Patrick Lichty

Artist
Educator
Writer
Activist

The American Suburb is a place that has its own set of rituals, from the mall to the soccer field to the ubiquitous suburban lawn. When I acquired my first house, I was charged with the task of mowing and trimming the lawn. Within a few weeks, one thing had made itself obvious to me, that the motion of walking with the mower with the steady drone of the engine was strikingly similar to the Zen practice of stone gardening, as in the famous gardens of Ryoani-ji in Kyoto. In addition, the droning of the engine seemed strikingly similar to a recording of chants performed by Tibetan Buddhist monks that I frequently listen to. The convergence of these experiences impressed on me that the practice of lawn mowing appears to be a form of materialist meditation, or even devotion to possessions, which strikes an ironic opposition to the Zen practice. The juxtaposition of such activities with ancient spiritual practices critiques the importance ascribed to banal practices such as yard maintenance in turn of the millennium American materialist culture. In so doing, the artist suggests that lawn maintenance, as well as the placement of certain artifacts, like reflecting balls, plaster rabbits, etc., and reveals the absurdity of the lawn and suburban materialism at the end of the millennium.

 

The installation consists of a "suburban" Zen garden, including Astroturf, raked stones, but also reflecting balls and a lawnmower which the video was shot from. Once the viewer walks up to the mower, the video turns on and reacts to the participant's position at the mower.

It is also a 15-minute analog glitch video.