the Universe Revolves Around YOU

This is a work about inertia. The idea is to create a plaything, an object that allows YOU to interact with rolling mass equivalent to a loaded railroad freight car. In this case, the load is big slabs of stone, spinning boulders and a lot of humans. Sort of a sculpture mash-up between a merry-go-round an a freight train.

 It was built and shown at Burning Man 2012. We are now working on some mechanical improvements and looking for new venues.


Here is a raw edit of the time-lapse we set up in the shop for the build.  Kind of fun, needs a lot of editing and combining with images in the desert.

When we set it up, I tried to include the eventual pipes in the air in the frame. Later we realized that it was above the height of the bridge crane so we completed the connection in the desert. Hard to think that far ahead.

Anyway, with a thumping beat from the BBoys, it can be fun to watch til we get something more polished:




Thursday August 16.

Big pipes are mostly welded up, now for the box connection and the Rockspinner mount and the boulder mount.

now thats a big pipe

Tuesday August 14:

Coming down to the wire. We are almost done with the big pipes. Now we need to weld the wacky connection between the pipes and the base, this is a lot of steel. Then mount the spinning rock into its bearing, figure out a mount for the static rock and myriads of other details. Down to 7 days before we ship the first load.

getting it ready to weld


welding on the flange. little joe can run some kinda bead.

Thursday August 9: Working toward the finish line now. The work should be rolling on the track for testing tomorrow. The wheel boxes are all in and will be welded up tonight. Hardware for the axles and tracking wheels should be ready today. The main flanges are welded up, now for the base connection of the pipes and the spinning rock…

Lucas relaxing while welding the bottom of a flange.

not a wicked witch

welding the wheel box


Thursday August 2:

We finished up the sections and took the ring apart and stacked the sections.


And we have cut the rail so that we have an accurate ring. Now we have to determine how concentric it is and what adjustments need to be made in the design of the wheel brackets.

where the wheel hits the rail

cuttin the rail


Wednesday August 1:

Awesome progress. The ring got welded up completely last night. Now we can break it up in pieces and stack it out of the way and lay down the track ring, scribe and cut the last piece of track.

circle…complete, now on to the tracks

The wheels came in yesterday. They are monster and should be able to carry the load for at least 100,000 miles:

These should do it.



Saturday July 21:

The rocks from the Sierra Mountains arrived this morning. Here are Heath and Joel having fun unloading.

Heavier than a potato.

The smaller of the platform rocks.

Heath thinks on the arbitrary rock

Two of the 6 sections are now tacked. The piece is going together like a dream. By taking the time to set up our workspace exactly level and taking advantage of the precision of laser cut pieces, everything is dropping right into place.



Wednesday July 18: The skirt is being laid out, all of the internal structural gusset work that will transfer the skirt (24″ tall by 5/16″ thick) from a floppy strip of metal into an amazingly rigid beam is being cut today. We should be able to start tacking the pieces together tonight and will then start discovering all the errors that Zach made while designing it. Zach needs an engineer to watch over his shoulder and check all these plate files, as the artist is error prone…..

Saturday July 14:

Good week. All the big steel came in. And it is big. Starting to really come together. This is a giant piece.

2: We have laid out our perfectly flat and level gravel bed for the “rail ties” and have just about finished arranging them according to final install. Today is the day we pour concrete and should be the end of working with materials other than big steel and big stone. Here are some pics of the process:

The big pipes are now being rolled in Chicago as there isn’t the capacity to roll such large diameter on the west coast, or at least we haven’t been able to locate it. Should be able to ship to us within two weeks. Can you say expensive?

We were just in the Sierras selecting boulders. Here is one of the spinners, this is a big rock, it will be the tallest of the spinners with the top standing about 12 feet above the playa:

Note: The design has been evolving rapidly. Moving from a trio of elements to a dichotomy. The video above shows an early version. Here is a screenshot showing the design direction, more to come:

Start the saws:

Ok, the slab size and number has been determined. A lot more rough/raw stone will be coming from the Sierra’s and a little more exposed steel. We shall be cutting and flame finishing 16 slabs of stone weighing about a ton and half each. Thanks to Blue Sky quarry and McCannon Granite for making this happen.

These are the saws used to cut the slabs.

X marks the keyhole at Burning Man:

This the location for the work. It is a funny spot with all kinds of mo-jo, the number of people and energy level is high. If an interactive sculpture can be broken by humans, this is an excellent place to try. In some ways, this work is a dialogue with the participants of Burning Man at that particular spot. Oh, the humanity….

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