Pirate - pony ship : faceted metal life-size ponies that carousel, with flame whistles above, a wooden decked metal-truss ship beneath, rolling on fat tires and airbags with a stage on the back deck.
This car is completely custom - designed and built it from the ground up for the playa. It's basically steel trusses wrapped around a custom-built gooseneck trailer frame, with integral drive mechanisms to make the horses go up and down. It uses parts from a pickup truck to motivate. But it's completely purpose built: that purpose being to entertain, delight, and transform the participants.
The piece changes annually - the horses (after all this time, the project started in 2007) are finally getting finished. They got front legs last year, and will get back legs this year. I have to stop there - there are tattoos of the horse heads out there, can't change 'em. This is in addition to the other incremental upgrades throughout the car, dealing with the wear and tear of playa abuse, and ever optimizing the setup / teardown systems. Michelle is campaigning for fenders / deflectors for the side wheels, as safety elements, I'm trying to figure out how to make them look good. And wings, maybe, always those things to think about... and new rules. No wedding rings on the Acavallo! Ask me why. I'll show you my stub.
This car was built to inspire, to engage, and to cause participation. It's really only art when it's swarming with happy people, going up and down on the road to nowhere. Spinning beats on the back, hitting the drums, dancing on the horses, climbing up the ladder, so nervous, or so confident, up on the catwalk, alive as they will ever be. As an artist, I strive to create spaces for people to find joy, I want people to feel good, and this ship has been working for years doing just that. It is a platform for self-expression, everyone who gets on board is a participant, and becomes an active part of the artistic experience that is the Acavallo. The ludicrous, and the sublime, the ridiculous and the critical.
The lighting is incandescent, for warmth. Ball lights trace the arcing profiles of the rigging staying the masts, theatrical lights here and there light up key areas on the deck, and the stage lighting in the back, and a disco ball in the middle, swaying drunkenly, finish the scene. The vibe is very sexy, so the on-deck lighting is minimal, we all look better that way. A couple of years ago, I added offroad LED lights to illuminate the undercarriage, and ground around, which are controlled by a switch-box keyboard that the participants can 'play', causing the lights to flash organically. It really makes the car pop! Like Zeus beneath. Plus the fire overhead.
Dan Glass's fire effects are amazing - poofer organ pipes with variable pitch and radical honks and toots? Yes. All of that. More at Acavallocarousel.com. Or search youtube. There are some videos up there of past shenanigans.
A keyhole installation inviting people to stop and engage, and a Burning Man honoraria project for 2019. Penguin firepits, arrayed about a small dusty shack with a single door, with supplies for Antarctic nights. A tribute to penguins, and their ridiculous fish-powered space-heater fortitude. A calm island amid the rush in and out of the city.
Metal fire-pit penguins (faceted steel, a bit cartoonish in their pot-bellied awkward way, but gracefully finished in clean geometry), arrayed around a small wooden shack. Haphazardly arranged to form pockets of warmth, with benches provided here and there for the participants to arrange as they desire.
The penguins are hollow-bellied, to house a nice propane fire: big enough to hold an egg sized rock over the burner, with adequate airflow and ventilation for good combustion, screened to let out the heat, with a gypsum layered underbelly to insulate the ground.
The shack is a knocked up structure of hand-milled wood leftovers, with a single door and flat roof, simple and charming. Inside, shelves for storing boxes of fish-crackers and anchovies to be randomly distributed as they are discovered.
The colony is to draw in people that are in transit, going in or out past the keyhole - a burner trap, as it were, to cause participants to pause in their rush, and meet each other and hang out for a minute or an hour. The fires provide comfortable warmth, the benches a place to relax, the penguins a visual treat. The shack a secret place, with that tempting door with its rustic latch rewarding the curious with crackers and anchovies.
Incompletely documented, due to artist injury. Had to be there to experience it!
SILKS BY MICHELLE LI MURPHY
A place for civil disunion, a place to let go the past, embrace the future, to acknowledge growth, change, and the infinite unknown. A place to forgive, to selectively forget, to erase bad feelings, to reclaim friendship and mutual respect.
The structure by Quill is simple, coarse even, sticks and ropes holding eachother, a static dance of tension vs. compression, a grounded absorber & radiator of bad vibes. Michelle's silk flags are lovingly hand dyed, are gods and godessess, they wave in perpetual motion, moving to the slightest breeze, animated and alive.
3 doorways allow two to enter, as a couple, through one, and then each leave through a separate exit. 1 door in, two doors out.
So much of our culture is geared toward the permanence of union, and so much weight placed on its perpetuity, that we felt it necessary to acknowledge the other side, to acknowledge that life is cycles, that people change and grow continually. And sometimes they grow apart, sometimes it's necessary to dissolve a union to find a friendship again. So we created a space for that to happen.
Bicycle powered xylophone, stretched out into the playa. Metal chimes, tuned to notes, suspended on aircraft cables, struck while riding by on a bicycle, make music. The chimes can be moved around easily, making composition easy - vary the spacing and the sequence, and presto! Melody.
Basically, it consists of a 2-dimensional suspension bridge of steel tube uprights with aircraft cables, with a cable stretched out about 5' off the ground. Metal tubes hang from the cable, and can be moved along it easily to vary the spacing. Lit with xmas lights along the cable, powered by batteries and solar cells. The lighting was... inadequate. Burning Man arts supplied flashing yellow lights on barricades along either side - a good idea. The piece was basically an invisible cable stretched at neck height across the desert.... I did get it lit up better, but it took me all week scavenging LEDs from people and wiring them together. The glamorous life of an artist - holed up in a horse-trailer, trying to get playa covered wires to take solder. Thanks, Andy Jones, for making that possible. It takes a team.
This piece came to me in a dream - I was on a tiny clown bicycle, and it was in a mountain pass on the way to the beach, but the effect came through - it's a way to bring melodic interaction on a large-ish scale, it's an instrument that can be played by anyone, it's low tech, easy and fun, and maximally interactive. It could also be brought anywhere in the world for not much money, as it packs flat. So to speak.
The chimes are color keyed to their respective notes, to make composition easy (just like the rainbow xylophone we all played as kids). The notes can be easily moved by anyone. The sequence of notes and the space between them dictate the melody played as you ride along. Good times!
The most interested person, who really really got into it, would pack all the notes together down at one end and explore their harmonics - because I just cut the tubes on a chop saw to a sharpie mark, they were all slightly different lengths, and would ring at slightly different frequencies. Awesome aural art happened. And also chaos, there was a lot of chaos going on.
I lost my phone that year, so got no documentation, other than what I found later on the internet. I'm much better at physical art than photography. I got the phone back, after the burn, I'd dropped it on the side of the road on the way in. A highway worker found it! Love.
10' wide, 150' long, 6' tall. Something like that.
There are two of these things - Tribal drumbuggies, offroad inspired post-apocalyptic boogy wagons with big drums. The cars are highly mobile and highly entertaining. The project started in 2008, and was an Honoraria for that year, and they've been back ever since. Initially electric, now gasoline-hydraulic powered, they've evolved a lot mechanically over the years. I have one, and Andy Jones the other. They're the best art-cars I've ever built, and the inspiration was all Andy Jones - we met post burn 2007, and started talking, and these cars were the result.
They're totally custom, built from the ground up. I designed it all. A riff on a future where apocalyptic drummers drive around on rough terrain - the car has a very flexible suspension, a totally custom hydraulic drive system, and is laid out for successful interactions with the public. The car has shade, is easy to get on, or get off, the driver is in an elevated central position at the back of the car, so has natural authority, and it's very slow.
It's a piece of desert theater, really. A stage. A performance space. The cars have gotten richer in texture through the years, as Andy and I each customize our own car. Andy's is in the first picture in the slideshow -with lots of storage boxes and extra batteries and toolkits - he even carries a tow-strap! Which has been very handy! My car is more minimal, but janky, that delightful mix of elegant and WTF when there's no place for the cooler. All the detail adds to the immersion.
The car inspires many conversations with engineers and builders, I've had so many people look at it twice and say ' it's totally custom!!' and "I want to do that!" and I really hope they do. Get after it, make a car from scratch, it's a lot of work but so rewarding. Every time it bump steers it makes me happy - because I designed all the steering geometry, and I did it wrong, but that's how you learn. I'll do better next time.
And the drums are great - people want to ride, but they have to drum, which they're insecure about. But drum or get off! Four hours later, they're all drummers. And are transformed.
The car is a mobile stage, really, turning observers into participants, encouraging interaction everywhere it goes. It's meant to transform people, to give them the lift into action, in to participation, bringing them from passive observers to active participants. It's really fun seeing people come alive on the drums!
As time permits I'll do a separate page for this piece, and share some of the incredible stories. There have been so many adventures.... and the project is ongoing. See you out there! Boom d'boom boom boom