Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Lauren Robie


Have you ever reached a destination, unable to recall how you got there? When the brain switches to autopilot, one experiences mindlessness, a mind-state often paired with routine. It is important to consider a mindless urban population, which involves an underlying tension between autonomy and subservience to the industrial environment. The urban landscape, specifically underground public transit, discourages the embodied experience associated with mindfulness. Using Philadelphia’s Market-Frankford Line as a case study, one finds that public transit can overload the perceptual systems of its riders, compelling them to shut down and tune out. 

However, there is potential to change the individual perceptions of public transit riders. To change one’s perception, one must experience a “conscious rupture,” or a novel experience that asks the person to wake up and take notice, and maintain that awareness. In order to inspire change, I have devised and implemented Mind the Motion, an ongoing site-specific art intervention. The method is simple: ride public transit, draw the environment, and give the drawing to a stranger.

This intervention has two components: the first is a “conscious rupture” and the second asks for long-term mindfulness and meditation. Using drawing, the transit rider actively perceives his or her surroundings, solidifying his or her observations on paper. By gifting the drawing to another individual, it becomes a souvenir of a shared perceptual experience. It is the trace of a special event, more potent because the interaction provides a narrative and therefore an anchor in memory. Because it is memory physically realized, it solicits future meditation. To facilitate the drawing as art intervention as souvenir, I produced over one hundred 6.5” x 9” envelopes with the project title, a concise description, instructions, and contact information.In order for this project to have the widest reach, I created a website, which acts as documentation of Mind the Motion experiences in writing, photographs, audio, and drawings.

Mind the Motion is a project that seeks to enrich the way we see and, in turn, enrich the way we interact with the world.

SECTOR C: Art Practice & Technology

ADVISERS: Brent Wahl (FNAR) | Carin Berkowitz (HSSC)