Project Description
Structural Details:
The Drive Wheels
Three freestanding drive wheels encircle the core of the Machine. Each drive wheel and supporting structure is located atop a 24-ft. circular platform. The outer edge of the platform is 2 ft. high and has two steps to raise participants to the level of the assembly. Resembling those of temples built long ago, the dimensions of the steps effectively activate something within us, recollection of a simple time when we were more in touch with our surroundings and ourselves. This initial contact with the sculpture will initiate a subtle shift in awareness and prepare participants for the journey ahead.
Suspended 40 inches above the platform, with eight steel spokes radiating out from the wooden center, is the drive wheel. Its design recalls structures built hundreds of years before the industrial revolution. This deliberate choice in construction style again engages the mind of the viewer, a reminder that we are in a different place, a different time.
The simplicity of the wheel, regardless of time and place, invites engagement in the most basic of labors. A steel round tube pierces the center of the surrounding structure that suspends each drive wheel. Six legs radiate downward to meet the platform, their interior faces prescribing a hemisphere in space. Two sets of ceiling gussets provide shade for those at work.
The economy of this assembly unfolds as you explore it with you eyes and hands. The unembellished volume and form is representative of our limited lives, providing just enough material to accomplish our task. Concave silhouettes seemingly bend inward with the weight of our responsibilities and our worry.
Upon taking your place at the wheel and grasping the spokes you fulfill the destiny of the Machine. You push and the wheel rotates, breathing life into a monstrosity that cannot live without you. Above the top of the enclosure (mounted to the drive shaft) a pulley begins to turn, consequently driving a horizontal belt connected to gears in the main structure.
The Central Core
The transmission, located in the tower of the central core, harnesses and distributes this energy and applies it to three primary areas of the sculpture: the base of the core, the upper platform, and the eight limbs.
Power transmitted to a gear assembly below the floor of the central structure engages and rotates the base panel at one rotation per hour with continuous input (2 miles/hour) from the drive wheels. In addition to this movement, partially exposed gears will draw participants towards the core of this towering 50 ft. (at full height) kinetic sculpture.
The base platform and its beckoning stairs, nine massive legs and structural gussets, partially exposed drive gears, and the upper platform with its eight articulated limbs will be readily apparent at a distance. The circular stepped platform is 32 ft. in diameter and has three steps leading up and then down to a 20-ft. turntable in the center. At the location of the highest step, nine stationary legs rise overhead and define a hemispherical form that surrounds the rotating platform and supports the Machine's gear system and upper platform. The legs terminate three feet short of the center of the ceiling, effectively creating a 6-ft. diameter hole in the middle of the “roof”. Structural gussets connect the legs on two different planes and form a nearly transparent ceiling assembly that allows views of the gears located above. The convex legs and gussets covey a sense of fullness and expansion.
Located underneath the floor is a sun, planetary and ring gear that spins on a set of dedicated bearing assemblies and supports the entire rotating platform. This movement is actuated by the main drive shaft located in the center of the room. Running from the floor through the hole in the ceiling the tower distributes power directly from the transmission above. The shaft rotates in the opposite direction of the floor; this dichotomy resembles conflict and thus alerts our senses, both consciously and subconsciously.
Affixed to the 20-ft. diameter shaft are two ladders that allow participants to access the upper level of the sculpture. The climb will take you through the center of the transmission assembly past the gears in action. Safety screening will be in place to minimize the possibility of injury. Participants will step off the ladder onto the upper platform. This upper level of the sculpture is 24 ft. above the playa surface providing excellent views of the surrounding city.
Through the use of bearing pylons, circular tracks, and a large drum gear buried underneath, this 20-ft. diameter platform will spin in the same direction and at the same rate as the main drive shaft. This fixed connection should minimize the difficulty of the transition from ladder to floor as both structures are moving in tandem. The outer two-ft. vertical face of this raised area will be crenellated, alluding to the fortress that is our mind; walls providing security but keeping us separate from each other.
Encircling the perimeter of this form are eight pylon assemblies - the shoulders of the articulated limbs. These pylon structures are stiffened with horizontal gussets at a height of 42 inches creating an effective guard rail and safety barrier system. Steel hinges at the joints of the limbs will minimize the possibility of structural malfunctions due to high wind loads or mechanical failure.
Articulated Limbs
At the beginning of the week, the articulated limbs will be in a lowered position creating an umbrella-like frame suspended above the drive wheel structures with a diameter of 70 ft. The tips of these skeletal tendrils will hang 14 ft. above the ground.
Over the course of the event the eight limbs will slowly raise until they reach their zenith, 30 ft. above the upper platform. When the maximum force is applied to the drive wheels, the will raise 3 degrees per hour. At 6 hours per day, spaced out over 5 days, they will climb a total of 90 degrees. In addition, the central core, the upper platform will have several 360 degree rotations in a day - also in relation to the energy generated by the people working with the sculpture.
The limbs will be raised via a drum, pulley and cable system that is not accessible to the public. The drum will be located inside the base of the viewing platform. Cables will lead from the limbs, between the pylons, into the floor to the drum. Interior and exterior protrusions will create dynamic forms that, when in the raised position, create a temple-like assembly above the heads of the people on the upper platform.
Each limb is approximately 4 inches thick, up to 8 ft. wide, and 24 ft. long with a pivot located near the middle of the assembly. These upper arm and forearm sections will consist of dimensional lumber and plywood skins creating high-strength and low-weight torsion box components. Many of the other legs and gussets in the sculpture will be similar constructions allowing for a non-conventional vernacular well suited to the Burning man environment.
Fire Baskets
Fire baskets will project out in three directions from the lower stationary structure of the central core at a height of 16 ft. Three-cable assemblies will suspend each basket at the end of 26 ft. steel pipes. The 3 ft. diameter steel vessels will hang above the playa inscribed onto the same circle as the drive wheels. Wood will burn each night and the baskets will sway as the pipe flexes with the wind.
Primary Structural Elements
The Machine will be primarily constructed of wood and steel. Leg and gusset plate assemblies of the drive wheels, central core and limbs will be mostly dimensional framing lumber and plywood skins. These efficient torsion boxes are at once light-weight and strong. Metal rod or pipe will be used for pivoting locations and rolling assemblies where wood will not suffice. Most gears in the machine will be constructed of steel to accommodate the high torque loads generated by the reduction gearing of the transmission. The drive shaft of both the wheels and core will be steel tubing or pipe and the drive wheels will be engineered with wood and steel for contrast.
Steel gusset plates will be located at areas of high load that require additional reinforcement, such as the pivot points at the limbs on the upper platform. Cable will connect the limbs to steel drum assemblies and industrial rubber belts will connect the drive wheels to the transmission.
Ambient factors including digital technologies, sound, lighting, performance, and olfactory elements will further enhance the Machine's presence.
The Machine's physical structure will be inhabited by a multitude of technologies representing and enhancing its transformation. Interactive, discretized 10-channel audio and visual technologies will inject ideas into the participants' subconscious to guide the formation of the structure. Participants will interact with visual and auditory elements linked to the edifice as if brainstorming an idea.
Audio soundscapes will embody three elements: The Conscious (skeletal and physical), Subconscious (Duality), and the Unconscious (Enlightenment, Archetype, God-Head). The latter will represent a concept of art that appeals to many sides of the human spirit and beyond.
Conscious breakdowns- the lungs (Lows), the heart-beat (Mids), and the nervous system (Highs). The conscious elements will be focused towards the drive wheels, and the immediate human interaction.
Subconscious breakdowns- applied organic, and synthetic sounds will be perpetual - reflecting the within and without. These sounds will be focused to the central social space and outside the Machine.
Unconscious (Final Phase) - This will be a grand composition utilizing the sounds from the other audio aspects and more. All things coming to a point, as the creation is completed and moves into destruction.
The soundscapes will combine the visual and meta-physical thru distance and volume. As the different sections of The Machine interact, they will provide the ambiance necessary to create an effective state of artistic arrest.
The Machine will be bugged and interactive utilizing multi-sensory inputs. 10-channel participant and observer-controlled audio will illuminate the auditory sense and enhance the visual elements of the conscious and subconscious. Tactile sub-audible frequencies will be displayed throughout The Machine giving it life. Whispers will be sent hundreds of meters across the playa to passers-by effecting their subconscious thoughts and observations of the structure from a distance.
Participants' voices will be recorded, amplified, and displayed throughout The Machine. A station for approved sound engineers will allow the creation of live-mix environments as well as the setup new automated environments, which can be left for the participants to interact with.
A 30-minute procession and performance will initiate the destruction of the Machine. We will witness the Machine as the human psyche: the conscious, subconscious and the unconscious. The degeneration of the psyche will lead to the destruction of sculpture.
The drive wheel platforms represent the unconscious mind, the libido, violence and sexual desire where psychic energy originates. The platform below, the social area, will represent the subconscious and the highest level of the structure the conscious or the connection with the outside world.
The performance begins with a procession of quadruped stilted creatures pulling Taiko drums. The entire cast enters in procession with the creatures and circles the perimeter of the structure leaving the drums at the base of each drive wheel. The cast spreads out to the perimeter or ascends to the upper platform for the performance.
Conscious - Consciousness is represented by a complex acro-balance routine. Primary Element, an acro-balancing troupe, will create this segment. Video projection and stage lighting on screens will make the performance visible, by enlarging their figures, to people at a distance.
Subconscious - The subconscious is symbolized with aerials and ribbons. Performers will be partially obscured by various pieces of hanging fabric. Their shadows will also be accentuated with lighting and projections, but not as large as in the acro-balance routine. Rigging will support the equipment necessary for this segment.
Unconscious - Fire performance will be used to represent the unconscious. Each drive wheel station will be used as a stage to display the animal instinct of human nature. The space in-between the wheels will be used for fighting sequences and large tools such a meteors, tri-sectional staff, swords and poi. The cage/stages are for erotic solo and partner fire dancing (static tools only). Fire performers from Pyrosutra and Kaos Kids will participate.
Musical cues for the acro-balancers will sound as they throw the ropes down to the warriors for the fighting sequence, representing the deconstruction of the psyche. The people in the fighting sequence will grab the ropes and be joined by the Machine project crew and the crowd to pull the structure down. The Taiko drums will begin moving out before the limbs start to fall. The drums will continue playing during their exit and then, when the final segment crumbles, go silent.
Leslie Rosen, the director of the production, will keep everyone on task and working toward the artistic vision of the show. There will be team leaders for each of the three segments: Acro-Denny (Primal Element), Aerials- Monk (Birds of Paradise), Fire, Stilting Lead, and Drumming-Jay (Pyrosutra). We will supply our own perimeter and safety for the performance. Ranger Zeitgeist (Corprew Reed) will manage the crew.
As the Machine transforms it will emit distinctive scents. Each shape will have a corresponding aroma adding a dimension beyond the basic three - one that transcends even time.
Aesthetic olfaction adds more than elements of atmosphere. Due to the principal effect (via neurotransmitter stimulation) on the psyche, properly designed essence compounds are capable of eliciting complex emotional responses from exposed individuals. The limbic system of the brain, which receives information from nasal chemoreceptors about particular odors, not only mediates mood and emotion, but also serves as a memory storage area. This common junction, where memories, emotions and odors meet, explains why smell can be an intense trigger for distinct memories and potent emotions. When perceiving a particular aroma that is associated with a past memory, the recognition of the odor in the olfactory process will simultaneously evoke the correlated memory.
When inhaled, odor molecules are absorbed in the nasal passage and bound to chemoreceptors in the olfactory epithelium. This binding initiates a change in the permeability of the sensory neuron, which creates a slow electric potential that travels to the olfactory bulb.
From the olfactory bulb, the transmitted signal is sent to the limbic system of the brain for further processing. Recognition of the odor occurs in the limbic system. The signal is interpreted through a comparison to past experiences. Furthermore, chemical reactions are easily triggered by a wide variety of essence molecules; these include serotonin, dopamine, and even epinephrine.
The majority of aromas perceived involve a complex organization of hundreds of odor molecules, and through the simultaneous recognition of the individual odor molecules, a complex scent is recognized as a whole equal to the sum of its parts.
Everything moves. Rest does not exist. Don't let yourself be controlled by obsolete notions of time. Away with hours, seconds and minutes. Stop resisting change. EXIST IN TIME - BE STATIC, BE STATIC WITH THE MOVEMENT. For stasis, in the now occurring NOW. Resist the anxious impulse to stop what moves, to freeze moments and to kill what lives. Give up constructing «values» that always collapse anyway. Be free, live! Stop «painting» time. Give up building cathedrals and pyramids, that will fall apart like sugar-candy. Breathe deep, live in the now, live on and in time. For a beautiful and absolute reality!
- Jean Tiinguely
"The transformations of culture do not take place in history, they take place in myth. A model, a hypothesis, or a myth is a way of rendering the invisible. Because the unconscious is outside time, it can perceive transformations beyond the limits of the ego. These unconscious perceptions are expressed in art or mythologies. We ourselves are living in an age of cultural transformation, but if you went to the experts to ask for a description, they would tell you nothing. You have to go to those who are at home in the unconscious and in the subconscious, the artists and prophets: through myth and symbol in art, science fiction or religion, they will describe the present by speaking about the future."
- William Irwin Thompson