pARTicipatory project – Burning Man style

Burning Man has so many interactive projects that I could easily base my entire blog off of them. There is no other place that compares to the annual week of the Burning Man event and all the crazy art that comes out to play. However, I wont be that “person that just talks about Burning Man all the time.” Ill try anyway. But I cant help myself, this project was too captivating not to share!

Peter Hudson is the man. He is well known through the Burning Man community for making large, participatory pieces. This past year at Burning Man, his “Charon” project was one of the most popular pieces on the playa. There wasnt a single night we didnt stop by, pull the ropes and get the wheel turning.

Peter is a master zoetrope designer. A zoetrope is device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures. Peter’s are especially fantastic because they require the engagement of people to get the full artistic benefit of the project. Charon is a huge 34 foot tall kinetic sculpture consisting of 20 animated skeletons. Built from steel, aluminum, and wood, and weighing in at over 7 tons – it took close to 100 people to design and build. Each side of the wheel has 6 ropes that hang on a pulley system and require groups of three to pull back and forth with a partner on the other end. As the pulling goes harder, the wheel spins faster, until a bell rings and a strobe light goes off. When this happens, that is when the magic is revealed. The strobe light flashes on a spot of skeletons that look like they are “rowing” a boat – turning their head side to side and using their arms to row along.

A video of the project and more information on Peter can be seen here.

Its a beautiful thing to see in person. Congratulations, Peter. You completely blew me away!


About megstevens

World of blogging - follow me through my social experiment of gathering friends once a month on architectural walks of the lovely Bay Area. See what they produce through sketches, photos, thoughts, and other images - based on the knowledge I present to them.
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