Surya Ratha

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2011. Dimensions: 9' x 9' x 13'.
PVC pipes, solar panels, LED tubes, electronic components, plants, and gravel.

In its early form, the sikhara was a type of building done to encapsulate a place and elevate its meaning. It was done on a personal scale and out of mundane and utilitarian of materials like bamboo. Once a place was determined to be of spiritual value, the land around it was divided by means of orthogonal lines (a mandala), and where these lines crossed, vertical supports were erected. These cross-points were believed to convey the energy of the building (indeed they took all the stress of the structure).

The four centermost marmas were considered the most sacred ones. Eventually they started to be made in larger scales, first out of wood, and later in stone. I built a sikhara out of PVC pipes and flexible solar paneling, two materials which speak to our present age in terms parallel to the way that the earlier materials did. PVC piping is accessible, modular, strong, ubiquitous, and reusable, and just like marmas (and bamboo), it is a vessel. It is portable, and it may be quickly readjusted and transformed depending on its context. This solar temple-of-sorts channels the energy of the sun not just in metaphor, but in reality. In a way, this is a reaffirmation of the idea of a building (the vector drawing) in preference of a building itself (an object of boundaries and walls). The same dynamic resides in the fact that the structure houses raw soil, and in the fact that its orthogonal supports will not to contain walls, but carry energy in the form of electricity and structural stresses.

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