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Truth is a personal conquest which one attains through a mystery.

The Burning Man festival has evolved from a simple gathering of people on a beach in San Francisco into a spectacular spectacle. Burners travel from all over the world to meet in the Black Rock desert of Nevada where they form a city of temporary structures and burn a huge towering figure of a man. The theme of the 2017 burning man event will be Radical Ritual, an attempt to reinvent ritual in our post-post-modern world disregarding assertions of belief and concentrating instead on the immediate experience of play. Fractured cosmos seeks to provide this year’s burners with an edible artwork experience in the playa, a crystalline structure made from hard boiled sugar candy.

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Fractured Cosmos draws the inspiration for its form from the Shri Yantra Mandala, a mystical diagram used in the Shri Vidya school of Hindu Tantra. The diagram, nine Isosceles triangles interlaced to form 43 smaller triangles, is said to be symbolic of the entire cosmos. The geometry of this symbol, usually depicted as a flat, two-dimensional construct, has been inclined, distorted and fractalized out of its two-dimensional plane to create a series of inclined planes for Burners to inhabit and play within.

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recursion-diagram

Those cultures which meditate using the Shri Yantra symbol believe life exists between two planes, that of Samsara, this earth plane, and Nirvana, a perfect heavenly plane. One transcends from Samsara to Nirvana when they have gained enough genuine insight into impermanence and non-self reality. This notion has been reinterpreted as a series of transparent colourful planes on the playa, casting colourful light onto the ground beneath our feet. Each of the planes will be made from coloured rock candy, offering burners the opportunity to perceive an altered sweeter perspective of the world, as well as a delicious treat if they’re brave enough to lick it.

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The use of hard boiled candy as the structural material for the pavilion means the structure will be made by mixing sugar, liquid glucose and Creme de Tartar with water. This concoction will be boiled to a temperature of 145 degrees celsius before pouring into formwork to cure. Waterproof LED lights will be added once the liquid has cooled to a sufficient temperature, and these will be used to light the structure at night.

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The plinth of Fractured Cosmos must be strong enough to support the weight of the candy structure above plus the added weight of any burners, tie the structure down, capture any waste which falls off the structure as it is consumed and house the power source for the night time lighting. This has been designed using the same method of recursion as the candy structure to create a plinth using the mandala’s cosmic gate element as its inspiration. the final form generates a climbable podium for burners to ascend before inspecting and consuming.

mandala-diagrams

My study about a custom G-Code for FDM 3d printing geometries based on a central axis (not necessarily a straight line! – any curve would do). Rather than printing layer by layer horizontal sections that are uneven and inefficient in terms of travel time, the slices are consistent and always perpendicular to the central axes. Moreover the transition between layers – rather than being done from a single point through a vertical motion which is the traditional approach – is a continuous gradual motion upwards, the travel path resembling a spiral, thus improving efficiency.

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“Fiery Lanterns” is an expression of sustainability and simplicity, in a modern consumerist world when simple ancient systems are taken for granted. In the theme “Caravansary”, the installation aims to initiate a cultural exchange, encasing Burners and creating crossroads to connect world’s neighbourhoods. The installation shows the possibilities of analysing natural mathematical systems, which we commonly interact with in everyday life and reinterpreting them. Research to produce “Fiery Lanterns”, has allowed detailed prototyping of bending timber to create a memory structure. Testing it to destruction and pushing the understanding of its properties, utilising its strengths and minimalising its weaknesses.

The installation takes inspiration from natural repeating phyllotaxis spirals in sunflower heads. These interconnecting spirals are orientated by the mathematical rules of the golden ratio and governed by successive Fibonacci numbers, to create beautiful majestic forms. This is translated into the identical panels of the “Fiery Lantern”, simply stitched together; they twist and turn to create an ornate case to protect the flames within. This is communicated to the Burner by the symmetry in the design and how you interact with the lanterns. It gives a modern definition of the possibilities of encasement in wood and builds on what is capable using this system.

Panel Assembly Detail

“Fiery Lanterns” are made from four identical stitched panels, which are rotated around each lantern’s central axis.  The curves of the panels are all related to each other, allowing the lanterns to be tightly packed together. The exterior form purposely deceives the Burner, enticing them to explore within and encase themselves in the individual lanterns. The internal maze encourages the exchange and interaction of cultural ideas, to proceed to the pinnacle shimmering lantern.

Spirallehedron Packing

The lanterns are driven into the ground, creating a solid structure, with no predefined front, back or side. The hidden internal entrance, allows Burners to search for the center of the “Fiery Lantern”, crawling or relaxing in the shade, connecting with the playa so as to reach encasement. It does not create barriers in the vast landscape of the Black Rock City, but the lantern’s openings invite a glimpse of the vibrant treasure within. The Burner views the internal surprise and is encouraged to have their own sensory journey, weaving through the individual lanterns, taking their own experience and creating their personal connections. The pinnacle lantern, offers a perspective view over the playa, allowing the Burner reflection on the path below.

Fiery Lanterns spirals out of the harsh compact playa ground in the vast expanse of Black Rock City, surrounded by Burners and art installations. Burners can interact with the installation, explore the individual lanterns and find the Burners encased within. They seek to reach the pinnacle lantern, for reflection on the way forward. As the sun sets at the end of the festival, the internal flames in the lantern will be extinguished and the installation burnt.   

Fiery Lantern_Interior View to Pinnacle Lantern

The installation has evolved through a detailed research into the natural repeating phsyllotaxis spirals in sunflower heads. It is interesting to consider how each spiral is interconnected with the next and governed by the same set of mathematical rules, however changing the parameters changes the resultant architectural form. This is translated in the individuality of the Burning Man experience, the internal connections between the lanterns, offer the same experience, but generate differing personalised interactions with the Burners encased within.

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Physical modelling demonstrated how the related curves in the components, allows for the lanterns to be tightly packed together. The repeating panels and simplistic design principle, enable open resourcing meaning once the Fiery Lanterns’ flame has been extinguished it can be resurrected at various scales, using the same laser cutting templates.

The scale of the lanterns, allows each component to be cut from a single sheet for plywood, meaning only repeating vertical seams are expressed. Each lantern is an intimate encasing, fitting one or two Burners. Burners must transverse through each lantern in order to reach the pinnacle, it encourages travellers to cross paths and initiate a cultural exchange. 12mm birch faced plywood is used, as the thickness allows the material to be flexible, but also retains its strength. The plywood becomes malleable once soaked in warm water and can be stitched into the panels. The assembly process and onsite installation is simple and uses minimal bolts.

The flame cannot be lit in the lantern until the ornate encasement has been completed. Construction commences through ground anchoring the secluded base lanterns. Soaking and stitching the panels for the internal maze, allows the form to evolve to enable the crowning of the pinnacle lantern. Once dry the Fiery Lantern is complete, the wood’s structural capabilities and sturdiness return, the flame can be lit and it can guide the souls of the playa.

Fiery Lantern_Shimmering in the Dusk Sunlight

The internal space provides a refuge in the vast expanse of the landscape, shielding from the winds and creating a portal of shade. However, it is not a solitary experience; the openings allow all Burners access to the space. You are able to see out, past or through the structure to the rest of Black Rock City.

Fiery Lantern_Night Time Specticle

The lack of a defined entrance means Fiery Lantern has a differing appearance from each angle. It encourages Burners to explore the proposal, to realise encasement. It draws them to the warmth and love of the flames within.

Fiery Lantern_Physical Model

Fiery Lantern PlanFiery Lantern_Section

The lack of a defined entrance means Fiery Lantern has a differing appearance from each angle. It encourages Burners to explore the proposal, to realise encasement. It draws them to the warmth and love of the flames within.

This gallery contains 1 photo.

  aka The Desert Diamond A spectral construct unearthed by the shifting sands of the Black Rock Desert, the Infinity stone is left. An Architectural Cipher it lays on its side, open and yawning towards the sun. The structure symbolizes both the illusion of material wealth and its realization – The diamond, is hollow, and mirrored. It forces …

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Near Unison, my project exploring harmonographic traces is currently being shown at Kinetica Art Fair. The exhibition is in Ambika P3, the exhibition space attached to the University of Westminster on Marylebone Road. For more information on the exhibition, and details about tickets and opening times please visit the Kinetica Art Fair website.

Kinetica Art Fair - Near Unison

The exhibit features a prototype of the interactive harmonograph swings that could form part of the larger installation proposed for Burning Man Festival, along with casts of the harmonographic traces left in sand, and photographic work documenting the process.

“The 5th Kinetica Art Fair returns February 28th – March 3rd 2013 at Ambika P3, as one of London’s annual landmark art exhibitions and a permanent fixture in the Art Fair calendar, renowned as the UK’s only art fair dedicated to kinetic, robotic, sound, light, time-based and new media art.

Kinetica is hosting the work of over 45 galleries and art organisations nationally and internationally, with representatives from UK, France, Russia, USA, Poland, Holland, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Indonesia and Japan, collectively showing over 400 works of art.

A huge interactive light sculpture from Dutch artist Titia Ex will greet visitors as they enter the impressive Ambika P3 venue, and giant 3D sculptures from Holotronica will hover above the main space of the Fair. Other highlights include an exoskeleton hybrid of mananimal-machine by Christiann Zwanniken; a giant three dimensional zoetrope by Greg Barsamian; and a life-size ‘Galloping Horse’ made of light by Remi Brun”

Kinetica Art Fair Press Release

Below are some digital experiments showing my first attempts to replicate the wax structures I created with hot wax in water. To achieve these I used maya fluids converted to meshes, then rendered. The difficulty is in understanding the fluid parameters which define it’s density, gravity, viscosity, friction, velocity, turbulence, dispersion and so on. Like with the physical experiments I have begun to add obstacles to see how the fluid reacts.

Digital wax flows 1 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.

Digital wax flows 4 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.

Digital wax flows 3 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.

day view

day view

“Fractal Cult” is an installation consisting of two types of structures that aim to create an intriguing, mesmerising, explorative, playful and interactive experience for visitors of the 2013 Burning Man festival, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

night view

night view

The geometry of the installation is based on the work of Swedish mathematician Niels Fabian Helge von Koch and in particular his invention of the Koch Snowflake, one of the earliest fractal curves to be described. Specifically, the structures are an adaptation of Koch Snowflake’s principles into a three-dimensional environment that essentially starts with a regular tetrahedron and recursively generates new tetrahedrons on each of its faces resulting in a complex, yet simply and efficiently defined, end result.

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Fractal progression in 2D and 3D

The installation is consisted by 4 timber-made, fractal pods that symmetrically surround a space frame-like structure of a similar fractal nature and with climbing nets dressing the faces of the geometrical shape that is created.

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Timber Pod construction progress

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Timber Pod interior photos of 1.5 : 1 model


The timber pods, during daylight, are the first structure that a visitor encounters and both initiate and welcome the exploration of its symmetric but complex structure. Visitors are also able to enter the pods and experience an even more intriguing spectacle of the formation of faces and joints that create a kaleidoscope-like effect. They can also be used as temporary shelters from wind and sun, or even a meditation space. During the night, these timber fractal pods are illuminated from their interior, creating magnificent patterns of lighting that will attract visitors and welcome them to explore the site.

night plan view

night plan view

The imposing, central structure, during daylight, attracts visitors with its fractal nature, yet simple construction, and invites visitors to climb and engage with it with in all sorts of ways. Climbing the exterior and attempting to reach the top or even getting inside the interior and enjoy the complexity that the multiple layers of nets create. Moreover, the structure can definitely be seen as becoming a much more live thing during the festival, with people using the nets to create temporary shelters from the sun by weaving cloth materials or similar, forming a patchwork effect on the structure’s faces. It is difficult to predict exactly the kind of behaviour that visitors will have towards such a structure but more likely than not its lightweight nature, great size and the multifunctional nature of nets will allow for several different scenarios which would be great to observe. During the night, the structure maintains the same use but it is symmetrically lit with stage lights pointing from the ground up that will give the structure an illuminating effect and hopefully attract visitors from far away.

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Main structure construction process

Last but not least, the geometry of the structures is strongly spiritually connected to Mekabah, a divine light vehicle allegedly used by ascended masters to connect with and reach those in tune with the higher realms. “Mer” means Light. “Ka” means Spirit. “Ba” means Body. Mer-Ka-Ba means the spirit/body surrounded by counter-rotating fields of light, (wheels within wheels), spirals of energy as in DNA, which transports spirit/body from one dimension to another.

merkabah

Merkabah

Overall, “Fractal Cult” aims to offer a great variety of fun and explorative options, as well as serving as a place able to transform to temporary shelter or meditation space for visitors, while at the same time impose beauty through its fractal and symmetric nature.

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1.5 : 1 Model photo in DS10 studio