Some artists really don’t want you to think about process. They want to design an experience or impression, and they want you to not think about it—just feel it. Or admire it.
But the truth is, there’s a whole lot of making in most any art project. Take seaGrass, Mauricio Bustos’ pretty elaborate Burning Man installation for this year. It’s a grid of 30 – 30 foot towers that glow, bend and animate. “Imagine wandering around the desert at Burning Man late at night and coming upon a field of huge, gently swaying, beautifully lit blades of grass.”
Not just large in scale, the project required a fair bit of tech. Each tower is fitted with 50 full color LEDs using a Teensy 3.0 board and XBee radio to allow a user to remotely coordinate patterns across the full field of grass blades. A microphone and accelerometer are also connected to each tower to help capture sound and motion as other ways to make the sculpture interactive.
I loved clicking through the seaGrass Facebook picture set, because there is so much process shown there. From renderings to prototypes of the electronics to band saws, you can see what it took to get to the bliss. And do check out the bliss:
Mauricio was trained as mechanical engineer, but these days he’s doing financial modeling for a financial services company. There’s a little bit of overlap, but it’s a bit far from the world of 3D making and materials.
Burningman has been an outlet for Mauricio’s maker self. 2013, the year of seaGrass, was his 13th year going out and making things for the playa. He also teaches an afterschool maker class at his kids’ school where he introduces kids to graphics and processing and servos and motors—all in an effort to take the mystery out of software and hardware.
What’s nice is that Mauricio is bringing seaGrass to East Bay Mini Maker Faire in this same spirit. Given that the fair is in the day, seaGrass isn’t going to really be in its full glory. But Mauricio is hauling five or six of these 30′ tall reeds and is installing them on the front plaza of Studio One. He’ll be there, as an artist and as a maker, to show the back end, to share the process, and what he learned getting to showtime.