Specifically...

This page provides a bit more in-depth information about how exactly this project is going to get done, the inspiration behind the piece, and what the next steps might be.

PUBLIC

2023

Crustacean Face
Crustacean Face

Depicts the finished product with reduced scope of work.

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Rear view- abbreviated version
Rear view- abbreviated version

This is an older sketch showing a much smaller roof deck.

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Jolly Green
Jolly Green

Ain't she a beauty? Our generously dontated base vehicle. 351 Windsor V8 engine, 4 barrel Holley carb, headers, adjustable air shocks, 4WD, dual batteries & a built in air compressor.

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Crustacean Face
Crustacean Face

Depicts the finished product with reduced scope of work.

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1/10

Motivation.

I think about Bison and pickup trucks because they're around me. Sometimes right in my own backyard (the Bison at least.) I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and we have our own herd of about 400 animals that live within a few miles of my home.  I think about the fact that 150 years ago the Great Plains used to be grassland from horizon to horizon, home to millions of these magnificent wild creatures. It's not anymore. I think about the fact that almost an entire species was eradicated from this environment, along with the native populations that depended on this resource for just about everything in their lives. A symbiosis disrupted, an human rights travesty initiated. By our government, and the business interests that ran it.

This piece is for those who don't think about these things in their daily lives as I do. The skull form is interesting to look at, the hermit crab analogy is plain enough, and the suspended skull plate between the horns invites you to occupy the space below, maybe just for a bit of shade on a hot summer day, When you look up, however, the texture you're confronted with is that of a smooth, convoluted landscape shaped by the memory of the brain that used to live here, just as the inside of an actual skull is.

The message is clear...you're invited to think. Think about the Bison, think about the pickup truck masquerading as a farm-crustacean, think about absence. Perhaps thinking about these things will open the door to other thoughts. Perhaps about Why. My goal is just to start the process.

This piece is being built using the resources of my design and construction firm, HandsOn Design. You can find a ink to our website here:  https://www.hands-on-design.com.  We mainly provide architectural design services and custom cabinetry. This is our first large scale sculpture installation.

Phase One - 2018

This project has enough inherent flexibility in it that a few options are available for the finished Scope of Work based on how much funding is available and how much time needs to be spent on each item to be fabricated. We brought just the first step in the process to Blackrock City in 2018, largely due to to a serious shoulder injury suffered by me, the primary fabricator (torn rotator cuff.) I was sidelined for several months, and could only devote 3 weeks to the project before bringing it to the city, but brought it we did! With a small crew of 6 people, we transported the piece by U-Haul truck and trailer, and finished the canvas wrap on site over 4 days and unveiled it on the playa. We refer to that incarnation as a "full scale sketch model" of the finished piece. We secured permits for both a Mutant Vehicle and a Stationary Art Installation, and our goal was to use it as both.  Art Installation by day, Mutant Vehicle by night. Sadly, we never did quite get it running (though back home she ran like a champ) due to what we thought were carburetor problems. We even went as far as to pick up a brand new carburetor ( a Holley Street Warrior) in Sparks NV, but all she could do was sit out on the playa in her sedentary unfinished glory.

 

Below is a a gallery/ slideshow of last year's "full scale sketch model" construction process:

if you hover over each photo a little, some explanatory text will pop up.

IMG_1
IMG_1

First task, remove the truck bed.

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IMG_2
IMG_2

Next, elongate the frame by 30"

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P_127
P_127

And this is what we wound up with. A pretty good full scale sketch model after just 3 weeks and 4 days.

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IMG_1
IMG_1

First task, remove the truck bed.

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Phase Two - 2022

If the 2018 version of the piece was a "full scale sketch model," then the 2022 version represents the final scheme as depicted in the drawings: two oversized horns clad in rusty steel are already under construction, and the quickly slapped together rear seating is being replaced with a steel structure with European Beech instead of plywood. The base of the skull form has also been widened using telescoping extensions that project from the front of the truck cab to more closely resembles the shape of an actual bison skull, rather than a cow skull, which is narrower. The elaborately shaped horns have been reconfigured as well, and project forward as a bison's would. You can even occupy the space inside! The non-combustible steel cladding is what will allow flames to shoot from their tips.

Electric Slide 1
Electric Slide 1

A stationary stage enclosure patterned after a historic hay stacking structure called a Beaver Slide.

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Electric Slide 2
Electric Slide 2

The south facing backside of the enclosure is covered with a photovoltaic array.

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Electric Slide 3
Electric Slide 3

A flatbed utility trailer housing a whole-house battery, and covered with a sheet of electronic privacy glass acts as a stage platform.

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Electric Slide 1
Electric Slide 1

A stationary stage enclosure patterned after a historic hay stacking structure called a Beaver Slide.

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1/3

Phase 3, maybe 4. 

The Electric Slide

These drawings represent the further development of the performance stage idea. It is our intention to fund and construct this structure as well as to complete the entirety of the Skull on Wheels.

The design of the pavilion is derived from the iconic western hay stacking device known as the Beaver Slide - a wooden inclined plane structure made of logs and planks which features a moveable rake onto which loose hay is deposited, then pulled up the slope and dumped into a loose pile. We have appropriated the imagery of the Beaver Slide to create an angled roof structure used to harvest a different agricultural resource –the energy of the sun. The major portion of the sloped roof is blanketed by a south facing photovoltaic array, The area below the roof is intended for live performances which can use the electricity generated for lighting, sound amplification or kinetic sculpture. The energy generated is stored in a battery array located at the base of a portable stage fabricated from a utility trailer. Above this equipment another platform is constructed, which features a switchable privacy glass topped stage platform. The glass in the stage platform changes from opaque frosted glass to clear transparent glass when an electric current is applied. It is also lighted from below by a strip of LED lighting along the perimeter.

 

During the day, a small portion of the energy collected renders the stage platform transparent, exposing the battery array, controls, dormant lighting and switching mechanisms contained within the platform assembly for all to see. At night, when the photovoltaic cells are no longer collecting electricity, the current through the glass stops and it becomes opaque frosted glass. At this point the dormant lighting below the platform and above the battery array turns on and it becomes a light source in itself – a lighted rectangular platform that can act as a stage. Above this lighted rectangle hangs the Skull Plate Canopy, transferred from the Skull on Wheels.  The upper surface of this skull is rough canvas, but the underside is a much smoother and more reflective fabric shaped to mimic the folds of a brain, just as would be found on the underside of an actual skull. When one ascends the lighted platform in the evening, they occupy the physical space of the brain below the skull cap, whether it’s a group of performers or a solitary individual, and just perhaps put the message together.

 

Think about solar energy in the agricultural West.