The Plastic Pilgrimage

I have been working on forming the architectural brief that the shrines should sit within by first looking at various precedents that highlight the pilgrims movement and ritual flow in the spaces:


This is really rigid but the diagram is helpful in highlighting spatial movement and also the important objects within the rituals. I started comparing this with a modern day shinto shrine and did a diagram that highlights the progression within the shrine complex:

shinto shrine

I’ve discovered that each place of worship moves people around the space in stages (much like what I am trying to do with my five shrines) and it starts off with cleansing oneself or ‘death to oneself’, as what I’ve read, before coming into contact with a divine being. This is done either by physically washing one’s hands and feet, or drinking holy water or walking through a gate that allow a person to move from the real world into the spiritual realm. The second stage requires the person to move into a smaller shrine to reflect on past deeds and/or atone for sins by calculating what sort of offering is needed by. The third stage is to send a wish/prayer to the gods by inscribing it on a ¬†plaque (presently, they would just write a wish on a wooden slate and hang it up in a designated shrine booth). The fourth stage is to commune with other pilgrims in the oratory to meditate and the fifth stage is to finally worship the enshrined divine being (the finale of approaching the Holy of Holies).

What I think is interesting is the physicality described in each stage (the objects, materiality and spatial conditions) and how they move from a gate to a large sanctuary that houses groups of people. The journey of approaching the divine requires so much more preparation in that sense, and as Kevin Rhowbotham explains in Staged Architecture:

‘An architecture of event which concentrates on the production of situations rather than the mute lithic mass…a latent urbanism in which the city could be reconfigured by an act of mind…the squat, the street demonstration, the rave, are its legacy.’ (Holding, 2000, pg. 8)


I am currently drawing out each stage in relation to the five pillars I’ve identified in the eternal parade and trying to relate them programmatically as well. I really like the idea of designing this pilgrimage to consumerism with a ‘pop-consumer fin-de-millennium position’ (Holding, 2000, pg.8). And similarly to how Mark Fisher talks about the audiences at rock concerts that are ‘presented with quasi-rituals, oven-ready lifestyles; like shopping malls, the stadia becomes a post-modern site of happy consumption’ (Holding, 2000, pg.9). I think the eternal parade could work that way as well, creating instantaneous mockery sites of happy consumption for its pilgrims by having ridiculous forms of rituals carried out in each as well.

I am currently working on defining each shrine more and hopefully I could lay out the design drafts for the upcoming tutorial.


BTW, here is the updated video. I’ve added in the sounds and edited some bits; still working on the abrupt ending, not quite sure how to sum it up nicely yet.

One thought on “The Plastic Pilgrimage

  1. I really like the shrine analysis since in both there is a sense of changing scales of spaces that you progress through in order to finally complete the pilgrimage. Following our discussion before the break, this is what we mentioned in terms of finding the right scale for each of your shrines and how these could be determined. This seems like a good way forward to figure that out in terms of the sequence in which you would experience them – what would the equivalent drawing be of your pilgrimage through your series of shrines? Would be great to see that along with the more detailed drawings of the individual shrines at the next tutorial.
    The quote by Holding is terrific where it starts to discuss the everyday city being a site for a pilgrimage or some sort of religious spectacle – it fits perfectly with your project and I would try to think how you can incorporate these quotes into the portfolio pages so they start to build up the ideological context of the project.
    The video is coming along – the opening sequence of quotes is great although its sometimes hard to read them and listen to the audio but I think that’s fine. I like how it ends with the pyschedelic flashing headline about how “This is Macy’s Idea of a Millenium Wonderland” – the second part still needs work – I think the flashing words about death, ressurrection and eternity come too early for us to understand them. The Barney video needs to be sped up a bit and there is an advertisement or something in the beginning of the audio that could be cut to save some time. The other two videos might be distracting – so perhaps they could be more focused on the themes of resurrection and eternity? I think the flashing words at the end are very effective once we see Barney is dead etc. Plus it gives the clip a strategy to have the flashing text at the end of each sequence to drive the message home.
    Finally, for some inspiration, I really liked these illustrations by Jamie Mills and I like how in one drawing he collects objects/ scenarios/ vignettes of different scales into his vitrines – from a suburb to a tree to a shark to snails, it reminded me of your project and how you discuss Manhattan as a vitrine for the parade – it could be great to conceive of your shrines as these collected moments of the parade narrative which you need in order to understand the collective whole. Looking forward to seeing your shrines next week!

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