The inspiration for a mobile puppet platform came from fellow Burner Karl Gesslein, who has made large puppets for years now that were human-powered. These were heavy, and exhausting to carry. Since the desert location for the event is vast, an art vehicle of some form is needed; indeed, this is the only kind of motorized transportation at Burning Man. The concept, which you can see here, is a four-wheeled electric motor-driven fat-tire vehicle, which debuted in the Ithaca Festival Parade in June. Bicycles were obtained, cut up and welded to make a mobile platform with a 15 foot wheelbase; it's kind of like two tandem bicycles that are connected together.
The puppet, mounted on a central 30-foot steel tower on the bike platform, can be operated by four participant-riders using poles to make the figure dance to the music played on the included sound system. This kind of participatory art is fundamental to the Burning Man experience, and it requires the puppeteer-dancers to coordinate with one another to make the puppet form meaningful, graceful gestures. The puppet frame is made of bamboo, and is covered with over 15,000 LEDs that can change color and held together with over 1000 zip ties (!)
The original puppet had a 6 foot diameter cowboy hat added on its head, an homage to Burning Man's founder Larry Harvey who passed away this year. It needed to be removed for safe hoisting and transport, but with your help, we can get this magnificent and inspiring creation out to the desert and put the hat back on! This will be the first art vehicle for the RhythmWave camp, of which the artists are a part. They include Laurence Clarkberg, master welder and bicycle mechanic, Jonathan Plotkin, and of course, Karl Gesslein as well. Here, Karl and I are building a large crate to ship the puppet and bike platform across the country - again, with your help! We need to raise $4,000 in the next two weeks to make this happen. This includes $2,800 for the materials of construction (including $750 in LEDs, $750 in the Sound System, $500 for the Crate, Bicycles, Steel cable and tubing, and Hardware for example) and $1,200 for truck transportation to Nevada. Please, give generously and thanks for your support!
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