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2020 is looking hot!

We’re cooking up something new for 2020: we’ve applied for an art grant from Burning Man to bring you a new interactive experience combining fire and sound!

Here’s what we’ve put together so far (this is for the LOI stage of the process).

Project Summary

Interactive fire art in a corral that dares people to play in a shared dance of flames and sound. A set of 200 flame effect pixels in an open V shape with proximity sensors and a more dense display at its crux. The flames respond to sensor data to communicate simple gamified rules of participation.

Physical Description

8 flame panels, each with 25 (5×5) individual pixels of flame, are mounted at varying heights. A pixel is a 1′ x 1′ steel box open on the front, individually controlled to fill the box with flames. Each flame is small but the overall effect is a changing tableau of fire. The panels are placed in a V shape, with the highest panels at the entrance creating an invitation. Chains, fencing and orientation imply a corral, with the area of focus being at the apex of the V: 2 flame panels stacked. As visitors move toward the apex the experience intensifies as panels are closer together. A large “victory poofer” will be installed on top, projecting flames into the night sky. Proximity sensors and speakers will point in. Wooden benches will be provided for relaxation.

Physical Dimensions

The overall space requirement on the playa is 75′ x 85′, with a fence at 20′ from any flame source. The installation is a V Shape. The length of the V is 40′, the width of the opening is 36′, and the maximum height is 11′.

Interactivity

When participants interact with sensors, animations appear on nearby flame pixel displays. Responding to feedback increases the intensity of the flame animation response. Audio cues timed with flame pixels moving towards the apex in surround sound provide clues to the ruleset. Once the apex panels reach a threshold, an emotional payoff display occurs. With additional participants in range, rules become simplified, collective yet capable of more spectacular displays of fire.

Mission

The art requires participation to do interesting things, and interacts by celebrating that level of participation. Curiosity is encouraged through interactive effects in evolution with audience movement. A forum for both contemplation individually and participation as a group, with invitations of flowing fire in reaction to the flow of the audience, is provided. While the installation can be triggered by an individual, the ruleset is easier to follow with a group, encouraging communal effort.

What is the philosophy of your piece?

In 2015 we created Fire Tetris: a large interactive fire art project. It was impressive & well-received by citizens of Black Rock City, but necessarily constrained by Tetris rules and gameplay. Here, interactivity is dynamic & variable, and the layout invites both approach and awe.

Inspired by many interactive works, our goal is to create a beautiful & inspiring experience by combining fire & sound in novel ways. The piece will reward curiosity, observation, and collective creative problem solving. Interacting with the art increases how fantastic the resulting animations become. Participants are invited to play and ‘dance’ together to create something greater. Fantastic climaxes will be followed by a calmer, suppressed level of response. This will punctuate the meaning of the communal effort. Large scale impacts can be created within moments of interpersonal flow. Participants will leave empowered and aware of the wondrous results collective actions make possible.

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