2006 Honorarium Installations
2piR is two concentric rings; the inner ring detects movement; this movement is translated into fire exploding up from the playa surface on the outer ring. Presented without any visible theme, it is a blank slate for the user to perform upon: it lends itself to thoughts of sorcery, although it can also be seen as a tool for a performer, a conductor’s orchestra, or any number of other interpretations. The complex and beautiful patterns created with the fire are directly related to the participant’s own level of curiosity and preferred style of motion while controlling the flame effects from the inner ring.
A 1000 linear sequence of towers produces computer-sequenced patterns of flame visible anywhere in Black Rock City. The computer control allows any or all towers to be individually fired at a very high rate of speed and in any pattern. The resulting sequences can be simple lines of flame that stretch the entire length; explosions can chase from one end to the other at a great apparent speed; continual patterns can run back and forth across the line; patterns can occupy the entire space between the ends.
This project combines the imagery of the biblical Burning Bush with another ancient symbol of enduring life the Tree of Life, which has appeared in almost every major culture, in various forms, with one unifying thread: the tree stands as a symbol of the human condition. Humanity (represented by the trunk) unites the earth (represented by the roots) to the spirit world (represented by the branches reaching towards the heavens). The Tree of Life speaks of our need to honor spirit as we play here on earth, and through this we find balance. This installation is my response to the apocalyptic energy that has penetrated our entire culture; my belief is that the current paradigm must shift, quickly and dramatically, in order for the planet to survive. The Burning Tree communicates that this shift must occur on an individual basis. It expresses the role of each human as the unifying force between heaven and earth. Only through this magnitude of transformation can the future exist.
Four gigantic metal hands emerge from the playa and create a 30′ diameter space, in which participants dance and weave a web of white yarn, using the hands to connect the yarn. Participants can write their hopes and fears for the future on paper tags which will be tied into the ever denser web. The action of webbing will be initiated by the dancers each sundown, and participants will join in weaving the inner space. A minimal ambient hypnotic sound-design will accompany their thoughts as they weave their own paths through the space between the hands and inspire people to gradually start to dance in relation to the mesh. The more people weave, the denser the web will become. Thus each participant has to face the actions and paths of previous players. The white yarn will be illuminated with black light, bringing the web to a glow. The yarn represents our path through life, our patterns, memory, and neurological network, as well as the consequences and interconnectedness of our own and other peoples actions.
Since ancient times humans have gathered together in worship, seeking to touch spirit, to feel inspired, and to receive the divine. In their era, the great Gothic cathedrals were ultimate symbols of hope and fear in the future the hope of a New Jerusalem that awaited the faithful, and the fear of eternal punishment and Armageddon. In the history of our western culture, the cathedral remains as a timeless embodiment of place for spiritual gathering and primary religious experiences. Our vision of Cathedral, as well as for faith and worship in the future, retains the qualities of communion with the divine, but we envision it also as a place for any to worship as they please, side by side in harmony, mutual respect and tolerance, without dogmatic conflict or even need for dogma. Our Cathedral is the physical expression of this hope, and an opportunity for a living practice of these beliefs. The Cathedral aspires to inspire all BRC residents to participate and interact with it; to generate ritual, ceremony, and art; to dance, celebrate, and surrender; to experience joy, communion, and spirit; to play together in laughter, fun, and silliness.
Dachee, born of fire, is modeled after the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza in Egypt. It is constructed from burned timbers salvaged from a destructive fire twenty-five years ago. Dachee has now risen from the Playa, like the Phoenix from the flames. The future demands a more prudent consumption of resources than in the past and Dachee stands as a symbol of this need. By day a silent, dormant monolith, by night our hopes and fears are reflected in its outer walls. Dachee stands to assist the brain to reach altered states of consciousness and to provide an energizing calm; each side of the pyramid facilitates a different state of consciousness. By projecting tones at the proper locations related to the human ear we can help participants reach a higher state of being.
First created for Burning Man in 2000, the Dragon Smelter has been used to publicly recycle aluminum cans and to transform them into visual art pieces by creating “art in action”casting events using melted aluminum poured into sand molds. The Smelter itself is a kinetic sculpture made of 50% recycled materials most of which were provided by the San Francisco Sunset Scavenger Garbage Co. recycling program. It runs on propane gas which fuels a built in furnace and surrounds a crucible capable of holding and melting over 300 aluminum soda and beer cans. The Dragon’s Head and tail also breathe fire by propane torch.This year the smelter will be used to do 3 night casting events on the playa. Safety rules and training are provided by the art team leading this project.
A twisted barricade of metal in the shape of an enormous double helix spirals over the surface of the playa. Everything about its coarse steel exterior suggests violence, fear and division. Struggling past the dueling 8-foot steel beams you find yourself surrounded by a different world entirely. 360 degrees of reflection envelop you in an unbroken, 30-foot wide, red organic spiral, the DNA of our shared genetic bond. 120 wings of glowing red mirror reflect our world, not just to ourselves, but to one another, binding our community together. Surrounded and united by this structure of duality, opposite worlds co-exist and collide within one form and within us: hope and fear. This dichotomy is a matter of perspective, but it is also matter of choice: which world do we choose to live in? Which world do we choose to create? This is the human condition. This is our Duel Nature.
Three monoliths of ice on sculptural metal bases stand in a triangular arrangement. Each ice monolith contains two fire tubes into which flames are introduced at the base; as the tubes become red hot, the ice begins to melt and clouds of steam hiss and roil the night air. The inner workings of this fire piece can be observed and tactilely engaged; the combination of fire and ice is riveting in a way that is beyond mere novelty or aesthetics.
Facing Our Fears
Facing Our Fears is an interactive sculpture that invites participants to climb a wall of recognizable faces to reach the fun happening on top of and inside the sculpture.
A Field of Sunflower Robots
This cyber-punk vision of a beautiful landscape is a metaphor for how the collaboration of the community can lead to a clean and sustainable form of energy. The sunflowers robots reenergize by turning towards the light, as a natural behavior, and they emit colored light during the night.
Hope Flower and Fear Trap
The 100 tall mobile Flower, seen last year on the playa, is joined this year by its counterpart, the Fear Trap. The Flower represents Hope: new beginnings and beauty, the symbol of spring and new life a beginning with potential for greatness. The colors are bright and warm, with a positive aural and visual aura. The FearTrap represents the darker side the taking of life; the “end,” if you will. Venus
FlyTraps are mysterious to most people, representing the fear of the unknown. They are aggressive, luring and trapping insects, which they devour. The colors are darker and more sinister, the music more aggressive. Both plants are built over articulated man-lifts, and will roam the playa in concert, interacting with participants and performers.
Interstellar traveler? Interesting tripod? Intergalactic terrorist? Impressive toilet?
The inspiration for I.T. is drawn from my childhood memories of 1950s science fiction creatures, notably the War of the Worlds creature with its large red beacon ray vaporizing those in its path. This piece is an intimidating structure but quite benign and peaceful once engaged. Its intense red spotlight “eye” will sense people approaching, and direct is gaze towards them. Its most compelling element is the feeling of being suspended 30 feet above the ground without visible obstruction between you and the ground. Climbing the piece will be challenging as you slowly extend on the ladder like structure until you are literally crawling on a catwalk into its center chamber.
Love and Dragons
In this mobile installation of illuminated sculptures, a 14′ long leafy sea dragon leads a heart shaped chariot. Four giant dragonflies buzz just out of reach of the passengers riding atop the heart. A twenty-five’ long, two headed dragon soars above.
manIC is an audio/visual representation of the mental struggle between hope and fear; a spiral array of 13 LED lightposts ranging from 8-15′ tall, each equipped with two buttons and surrounded by 4 audio speaker posts. Simple sound and light behaviors are induced by pressing buttons on a single member of the array; increasingly complex reactions are provoked by increasing numbers of the array being activated in concert.
This project is a 12 foot tall, articulated, backpack mounted Land Puppet otherwise classified as mobile art or a walking interactive sculpture. The structure and appearance of Mantis is based on the Praying Mantis, a notorious insect predator which is commonly blown into BRC by late summer winds. This 2006 project follows on the heels of our highly successful Miniman Project of 2005. Mantis is worn by a single operator using motion transfer from the arms and legs to manipulate her in realistic, animated motions. The effect is most striking at night, with significant el-wire illumination.
Deep in the open playa, we find an ancient man standing alone, gnarled body bent by age, knotted hand upon a walking stick lest he collapse… Metaluselah: Our Oldest Friend.
The Mondo Spider plays on fears of technological intervention in the natural world and the potential for horrible consequence. Moreover, we tap into the primal arachnophobia that many experience to varying degrees. Known for being a stealthy, calculated, and deadly predator, the spider has become a recognized symbol of fear. While many people cower in the presence of even the smallest spiders, Mondo spider is a\large rideable mechanical beast to be feared. This Mechanical monster roams the playa, striking fear into the hearts of observers and unsuspecting prey.
Monicacos de Esperanza
The oddest and most improbable ensemble of surreal, unreal creatures walks towards nowhere in the emptiness of the playa. Seven creatures, from 5 to 14 feet tall convey with their presence the happiness of their spirit.
As the sun arcs across the desert sky the intensity, direction and ambiance of the sunlight continually changes, dramatically altering the face of Black Rock City. We intend to harness this phenomenon, using sunlight concentrated thru lenses to create varying burnt designs into a large rotating wooden disc with mandala characteristics. The speed of the disc’s rotation and the changing angle of sunlight produce daily additions to an evolving solar artwork, which includes painted calligraphies addressing the ideas of hopes and fears, collected from our community. At night, strobes, mirrors and other lighting entice citizens to spin the disc, randomly illuminating the contributed words invoking hope and fear.
Serpent Mother is a giant skeletal serpent sculpture that rises up and spirals down around her egg creating a transformative interactive environment. This installation enables participants to use the primal elements of fire, air, heat, light and motion as a way to transform their fears into hope, and to actively unfold creation.
SPECTRE is an kinetic interactive audio-video sculptural installation, 17.5′ high, 6′ in diameter, comprised of curved silver perforated metal arc panels of different heights within four concentric circular paths. This creates the impression of four segmented cylindrical objects sitting inside each other. Each set of opposing panels will turn in opposite directions via motors in the pedestal base. Stationed 40′ from the sculpture is a “broadcast tent” where we will capture and project the image and voice of participants onto the sculpture. Each 12′ tall projection appears as an abstract multi-planed image floating in space above the playa.
Everyone is invited to share thoughts, ideas, and messages; to sing, dance and perform.
In keeping with this years theme, I will be posing the question to each participant: “What are YOUR thoughts about the future?”
In this interactive ride, participants are strapped into a chair with a 5-point harness; A VW motor with a propeller is mounted opposite them. Centrifugal force pulls the spinning chair higher as they spin away from the center axle, and as they accelerate the participants gain more elevation. The effect is terrifying, exciting, and safe.
Starry Bamboo Mandala
The Starry Bamboo Mandala is a new interpretation of an ancient legacy of sacred spaces. Mandala, which means “container of essence” in Sanskrit, has long symbolized both a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective as well as spiritual centers of meditation. In contrast to the 2-dimensional mandalas of Hindu and Buddhist religions, however, this mandala has been translated into 3-dimensions. Seen from above, the eight columns are arranged in a circular pattern on the ground, symbolizing an 8-spoked “wheel of life” as it is known in Buddhism. Midway up the structure, the horizontally extending bamboo arms transform this wheel into an (8/3) star polygon… a geometric pattern found frequently in Islamic art. Further up, a shift in the arrangement of horizontal bamboo poles creates an (8/2) star polygon,
also known as the Star of Lakshmi. The structure terminates at an invisible point 55 feet up from ground level, at the vertex of a star point as seen from ground level. The structure΄s principal dimensions of 55′ high x 55′ wide essentially enclose it in a giant invisible cube… and the star polyhedra΄s center at the 27.5 foot midpoint define a giant sphere within that cube. Furthermore, a Fibonacci sequence of numbers, found in nature΄s countless geometric patterns, is also found within the structure. The building material, bamboo, is strong, light, and incredibly flexible; multifunctional and highly renewable to the point of being indispensable in cultures ranging from Latin America to Asia; and it exudes a curious mixture of humble abandon and dignified poise.
The Sunflower is a hand-made, 8′ diameter parabolic solar reflector in the form of a giant flower, with petals and leaves made of mirror finished stainless steel and a stem and roots made of machined and wrought steel. A metal stamen, at the focus of the reflector, will hold small objects to be burned with focused solar energy. A pivot at the top of the stem will allow participants to aim the flower directly at
the sun. Small objects placed in the stamen or held at the focus of the reflector, will be burned. Participants can burn a sacrificial object of their own, or select one from a supply of objects provided.
Temple of Hope
Groups of conical towers surround and obscure a courtyard, in the center of which rises a grand stupah. The courtyard is accessible through alleyways between the towers, creating a feeling density and furthering the illusion that you have taken an adventure into another land. The conical towers are built from a series of wooden hoops, lumber and small uniform pieces of white fabric, creating elegant,
vertical, catalytic curves. Each tower is a variation based on the theme of curves.
The Time Machine is a mobile 12 foot tall Art Deco-styled video kiosk. On the outside, videos of the past, present and future recordings made in the booth are displayed at random. Entering the time machine allows the participant to select the direction of time travel, and record their hopes and fears.
Venus Eye Trap
In an oasis of form and color, a blossoming cluster of plant life symbolizes hope and optimistic growth in the arid desert. With many thorns, searching tendrils and buds, this attractive fruit-bearing plant invites closer inspection and tactile interaction. Shade from its overhanging petals and seating at ground level entice people to sit under and enjoy the leafy canopy. However, this giant spiky being moves freely and wildly in the wind… perhaps this many colored beast is not so friendly after all…