seaGrass is an interactive sculpture, designed to bring the sensations of tides, waves, and the depth of the ocean to the Black Rock desert. The playa presents an ideal canvas to explore these dynamic forces; wind, people, and sound will all be used to invigorate and alter the sculpture. seaGrass will react to the environment in ways that model currents in an ocean or tidal forces.
Water is a critical part of Burning Man- the playa literally emerges from underwater each summer and reorganizes itself to become an ocean of life, creativity and transformation. The playa is, in many ways, like an ocean. Other Burning Man projects have represented objects on top of or on the surface of this ocean: the aftermath of a shipwreck, a deep sea monster’s constant search for food, or a whimsical three hour tour. This project will uniquely represent what happens beneath the surface of the ocean– an unseen world is made visible, and comes alive in the playa.
An important part of this project is scale. The individual blades of grass will combine to create the feelings of immersion and protection. Participants will be able to collaborate and change the project, simply through noise or movement. The sculpture will change depending on the weather and the input of those around it. It will combine nature, technology and interactivity in dynamic and unique ways, providing a dynamic canvas for participant interaction.
From a distance, seaGrass appears as a cluster of vertical light beams. Given the height of the towers, participants initially think that the sculpture is much closer than it actually is. Only after focusing on the blades do people realize that the blades of grass are gently swaying, reacting to wind and people. Spending more time watching the sculpture, they realize that the colors are changing, vibrating, and reacting to each other in coordinated ways. The blades are visible from any direction making it a destination from any point on the playa. When participants arrive at the site, they are invited to move into the field of towers. At that point they realize that they can also physically interact with the piece by pushing on the towers to help make the blades sway. Depending on the particular layout, participants may want to lay down and gaze upwards or ride their bikes in and around the blades of grass.
seaGrass consists of a group of 30 identical 30’ tall towers (each representing one blade of grass) that will be positioned in a variety of layout patterns. Each tower contains a strand of 50 full color, fully addressable LEDs that are strung up the full length of the tower. These LEDs are also surrounded by a diffusion shroud to make the lights appear to be a continuous light band from top to bottom. The tower is supported on a wooden base using springs and cables to allow it to sway and self center. A computer / radio / battery box is attached to the base and covered by a decorative fairing. Additionally, a central control unit, will be carried by a team member. This is an iPhone running a custom application which will communicate to the group of towers allowing the team member to change the pattern being displayed.