SDCAP is excited to share with you the projects headed to Burning Man that have been awarded grants so far in 2018…and almost all of them are destined for YOUtopia as well! We will be adding to the list as more grants are awarded so be sure to scroll down to read about each one – maybe, just maybe, you’ll be inspired to help build one or more 😉
For centuries, the work of the mathematician and the visual artist are viewed not only as incompatible, but held in tension. Mathematics is attributed to Platonic notions focusing on abstract ideas and theoretical structures. The visual artist, on the other hand, is relegated to works of the hands, dealing with the concrete and the tangible. In trying to bring these worlds together, we should be wary of easy shortcuts to a complex issue, valuing both true artistic vision and rigorous mathematical sophistication.
And so we ask: how can vibrant, contemporary art be produced that deals with vibrant, contemporary mathematics? Unfolding Humanity, a massive, interactive sculpture, is one attempt in answering this question.
Unfolding Humanity alludes to Albrecht Dürer’s 500-year-old unsolved problem: can every convex polyhedron be cut along some of its edges so that it unfolds flat into one piece without overlap? Every attempt to do so has resulted in a positive answer, but mathematicians are still divided over whether this is always possible. Our exhibit offers an example of such a positive answer, by allowing participants to unfold a dodecahedron in a way that satisfies the unsolved problem.
At roughly 10′ cubed, this dodecahedron will be built of pentagonal acrylic faces on top of a metal interior framework. Hinges connect some of the faces to give the structure the ability to interactively unfold flat, using a series of engineered torsion springs, cables and winches.
Exterior faces are dark green acrylic etched with characters illuminated by trailing LEDs invoking the iconic Matrix animation, whereas interior faces of reflective acrylic mirrors create a kaleidoscopic image of people and lights. The frame and the pentagons themselves are illuminated by light from LED strips on the outside and inside. When unfolded (40’ x40′ x10′), the metal dodecahedron framework is still standing while the panels are arranged as petals of a flower along the ground below it.
To allow for interaction and teamwork, cables feed from each of the 5 furthest pentagons, through pulleys on the metal framework, to instantly locking brake winches which are specifically designed for lifting. This holds the structure in place in any configuration between fully open and fully closed.
LED lights will form an outward facing layer for each pentagonal face. The exterior faces will be dark when the dodecahedron is folded open, coming to life as each face is closed to the metal skeleton. When a face closes onto the frame, the falling character animation from the Matrix will come alive, indicating that a further step in the enclosure of a human participant has taken place.
When completely closed, the acrylic mirror faces on the interior of the structure will remain unlit, to allow the light from the frame to create intricate patterns in the many reflections.
Unfolding Humanity is the initial project of San Diego Geometry Lab, a growing collective of mathematicians, engineers, artists, and burners spearheaded by Diane Hoffoss and Satyan Devadoss and supported by Lee Hemingway, Gordon Hoople, Quinn Pratt, Sydney Platt, Elizabeth Sampson, Christiana Salvosa, J. Good, and D.D. Latimore. San Diego Geometry Lab has been created to bring the public to the edge of the mathematical unknown.
The idea for the sculpture began with University of San Diego mathematics professors Satyan Devadoss and Diane Hoffoss, who were interested in communicating to the world the nature of research mathematics in a beautiful and accessible way, and in finding ways for their students to connect abstract concepts to physical form through art. With a conceptual design in mind, the artists / mathematicians reached out to faculty and students across the University of San Diego and to community members at large to participate in the development and creation of this project. In all, the sculpture was conceived, designed, and built by at least 78 volunteers: 5 faculty members, at least 19 students and 2 former students, and at least 52 members of the larger community. An estimated total of 5500 person-hours was invested in this project by our volunteers.
Costs for the project were around $45,000, which was funded by grants from SDCAP, Fletcher Jones Foundation, University of San Diego Humanities Center, and crowdfunding donations. The work took place jointly at the University of San Diego and at CoLab. The sculpture was initially unveiled at Burning Man 2018, with a subsequent installation at San Diego Maker Faire 2018.
Ocean Tunnel is a 200-ft-long walking tunnel conceived by a group of ocean scientists and enthusiasts. In this structure, participants walk beneath a painted canvas and among hanging sculptures that create an underwater experience of the open ocean. The artwork reflects changing ocean conditions: a pure blue ocean filled with schools of big fish transitions to a green, gelatinous soup. Participants push through a thick curtain of suspended jellyfish at the end. Just outside is an atrium filled with lounge areas, information, and open canvas space on which participants are invited to draw and write their reactions and ideas.
The primary intentions of the piece are to:
2) inform and spark conversations about altering the predictable future, and
3) provide a platform for sharing reactions, thoughts, and ideas with a worldwide community.
Ocean Tunnel is intended not only to communicate that climate change and unsustainable fishing practices are dire problems for people everywhere, but also to generate a sense of hope in the face of a challenge. Every year Burning Man and its regional events inspire thousands of humans with a feeling that anything is possible through communal effort. Ocean Tunnel bis intended to generate that feeling around the issue of climate change, leaving participants who interact with the piece and with
one another feeling connected, engaged, and empowered to collectively cause a brighter future for our planet’s greatest resource. (**Architectural Drawings: Derek Lange.)
17 Build team members; 17 tear down hands (7 people served on both). 14 spur-of-the-moment Burner angels stopped by to lend a hand at some point.
Our lead team grew to 10. Each amazing lead spent between 50 and 200 hours coordinating and producing aspects of the piece.
10 muralists produced the artwork for the 8 sections, but that doesn’t include the 15-20 volunteers who contributed some work to the final “jellyfish” section.
And again I don’t have true count, but I estimate that 40-50 others came to help sew, grommet, prime canvas, test install, and generally get shit lined up for the big event. So many new faces and friends–thanks to Colab for being the hub where collaborative art brings people together.
Ocean Tunnel as it appeared at Burning Man 2018 was a 220-foot-long, 8-foot-high series of 8 tunnel sections, each with a mural of ocean life produced by a different (group of) artist(s). The murals depicted the progression of conditions in the open ocean over the last 200 years (and into the predictable future) due to climate change and overfishing. The two sections at the center of the series were covered by a larger (17′-tall) shade structure arch that also housed a lounge area. The lounge contained benches, platforms, and the key and prizes for a cypher puzzle whose clues were posted on each section of the tunnel.
Our intention with creating and bringing Ocean Tunnel to the Playa was to create a tangible experience of mankind’s impact on the Ocean, and to generate a sense of hope in the face of the huge obstacle that is climate change. What we got was all of that and SO MUCH MORE. Thousands of people biked through the Tunnel with wonder and curiosity every day, many people engaged with the cypher and discovered new facts about our oceans in the process, weddings (yeah, weddings!?) were held in the lounge area, and the conversations our team had with the participants at BRC were filled with a sense of gratitude, shared responsibility, and hope.
The Ocean Tunnel team is incredibly grateful to all those who gave their money, their time, and their encouraging thoughts and words. We needed all of it and couldn’t have done it without the HUGE community that came together behind this grand project. We can’t wait for next year’s project!
Zap ia an idea born out of the deep, dark, tree-covered hills of YOUtopia and a desire to artfully play with participants at a distance (and varying states of sobriety). Imagine frolicking along a dark path in the middle of the night’s adventures with anticipation for what might happen next. Out of the corner of your eye you see a flicker in the woods…or did you? You don’t think too much of it as you continue…but wait, there it is again!? As you strain to get a better look all you see are two red dots…”are those eyes or is my mind playing tricks on me???” you think to yourself when it happens again. YOUtopia inspires a lot of art based in camps, but rarely do we play with the surrounding terrain and we hope to change that by planting the seed. There is also a vision of creating a new piece every year that can be placed in misc. locations around the event with a focus on the critters that call Palomar Mountain home.
Zap is a Praying Mantis with a frame of lightweight metal designed to be in a typical upright stance with four walking legs on the ground, arched thorax/head and raptorial forelegs in “praying” position, her midlegs will be adjustable to raise or lower the body as desired. The abdomen will be made out of expanded perforated metal to allow for interior visibility with misc. repurposed metal objects randomly dispersed (keys, door knobs, hinges, chain) to create artistic detail. The forelegs will be articulated, allowing the tibial spines to be raised from the control panel. The wings are designed to expand or collapse depending on space limitations wherever installed. The metal will be treated with a chemical so that the color permanently oxidizes to green with hints of blue and brown.
We are incorporating two visual elements for nighttime display: lighting and fire (the LEDs will be situated in such a manner that both elements can be used simultaneously when desired).
- Lighting: LEDs will be run to accent the frame and programmed for numerous effects. When installed at a distance in the woods the lights will flicker almost like when a bug zapper is triggered. When installed in a more visible location the lights will be more colorful and playful while the abdomen will glow from the inside. The eyes will be a steady red.
- Fire Element: Depending on placement and safety there will be two fire elements. A low flame will glow from inside the abdomen and the tibial spines will be poofers when they are raised. The poofers will be activated by buttons on the control panel allowing for passersby to interact with Zap.
The goal is for Zap to make her debut at Burning Man 2018. Depending on completion date we are interested in displaying her at the Pride Village, Figment and Maker Faire while also making an annual appearance at YOUtopia. Zap’s home will be at CoLab to stand alongside the Man on the roof and be accessible for loan to the community for other events in the same way.The design team consists of Curt Benedetto, Stephanie Cucurullo, Dominic Leone & Samantha Richman. All are welcome to come participate, learn to weld and play! We will update the SD Burner FB page with learn/build days.
Burning Man 2018 has come and gone and Zap was a fiery part of the magic!. She brought inspiration, joy and delight to literally thousands of people and we are both humbled and proud, exhausted and re-invigorated by the whole adventure.
We are deeply grateful to SDCAP for supporting this project through its grant program. You were instrumental in making Zap a reality through the gifts of both your financial support and build space at CoLab. We literally couldn’t have done it without this support – thank you, thank you, thank you!
As a fairly small project Zap had 4 “core” build team members – 2 leads. Our leads each put in well over 500 hours (to date) coordinating, building and installing the project and the other core members each contributed about 200 hours (to date). In addition over 20 volunteers contributed almost 200 hours in ways large and small (e.g. lighting design and production, antennae creation and all manner of arting, on-playa-crew etc.).
We love building at CoLab and this was an excellent build season for collaboration and cooperation between the teams. The Ocean Tunnel, Unfolding Humanity and Zap teams were all active fairly consistently throughout the season and the cross-pollination and mutual support was simply awesome. This year we had a unique opportunity to co-host a mixer at CoLab with the Maker Faire team. It was a great event with over 50 attendees and proved to be great for outreach with a number of folks returning to volunteer on various projects.
Our intention in building Zap was not just to make a collaborative project for Burning Man. We wanted to work in a new medium (metal) and learn new skills (welding) and share it all with as many people as possible. We’re thrilled with the outcome and with our installs at Pride Village and Burning Man with Maker Faire and Youtopia to come. We’re grateful for the opportunity.
Do You Trust?
“Do You Trust?” is a huddle of 5 beings created by 3 volunteers, 100s of hours and a lot of community support and encouragement. It symbolizes community in flow and unity. It took a leap of trust for me to go forward with this project. I’ve never made a sculpture before, let alone made out of metal and in that scale. I didn’t know how to weld, I had no tools or workspace or community since I am somewhat new in town. I went forward with it and “Do You Trust?” became a crucible and an altar of faith for me. Then everything began appearing as if by magic. I was awarded 2 art grants, an exceptionally skilled and devoted crew appeared, tools, workspace and transportation. It all came. Someone even volunteered to make a website for it . “Do You Trust?” has given me a reason to believe that with passion and vision anything is possible. Maybe this whole project is not about the sculpture but about the process of someone with no means daring to go towards an ambitious venture with the help of community. The symbol remains and it is a huddle to remind us that anything is possible when we join our hands, minds and hearts. So dear friend, do you trust?
The 2018 V.2 Design has a 6-foot heart atop two segments of slightly curved 10 foot poles. The top heart is made up of 3 hearts to give a rich visual and allow for more LEDs that will guide weary residents home. This beacon, like the Pink Heart swing of years passed, will reach heights of approximately 26 feet with the base being a 8 foot triangle. V.2 Design also has an anchoring hub that connects the top 10 foot portion with the bottom 10 foot portion for those times when at events like YOUtopia the height should be shorter, allowing more grounding to camp. Safety is of course one of our biggest concerns so we’ll be arranging guy-wires to secure the base to playa (and other event locations)
Finally, interactively, loving and hugging, is one of the main components of the Pink Heart Hug Beacon. Plush objects at the base of the structure will be wired with pressure sensitive film and when hugged will cause the programmable LEDs on the legs to shine bright. The best part is in the hugging of all three plush objects at the base, simultaneously, which causes the light to travel up and change the color of the top heart making it appear that the energy is shooting up in to the beacon and pulsing the heart light slightly, just like a real heart beating.
The Hug Beacon is first and foremost a Lighthouse. Whether at Black Rock City, YOUtopia, or other events, it is a bright pink heart – high in the sky – that can lead lost revelers home.
Over 40 volunteers volunteered roughly 270 hours collaborating on the Beacon. It can be erected, by human hands alone, at it’s full height of 26 feet, or a lower version at 16 feet if logistics make the full height problematic.
The Beacon also inspires curiosity and participation. Attached to each leg is a mysterious torso-sized cushion at varying heights. When one cushion is hugged, the lighting changes. When multiple cushions are hugged, a more elaborate LED animation is triggered. Participants’ loving hearts can literally light up the night sky.