Kickstart a sculpture that lets you toss around 80,000 lbs of stone and steel

Zachary writes,

Blurring the line between art and...a freight train, artist Zachary Coffin is leading a team building a massive human powered stone and steel merry-go-round for Burning Man 2012. This experimental hybrid of art and engineering utilizes railroad parts and more to see just how much fun you can have moving over 80,000lbs of stone and steel (bring your friends, solo just ain't gonna work). The sculpture, Universe Revolves Around YOU will be 30 feet (10 meters) in diameter and 27 feet tall and will feature huge slabs of granite and three spinning boulders with room for maybe fifty to ride. You can also step into the middle of the work and be back on terra firma as giant rocks and steel whirl around...YOU.

This sculpture is pushing the limits of art and human interaction and they are asking for help via this Kickstarter campaign. The work will be tested as only a crowd at Burning Man can do. Then the Universe team is looking for new and exciting venues worldwide. So not only can you get cool swag, maybe you can help bring this sculpture to a place nearby. Any open flat space with a LOT of excited people will work, suggestions welcome. More information and build progress here.

(Thanks, Zachary!)


    1.  I’ve played with one of his sculptures before. Yes, they look dangerous. Luckily, class-act engineering makes them safe. It’s funny at Burning Man, there is always a rumor to the effect of “Someone took out a key cotter pin” or something to scare off noobs from swinging on 8000 pound boulders.  Dying is covered in the TOA of Burning Man, it’s why we go.

  1. So utterly pointless… yeah really want to give my money away so some monkeys can swing around a bone crushing heavy equipment. I really think Cory is trolling us here…

    1. This is essentially a critique that can be applied to any art or charity, so…yeah, “F art,” I guess?

      That said, I’d venture a guess that a majority of the funders of this project will actually be the very monkeys who swing about on it later.

  2. “Fund our spinning machine of death!” They seem to be underestimating the forces involved in spinning that much weight – even slow speeds. It’ll be like a people mulcher.

    1. Meh.  They had dozens, probably hundreds, of small children playing on his piece “Colossus” at the Bay Area Maker Faire.  Zach knows how to pull this sort of shit off without squishing anyone.

      1. I was wondering that – I immediately thought of that thing at the maker faire and now I know it’s by the same guy, cool.

        1. Yup!  I was going to post a link to demonstrate, but was worried my comment would therefore get flagged as spam.  Let’s try now:

    2.  No, I think you are underestimating the friction and weight bearing of railroad track and wheels. I’ve swung from his rocks quite effortlessly in the past, and they were multiple ton boulders.  Worked then, I’m sure this will work as well.

  3. Wow. There were way too many instances of “I think” and “it should” and “it might” to make me think that this is going to be anything but a big, dangerous mess.

  4. This is a bit ambitious to get done by the end of August, but you never know just what tricks these engineer-sculptors can pull out of their hats.

    1.  Meh. Those SF kids have it easy. It’s just like 5 hours away. Talk to the people who drag crap out halfway across the country.

      1. Because it’s there.
        Motto of the sportsman.
        Because it isn’t there.
        Motto of the artist.

  5. Yay, hippie crusher part 2.  Zack’s art scares the shit out of me. Every time I look at it I expect a granite boulder to split in two and crush someone.  With that said I love it, from a physics and engineering point of view it is incredible to see.  

  6. Yeah, spinning that should be as easy as……..pulling a train car. Hope nobody kicks any sand on the rails, that would mess with the roll. But there’s no sand in the desert, right?

    1. There hasn’t been any rain on the playa for months. The sand there is more like dust and ubiquitous, in piles six inches deep in some places, already. “Low friction?” I doubt it.

  7. Inertia! Momentum!

    edit: they will spend the first day getting it going and the rest of the time waiting for it to slow down.

    love it, though.

  8. Woohoo… i just watched this film Dust & Illusions ( where Zachary’s sculptures are shown a few times. That guy is a great artist. The film was not the standard “I want to marry Burning Man and die there” kind of film… actually it was a real documentary, the first time I saw a film like that on that event. Usually they’re cheesier than thou! But to my point the film was great in demonstrating that artists like Zach, or the Flaming Lotus Girls are at the core of Burning Man… without the art, it’d be just a party… but the art is  the true thread of the event for the past 30 years…. the 30 years of history that is covered in the film… really a great documentary… and finally critical of the event not so great aspects, a nice fair and balanced thing!! Another scary piece of art… let’s see who dares to challenge it!

  9. This isn’t so much about “Kickstarting” a project that has a thought-out plan and needs funding to get going and execute… this is a project that has already started, has apparently spent-up any liquid assets, and is now using the “Kickstart” platform to try for a bailout.  I should RTFKickstartRules, but this seems not-quite-of-the-spirit… and would, in my eyes, set precedent and therefore open the floodgates to every personal project that’s over budget and “deserves to be finished”, debt-free.  But, as the mantra goes: “vote with your wallet” — time will tell what the voting public think.

  10. Before you mock and trash talk him, why don’t you google some of Zachary Coffin’s previous creations? Or better yet, talk to some of the people who have enjoyed them (including me). He’s built some incredible, fun, playful, beautiful interactive sculptures at Burning Man for a few years now and no, no one has ever gotten hurt by them, although part of the awe and grandeur comes from the instinctive reaction that they are dangerous, beacuse of how he tinkers with massive objects, suspension, and gravity. He puts a lot of time and energy into making these things for others to enjoy. If your art is so much better, then please, grace us with a link to it.

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