Electric Prayer Wheel: A Meditation on Genocide


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Electric Prayer Wheel: A Meditation on Genocide



  • Electric Prayer Wheel is a new collaborative installation and web site by Ari Salomon and Permi Gill themed around issues of genocide. Inspired by the tradition of Tibetan prayer wheels, the artists refer to the specific political situation of the Tibetan people as a means to open a dialogue regarding cultural genocide. Salomon was inspired by his work in India with Tibetnet, a online project to improve communications between the Tibetan Government-In Exile and Tibetan refugee communities around the world. Gill’s body of work has been utilising washing as a metaphor for issues of ethnic cleansing The installation will incorporate 3 parts:

    1) Entrance: a large (8 foot high) prayer wheel will be covered with washing symbols (found on clothing labels). Viewers must walk around the wheel as they enter. An electric eye chimes a bell for every revolution of the wheel.

    2) Interior: a series of smaller prayer wheels will present text describing a multitude of genocides from this millennium.

    3) Projection: a video projection of an electronic interpretation of a prayer wheel. The electronic prayer wheel will be a collage of video, still images and text rendered as if spinning on the surface of a cylinder. If resources allow, live video of viewers in gallery as well as web-based public interactions will be incorporated into the collage. The collage will be stimulated by a research project on the Tibetan struggle as well as two historical struggles related to the artists own ethnic backgrounds (Indian and Jewish). The Web site will incorporate small animations with images used in the installation. These animations, like the video projection, will be a contemporized version of a prayer wheel: loading the web page will set these wheels in motion. Viewers will be able to submit their own reflections on the theme of genocide in the form of images and text. Viewer input will be processed into spinning animations.