Burning Man Light Field



The burning man festival proposal is a light field generated by abstracting the star map of the night sky. Each angled upright element is influenced by hidden forces to generate a sculptural light installation in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The conceptual notion itself references the collective participation and expression of the 50,000 individuals that collectively make the arts and music festival an extraordinary event.

top view [Converted]

The star locations influencing the field are determined by their celestial location on the night of the annual ritual of the burning of the man effigy, the symbolic climax of the festival. The stars composing the series of constellations that are present on the night of the burn, are used as charged locations that influence the angle and direction of individual elements within the field.

The abstract representation of the night star field is transmitted through a series of tubes, each containing colour range emitting LEDs lights which are programmable to change colour, pulsate  and display patterns. Individual elements consist of simple acrylic tube, re-enforcement bar anchors, lights and internal fixings. In total there are 924 elements composing the light field. The lengths of individual elements are sorted according to their locational proximity to Polaris, the North Star, in combination with a series of Sin curve graph maps. The shortest elements are removed to created void spaces within the field to encourage exploration, provide space for performance, rest or contemplation amid unusual surroundings.

The project evolved from early research into the digital and physical representation of vector field conditions, as symbols of the intangible forces generated by magnetic charges, streamlines and vector currents.



Equipotential / Streamlines / Vector Field – early experiments



















Early experiments with DS10 this term have involved the use of the Flow-L plug-in for grasshopper to generate streamlines through fields containing charged point locations. The points act as negative magnetic forces directing the streamlines away through space resulting in an interesting visual mix of converging and diverging directional bias for the streamlines. For the purpose of the visualisation the lines are then simply extruded to form an interesting sculptural form that seemingly combines visual elements of both structure and randomness.

Other experiments have used the alternative function provided within the Flow-L plug-in components to generate  equipotential lines and pseudo-random patterns in 2D. The components allow the creation of complex patterns influenced by point charges of varying intensity by jittering the values for the point charges.



Further investigations will follow by which these early experiments are translated into 3D physical models and structural systems.

Homo Ludens

Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture.

The seminal sociological work by the Dutch Cultural theorist Johan Huizinga  (December 7, 1872 – February 1, 1945) describes and analyses the nature and significance of the play element in culture, a phenomenom hugely relevant to the nature of the individual experience at Burning Man festival.

“In play there is something ‘at play’ which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action”

Huizinga describes the detachment and unreality of playing and the way in which it provides release from the reality of the everyday, embodied in the idea of constructing a temporary city (or playground) in the desert, in which fun, interaction and play are fundamental facets of the experience .

“The feeling of being ‘apart together’ in an exceptional situation, of sharing something important, of mutually withdrawing from the rest of the world and rejecting the usual norms, retains its magic beyond the duration of the individual game.”

Bending Curves on Kangaroo

As part of an investigation into gridshells I posted in the Grasshopper forum to try and find a solution to a definition using the bend force component through the Kangaroo plug-in for Grasshopper.

My intention was to deform a grid into lathes using a bend force whilst maintaining the overall length of each lathe (or curve) as a representation of how gridshell are constructed on site, where they are raised or lowered into position from an originally flat grid, and deform or bend due to their own self weight.

Daniel Piker the creator of Kangaroo replied with a very useful script component that allows the user to easily find the correct inputs for a divided curve that is plugged into the bend component.

He also very kindly finished the definition for me.

The files including the C# script component can be found in the forum post here if you would also like to investigate the bend force.


Above: Video Capture showing the curves bending in Rhino with Kangaroo