2008 Honorarium Installations
A symbol of the United States Capitol becomes a mirage of mythical creatures fabricated of elaborately carved white steel. Each cut is rendered in the archetypical graphic style of Pacific Northwest Coast Indian imagery.
Stepping into a cage of white lace, the interior space vaults overhead, as a ladder of carved white swings descends from above. Eagle and feather imagery cover the walls. Together these elements suggest the set of an elaborate birdcage, placed ironically and symbolically within the framework of a colonialist political power symbol. Yet, as one ascends the swings, every platform reveals the wisdom of a different Indian Nation carved into the seats. This tangible union of opposites offers itself as a gathering space to ruminate on the origin of American “civilization” amidst the enduring dignity and vision of it’s Native Peoples. A government building is transformed into an Altered State.
The Amazing Jellyfish From The Year 12,000
A visitor from a very different future, the Amazing Jellyfish has travelled back in time to our present day. In his future world, humans have disappeared and jellyfish have taken over as the dominant life form on the planet. Evolving at a fantastic pace, the jellyfish of the future are over 15 feet across, unimaginably intelligent, and have incorporated robotics and computers into their biology. Our visitor has an 8-foot dome covered in thousands of animated LEDs, floating ten feet above ground at its base. The dome is accessible to visitors, allowing them to view the animations from the inside out, and the brain is interactive, with audio and touchscreen inputs that allow participants to create or modify animations on the dome. The Jellyfish is fascinated by humans and misses them. He has come to commune with us for this exceptional week, and to share a perspective that just might afford a chance for a year 12,000 in which jellyfish and humans share our world in harmony: human be nice to other human. human protect nice planet. human go on get funky.
Basura Sagrada is a temple constructed mainly from burnable trash, recycled materials, and the tossed-off detritus of American society. Meticulously detailed, the temple is a precious space created from non-precious materials, a receptacle for the hopes, dreams, memories, and elegies of the citizens of Black Rock City. The temple is comprised of five main structures, with a group of outlying buildings growing towards a central nave clad in a series of spires that reach towards the sky. This temple is intended as a refuge for intrepid souls, a place where spontaneous, unmediated conversation occurs between the individual and the divine.
The Hummer or Humvee has become an interesting phenomenon in American culture. Originally the Hummer was manufactured as a military vehicle and in 1992 was introduced into the civilian market. Currently the civilian version (not much different to the military one) is largely used by families to drive around suburbia and cities, but rarely sees off road utilization. You might wonder why any family needs to drive around town in a 4.25 ton military style machine, which has been heralded as “the worlds most serious 4×4”. Much of this has to do with a type of “King of the Road” mentality which is a consequence of the “all mighty, all powerful” American dream. Bummer is a super size Humvee measuring 38 feet long x 18 feet wide x 16 feet high. Half of the Hummer will be painted in military khaki and the other half a bright sporty color. This sculpture epitomizes this country’s obsession with power and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the American dream.
It is a catalyst for stimulating discourse on some of the fundamental ideals underpinning that dream. This project is not intended to condone or condemn American values but instead provoke thought on some of the most problematic issues of our time.
In the Cave, our tales of the heroes, heroines and objects of American folklore take on a reality of their own. The Caves exterior is a place of sunlight and veracity: a Greek Revival gazebo crowned with a frieze and plaques telling the history and etymology of folk heroes. The interior is a place of nighttime and imagination: storytelling around a fire, performance and play with shadow puppets of legends. At night, the histories told on the exterior give way and truth becomes little more than shadows cast against the walls of the cave, where participants remake their own stories and legends.
Four flaming steel tree-ablas, 3 flaming tree swings, four moats with flaming books, a 10 foot steel goddess and a control center surround a 16 foot steel book with flaming pages. The ultimate American dream is that humans live in balance with nature… that earth, wind, water and fire are respected, and that we respect mother earth and the gifts given to us. Celtic Forest provides an environment which represents each element while evoking the feelings of all senses within.
Chasing the American Dream
Mass-produced stuff from chain stores – why do we need it? People continue to buy mass-produced objects that clutter up their lives, encouraged to spend, spend, spend. We are bombarded daily by advertising, marketing and mailings, that reinforce this sheep-mentality of acquisition: Make sure you keep up with your friends and neighbors! A larger-than-life purse made of wood and chickenwire is paper machιd with catalogs from the likes of Pottery Barn, Walmart, etc.
A border control checkpoint, where one can enter the world of his/her own dreams, demonstrates that crossing real borders between countries can be a difficult task, and that crossing the boundaries inside ones own heart and life might mean a big leap into the unknown. Although its a symbolic border crossing, the look and feel of it is very real. Once visitors pass the guard, they enter a small interrogation house, where the customs officer awaits them in an archetypal grey environment. After completion of all formal procedures. a passport for the Land of Dreams is stamped with the necessary visa, the boom barrier opens and one may cross the borderline and enter ones dreams…
The Fleeble Flobbler, childhood dreamer, is a literal icon of the childlike state of the American ideal. A toy, a ride, a clown, a fun time kind of place laced with fruitful bliss and the essence of an innocence backed by a governing monster. Ride the ride, take the plunge; the illusion is a dream and in this dream is the interactive fun time. The Fleeble Flobbler rocks around on a teetering eight seated base! It is fueled with the fire energy of the earth and powered by the physical energy of the human being. The Fleeble Flobbler is created with the intention to rejoice in the simpleton style of the social, economic, and political state we embody on this globe.
Free Flight is a sculpture that celebrates the ultimate freedom, the escape from the bounds of earth. Consisting of six wind-driven kinetic birds, this sculpture is in constant flux as the winds of the Black Rock grow, recede, shift and change. Stylistically an amalgamation of man-made and natural elements, this sculpture hints at our responsibility to coexist with nature.
Hand of Man
The Hand of Man is a large hydraulically-actuated human hand and forearm, capable of movement in all the same axes as a human hand and forearm, and fabricated from steel and stainless steel. This enormous Hand is controllable by way of an ergonomically accurate “glove”. Anyone who wishes to operate this gigantic and powerful Hand need only insert their hand into the glove controller, and any motion they produce from the elbow forward will be accurately and quickly reproduced by the large machine Hand. Participants experience the tremendous thrill of power and control as they lift, twirl and crush objects of their choice, such as cars and pianos.
Utilizing a reciprocal structural concept and a simple pallet of 12 foot long 4 x 4’s, Harmonic Geometry is both an object on the playa and an environment for calm reflection, inviting participants to experience and interact with the chimes suspended within its geometric framework.
Illusion is a light sculpture on a canvas of 64 large weather balloons. The light array creates a feeling of immense undiscovered space as viewers walk through an area the size of two football fields. Light effects are programmed to evoke a range of moods with soft, fading luminescence interspersed by glimmering, dancing lights. At timed intervals, lighting control stations become active and participants are given the opportunity to control the light array. The relationship between light and darkness is a common Western metaphor of good and evil, knowledge and ignorance. The sculpture alludes to the illusion offered by this metaphor.
Lepidodgera is an expansive kinetic art piece that interacts with participants through sound, light, kinematic motion, tactile sensation and heat. A 37-foot-tall butterfly attracts participants with sounds and colorful patterns washed across its 1200 square feet of wing. It then engages them in a process of discovery as they realize that the food to make it live and the inspiration to make it beautiful must come from them.
Man Gwyn Man Draw?
Man Gwyn Man Draw? is a Welsh proverb which loosely translates as “The other mans grass is always greener.” The work examines the concept of the American Dream and the Welsh psyche in the 19th century, when thousands of people fled from Wales in the hope of creating the perfect utopia across the Atlantic.
The work consists of two elements, the first being a symbol of something that has the ability to grow even in the harshest conditions wheat. The individual stems sway in the wind but still hold their ground. The second element is a flock of life-sized sheep that represent the thousands of people who left their homelands, sometimes like lambs to the slaughter, looking for a new life.
Man Gwyn explores the relationship between idealism and reality, and the concept of creating a self-sustaining community. These were the ideals of the Welsh migrants who fled their native country three hundred years ago. This installation offers an ironic parallel to the concept behind Burning Man itself.
Mutopia has germinated and is evolving, creating an intentional place of growth, mystery and possibility. Starting as one strange Seedpod, Mutopia sent out a runner root touching down with its node, and a new Seedpod was formed. Each successive plant repeats this process, evolving as it matures and remaining connected to the whole by a long umbilical-like root structure. Its evolution is not just mere mutation and adaptation; it is willfully incorporating features and forms of the plants, animals, and machines it interacts with in its surroundings. Through this absorption Mutopia elaborates its form, incorporating these elements into its future stages of growth. In a very direct way, participant interaction is influencing the growth of this life form and helping something new emerge. Thirteen generative Seedpods illustrate this new evolutionary concept of intentional and interactive evolution. Metals are reshaped into a sinuous evolving form growing in a giant spiraling formation. Mutopia entices one to enter its space, interact and contribute to its informed patterns of growth.
Net Work is an interactive metal and fluorescent light sculpture, a continually changing three dimensional network of light and shadow that changes form and appearance when observed at different angles, distances, and times. Visitors control Net Works state with hands-on participation as they attempt to solve a puzzle hidden within the states of the sculpture. Physically interpreting the participatory nature of our nation, the shifting balance between the power of the individual and the control of the system and its hidden rules and influences makes itself apparent on many scales. Each contribution can push things backward as easily as move them forward, as the net work of many individuals builds toward change, and hopefully, success and reward.
The Pool is an environment of giant concentric circles created from interactive circular pads. By entering the pool, one enters a world where play and movement create a cascading effect of swirling light and color. The pool is a playful, energetic, interactive and totally immersive environment. While in the pool, one can use ones movement to create ones own swirling light path, or create light paths that join with other light paths (and allow additive color). One can also use movement to collide with other paths (removing color and light entirely.)
By adding and subtracting light, individuals and groups of people can interact with The Pool in profound ways. The interaction varies dramatically depending on the number of individuals involved. This dynamic interaction between individuals and The Pool creates environments ranging from curious and playful with few participants to energetic and competitive with many participants.
Popaver Rubrum Giganticum
Popaver rubrum giganteum (giant red poppy) consists of three hundred 10 tall poppies in various shades of red. The design allows for variation in the layout and placement of the individual elements. By using common materials and traditional techniques, I seek to explore questions of how we perceive, infer and assign meanings to objects. How do those meanings and inferences change as the object, its physical location, size, environment, function, or importance within a society changes?
Pswarm is a mobile fire art installation featuring six hand-built peddle-powered sculptural fire machines. These machines include 15′ long, 9′ tall 2-rider behemoths weighing over 1,000 lbs each and geared to walking speed. Each features a propane fire effect capable of 40 ft plumes of fire. Together as a pack, these human-powered machines produce random, spontaneous fire effects.
The Shiva Vista Project is circular fire installation with an elevated performance platform in the center. Sixteen large propane effects fire in rhythmic sequences while fire performers, dancers and musicians play along with them. Twelve of the effects are arranged in a 100 foot circle and four more are located at the corners of the platform, controlled from an elevated platform just outside of the circle. It is a place where humans and machines enter into a fusion of fire, movement and sound.
Shrine of Fortuna
The Shrine of Fortuna is a mixed-media painting and altar installation created by the Northern California art collective, Art Farm. It features an eight foot by twelve foot portrait of a beautiful woman, representing Fortuna, the goddess of fortune and fate.
The painting stands atop a three foot high platform and is in the shape of an alter piece, with a peaked roof. In front of the painting, coming up from the floor of the platform, is a spinning “wheel of fortune”. On the wooden side-walls of the shrine, hand-written fortunes or wishes to the goddess hang in rows on colored tags. The platform steps and the shrine facade (as well as the backside) are painted and inscribed with symbols and prose relating to luck. And once again, in their signature manner, the Art Farm artists and dozens of others have covered the surface of the painting with pencil and pen & ink drawings, all representing some aspect of fate and fortune, both good and bad, creating a tattooed effect over the entire portrait.
Shrine to the Oven Mitt
The Oven Mitt is an American icon; if ever there was an item in need of a shrine, this is the item. The center piece of the shrine is a 10 foot tall Oven Mitt Wind Chime composed of squares of stainless steel. There are also additional oven mitts as banners, fluttering in the wind. Empty spaces are provided where worshipers may leave oven mitts of their own. This is a place where people can appreciate the true beauty and value of the Oven Mitt.
Spaghetti West Ten
UK scrap-metal sculpture collective Mutoid Waste Co. brings a trio of bone-crunching mobile sculptures to the playa, led by Spaghetti West 10. This animatronic fire-breathing metal horse pulls a covered wagon – one-third Little House On The Prairie and two-thirds Horseman Of The Apocalypse. The horse is flanked by a pair of dinosaur-like machine-beasties: the Dino-Dumper and the Clamp-O-Saurus. The covered wagon features a stage for music and performance.
Spread Eagle features two wings symbolizing the possibility of transformation and the potential for higher yearnings. The work measures over 30′ wide and is kinetic, able to turn in the wind or by hand. Primarily built of steel, redwood and found objects will also be incorporated into the weave. Wings are a vehicle to rise above, gain perspective, and release the earthbound. The American Eagle can represent the dream of regaining core values such as individual liberty and the unrestricted pursuit of happiness.
SWARM 2.1 is a large scale kinetic art piece. It consists of a number of robotic spheres directed by a mothership, actuated by motors, and guided by GPS to create moving formations evocative of the animal world and the world of dance. The spheres are simple, but together they behave in ways more complex than one could predict – a lot like life.
To actualize this large-scale zoetrope, participants must engage a laboriously intense mechanism that puts a modern spin on the myth of Tantalus while reflecting on the seemingly dwindling fruits of such labor.
Wheel of Thwarted Ambition
This kinetic fire sculpture represents change, rebirth and creation. Driven by a hand crank, a vertical wheel hung with buckets of burning wood is spun, creating a ring of fire and producing lots of fireflies.
You are All so Many of Me
A multitude of small cut mirrors provides the opportunity for both literal and metaphorical reflection. While exploring one’s likeness during the day, the viewer might perceive a kaleidoscope of rearranged faces, elbows, eyes, ears, and shoulders; a cubist self-portrait smiles back, with perhaps someone elses body parts mixed in. At night, reflections of the various electric and flammable effects of our city will be enhanced with a variety of LCD images projected upon the mirrors. The viewer might, for example, find him/herself reflected back from within a burning fire. Likewise the many mirrors will reflect the projected imagery onto the viewer, creating a feedback loop of reflected light. From this place the participant is invited to interact with a variety of images designed to explore the American Dream of FREEDOM FOR ALL within a multicultural/multi-gender melting pot of humanity.
ZsuZsu: The Crybaby Drama Queen
ZsuZsu’s former lover dragged her to Burning Man. In an attempt to make her happy, he built her a custom heart-shaped trailer, complete with tanks of French air. She refuses to come out but demands your attention and gifts. ZsuZsu blames you for her discomfort and inconvenience. She also hates heat, dust, loud music, art and “Heepies”. ZsuZsu’s Spiteful Tower is a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, erected in front of her trailer and festooned with red lights a bar graph “mood meter” to indicate her current state of angst. Participants are invited to push buttons that communicate different messages to ZsuZsu through her intercom in an attempt to influence her feelings. When ZsuZsu’s mood reaches its peak, the door opens and her robotic body leans out for a surprise tres magnifique!