Celestial Mechanica is a 16-ft tall kinetic steel sculpture of our solar system representing the majestic dance of the heavenly bodies. It was created by a team led by Jessika Welz for Burning Man 2014.
I designed the main drive system for the orbits of the planets as well as doing a large portion of the structural engineering on the piece to ensure it will withstand 90 MPH winds.
Squared by Charles Gadeken is a 50’ tall obelisks made out of square steel tubing and 800 cast polyurethane cubes with inset full-color LEDs. Each cube is geometrically arranged in a fractal orientation, creating a 30’ canopy that provides shade by day and light by night beneath each obelisk.
My involvement with the project was in programming patterns, devising fabrication techniques, CNC work, and onsite construction.
Wave by Charles Gadeken:
Four 30-foot towers bob, bow, wave and move in fluid motion, slowly undulating like blades of grass underwater. The towers are illuminated from within by full color LEDs and by fire at the apex. The sculpture waves across five thirty-foot arcs creating a ripple of fire lighting up the desert sky..
I did the structural, mechanical, and hydraulic system design.
Tympani Lambada by the Flaming Lotus Girls is a sculptural embodiment of the structures by which we hear and balance, combining fire, vibration and sound to create an experience rich with visceral sensuality. The bone and membrane of the inner ear’s vestibular system is transformed into steel and fire. Tympani’s steel arches are transformed into the appearance of bone by a custom paint finish, giving the surface a unique tactile experience. This sculpture takes the seldom seen structures we depend on every day and shows them off at a stunning scale.
My roles in the project were designing and managing the building of the electronic fire control systems and mechanical sound effect system; designing the fire effect for the main arches which utilizes a unique venturi and baffle system to create a single blade of flame along the arches; and (for a 2014 reshowing) writing a new Python program to run the fire effects on this and other Flaming Lotus Girl Sculptures.
Photo credit: Joe Dacany of FLG
This is a group of very unique smaller sculptures by Charles Gadeken, where he did the conceptualization and lead fabrication and I did the design and building of all of mechanical and electronic systems involved.
Aperion is a 12 foot tall plant with three tesla coils coming out of flowers at the top. The tesla coils are solid state and each one is capable of reproducing any audio input by modulating the arc. We can connect microphones, theremins, keyboards, or even smartphones to the tesla coils, giving participants at festivals a variety of ways of interacting with the sculpture.
Spike has two counter rotating spinning shapes on fire inside of it to create a very dynamic look as the fire dances inside, filling the volume of the sculpture. The mechanical design was challenging due to having fairly limited space for the linkage, motor, rotary fuel unions, and bearings, but a unique and reliable solution was created using CNC cut plates and a flexible chain linkage moving over a curved guide.
Nous is a 9' tall graceful plant with 9 fire-shooting flowers. The flames can either be controlled by audience members or by a computerized controller. The controller allows an on-the-fly programming of rythyms, with a wide variety of variables to play around and create different patterns with. There is also a random mode, and there will soon be a MIDI interface to tie this and other sculptures in with performances.
Pneuma has a spinning cone of fire as well as a fire vortex element coming from the center. The fuel flow rates and motor speed can be controlled independently, creating a great variety of dynamic effects. There is also fire in the lower leaves. Although it was the first of Charles’ pieces that I worked on, it was the most challenging of all from a design standpoint. The rotating cone has fuel lines going to both the inside and outside of it, and the tight diameter of the stem made it impossible to fit the motor, drive chains, and a standard rotary union together. After a good deal of thought and CAD modeling, I arrived at a the solution involving a custom made rotary union integrated with the support shaft.
This project was designed as a vehicle for the Swarm project at Burningman, 2007. It is a 4 person bicycle powered vehicle that can carry the six 80 pound Swarm robots, or be converted to a smaller street configuration for general city riding. The 4 riders face each other around a central steering wheel, creating a social riding and driving experience.
The combination of requirements for weight capacity, rider comfort, space and shipping, and street rideability made for an interesting design process, but it has filled all of it's roles well without much compromise on any design aspects. One of the more interesting challenges was the braking system, which had to have sufficient power to stop the loaded vehicle or be safe on the hills of San Francisco, yet have no drag when not applied. The no drag part ruled out the early plan of using a hydraulic motorcycle caliper, and I instead made a custom mechanism that uses it's own braking force to clamp the brake pads harder.
My role was designer and lead builder.