Vortical

A central tower suspends a variety of climbing routes that spiral 30 feet into the air. At the top, a Da Vincian armored tank extends 'cannons' above the climbers, rotating under power of a VAWT, and 'firing' via flame poofers or LEDs and speakers. Successful ascents invoke extra cannon fire.

A side view of Vortical

A tall central tower with arms that radiate from the top will support a Da Vincian tank above and a spiral vortex of suspended climbing routes below. At the top, a central platform allows climbers to socialize and choose new routes for their journey down. Difficulty for the climbers will range from a wide set of well protected stairs for the faint of heart, to a single rope, suspended at only a few points along its spiral traverse. The shape of the routes, narrowing to a convergence at the bottom, will mean that at the beginning, the difficult routes will be somewhat protected by the easier routes until the spirals expand and the routes get farther apart. Routes will include as much challenge, complexity, and artistry as we can afford. Think about playground monkey bars and add an incline and a twist.

Da Vinci's sketch of our tank is included in the attached pictures as well as a schematic and the inspiration for our wind turbine. His design looks like a traditional flying saucer UFO, with cannons that extend radially in all directions. A switch at the top of the stairs will evoke a few fireballs, but every press will inactivate the switch for 20 or 30 seconds. The switch at the top of the hardest route will unleash a fiery volley from every cannon. When the wind is blowing and the turbine is spinning, the flame display is enhanced along with the difficulty. When the wind doesn't spin the tank, a set of gears at the top allows the participants to spin it manually.

The art installation integrates the wind and the acrobatic efforts of the participants into a whirling Da Vincian flame display. Admission is paid by the strength of your climbing and the limits of your daring. Some will be entranced by the flames and the feat of elegant engineering, while others will be focused on making creative use of a very unique climbing environment. Friends will compete for bragging rights and strangers will inspire each other to try something challenging. A daring individual will be elected by their peers to ascend and ignite.

Near the end of the week, the tower will be burned, and with it all proof of the challenges, conquered or not. But the memories of the journey, the fear overcome, and the feats of friends and strangers alike, will remain.

A top view of Vortical

Our piece is a physical metaphor for choosing a path. Participants are confronted with a clear view of the obstacles ahead of them and enticed by the rewards to be gained. Does one choose the safe and easy road, well trodden and crowded by throngs of the less adventurous? Does one go for the narrow, difficult, lonely route and if one gets stuck is there a way to change ones mind? Da Vinci was an engineer, a student of nature and an artist. The aesthetic of our piece is a spiral toward the heavens, an elegant vortex. At the top, climbers of all routes reach a central platform, where they can reflect upon their journey and observe the journeys of their companions and the rest of Black Rock City, as well as plan their descent. Above them sits one of Da Vinci's famous illustrations, animated by the wind blasting across the playa and belching flame at the control of successful climbers.

The spinning tank above periodically fires its cannons, both to congratulate the climbers of the tower and to entice new climbers to venture over. The timing of cannon fire can be synchronized with the rotation of the tank so that from afar, the bursts are static, but upon closer inspection the illusion is revealed. The rotation is enabled by a trifecta: nature, humanity, and engineering.

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