Is mud a happy medium?

Is mud a happy medium?

Postby Gearrob » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:10 pm

Hi there, happy burners (and the grumpy ones too),
I'm looking for advice on media for a reasonably scaled piece to bring to the playa this year. I'm not particularly interested in burning it but I want a to do a fair amount of the work on site.
What I want to do would be a, between 8-10 ft tall, sculpture of an ammonite whose tentacles make up an image of the man. I have a rough sketch if I can figure out how to post it. My thought at the moment is to make a steel armature(to be reassembled on site), cover in chicken wire or carpenters cloth and skin it with mud (haul my own water) from the playa. Based on Bob Stahl's page, the Burning Man Opera made their sets this way and "Other artists have succeeded in getting sanction from Burning Man for collecting mud for reasonably-sized sculptures, but excavating great quantities of the ancient playa is not really in keeping with the long-standing "Leave No Trace" policy and BLM regulations."
My question for experienced playa artists is whether you think this is a "reasonably-sized piece" to try to pursue or, if not, do you have any suggestions for alternative media that can be worked on site without bringing my whole art studio with me or without breaking the bank? Also, is there anyone I could contact to ask informally before making a formal proposal?
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Postby penguin » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:08 pm

Honestly I have no idea regarding the use of playa "mud". The first thing that popped into my head when you said alternative media was Elastomeric roof coating. Of course your skin would have to be a fine enough mesh to hold the coating, but it dries reasonably quickly, is designed to be baked by the sun, and from a MOOP standpoint it wouldn't turn to "dust" like a plaster or "mud" would. I know it comes in white and black, but I'm sure that the white could be tinted somehow. Cost isn't the cheapest, but it would really depend on the total surface area you'd need to cover.
http://www.playafire.com <- my BM resource links - got any I can add?
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Postby betrdanevr » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:23 pm

What about paper mache'?
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Postby Gearrob » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:44 pm

Thanks Penguin
I might have to look into that for other projects but it leaves the problem of having a big piece to haul home afterwards. I got a suggestion of paper mache, which would be flammable, but still a second choice for me for structural reasons. I did some more searching and found a couple of past pieces that were done in the way I've envisioned-
http://images.burningman.com/index.cgi?image=21305 2005
http://images.burningman.com/index.cgi?image=33605 2008
The unicorn from 2005 is especially close to what I have in mind.

betrdanevr- thanks for the sugestion, it came up as I was formulating this reply
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Postby betrdanevr » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:16 pm

Wow. Wonderful pieces in those links.

I guess you're right if you do eschew paper mache even if you set up in a safe place. There are mobile fire-emitting "things" that, beautiful as they are, if not safely operated and with respect to what's around them, may put your art (and people) in jeopardy.

Gpod luck with finding just the right material!

:)
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:44 am

I have seen Pepe's constructions burn, and I am amazed to know that they were built with supposed flame-proof materials such as mud and steel.

I'd have used polystyrene and magnesium - I mean burlap, 2x4's and hay bales of course.
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Postby matisse » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:44 pm

I also immediately thought of the unicorn from 2005.

I watched the artist work on that piece and she used a bucket of mud and her hands. The armature , I think, was expanded metal lath, such as is used for stucco. Here is an earth building using it on the roof is a manner very similar to what you want.

Image
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mud sculpture

Postby professorzed » Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:39 pm

Gearrob,

I have seen photographs of someone making mud sculptures from the playa dust using chicken wire as a form. The sculptures were quite impressive.
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Postby Gearrob » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:39 am

Hey thanks for the replies,
I'm still in the process of figuring out the logistics of bringing a piece to Burningman. This is my first time to burningman but I've been working as a full time sculptor for the last five years and can't imagine coming without bringing some sort of art piece to work on. After mining the board a bit more I've concluded that there are dunes of loose dust around so I wouldn't be looking at "excavating" the approximately 1/3 to 1/2 yard of playa dust I estimate it will take. I'm still trying to figure out how much water will be required. I hadn't thought about burlap as a substrate, I was thinking metal lath or chicken wire. I'm thinking I don't really want to burn it mostly because I'm at the edges of my personal resources (monetarily, physically and temporialy) to get it made at all without adding the stuff needed to burn it.
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Postby matisse » Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:25 pm

Gearrob wrote:... I'm still trying to figure out how much water will be required.


See if you can contact Mardi Storm: http://www.mardistorm.com/ (she made the unicorn mentioned above) and ask her about the water/dust ratio. When dry the dust is the consistency of talcum powder or cement. You won't need much water to turn it into mud.

Gearrob wrote: I hadn't thought about burlap as a substrate, I was thinking metal lath or chicken wire. I'm thinking I don't really want to burn it...

You do need to think about how to get it off the playa after the event.

By the way - here a photo of the artist and the unicorn ("Twilight Amina Rising") without any mud coating:
Image
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Postby Gearrob » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:57 pm

Matisse
Thanks for the link, I hadn't found her homepage but was thinking she'd be a good person to contact.
Gearrob wrote:
I hadn't thought about burlap as a substrate, I was thinking metal lath or chicken wire. I'm thinking I don't really want to burn it...

You do need to think about how to get it off the playa after the event.


Yeah, that's part of the plan. I'm planing to build it in my shop so it can be broken down to 7 pieces and bolted together on site and covered in mud. On Sunday I (and any crew I can find) will attack the mud with hammers and disasemble the structure and bring it back in the same trailer I'm bringing it in. I have access to a generator/gas powered stick welder but welding on site would just complicate teardown too much I think.
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low tech == more likely to succeed

Postby matisse » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:54 pm

Gearrob wrote:... I'm planning to build it in my shop so it can be broken down to 7 pieces and bolted together on site and covered in mud. On Sunday I (and any crew I can find) will attack the mud with hammers and dissemble the structure and bring it back in the same trailer I'm bringing it in.
That sounds like a very reasonable plan - low tech and doesn't require any special training for your crew. You could do that in a raging dust storm and it would still work.
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Postby General Disorder » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:54 pm

IS MUD A HAPPY MEDIUM??

:shock: depends on who is smearing it on :shock:
lets order up some disorder
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Postby ygmir » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:59 pm

I thought Harvey was a large?

or, is that "Harcourt Fenton"......(vague star trek reference)..........

spelling edit
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Postby AntiM » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:19 am

Not so obscure, I got it.
we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
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Postby ygmir » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:25 am

AntiM wrote:Not so obscure, I got it.

you're sci fi knowledge is legendary............
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