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Selected as an 2013 Burning Man Honorarium project, the Penrose Triangle is impossible geometry made possible (and climbable).
Selected as an 2013 Burning Man Honorarium project, the Penrose Triangle is impossible geometry made possible (and climbable).
98 backers pledged $6,786 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

The Penrose Triangle at Burning Man 2013 project video thumbnail
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$6,786

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The Penrose Triangle—Now for climbing purposes.
The Penrose Triangle—Now for climbing purposes.

How have we made the impossible possible? We've twisted the arms out of plane and created a sculpture both easy and fun to climb. And with interesting sight lines viewable from all across the playa, those mind-bending photo ops are just waiting to be to shown off back home.

As a 2013 Burning Man Honorarium installation, we want to show the world the impossible is possible. From afar, it is an illusion. When one stumbles upon it, it is 17-foot climbable steel sculpture evoking the childlike wonderment discovered in the playgrounds of our past. Some will see a complex jungle gym. Others will regard it as a postmodern reimagining of a conventional truss structure.

The Penrose Triangle by day, flanked by excited Burners who love to climb things.
The Penrose Triangle by day, flanked by excited Burners who love to climb things.

At night, the illusion deepens as LEDs color the mind and confuse our judgments, a cerebral carnival begging for further exploration. Much like Black Rock City itself, the Penrose Triangle celebrates both visceral immediacy, and our own personal transformations that occur when we choose to examine and embrace what we see from more than one angle.

And for those who may be curious, what is the Penrose Triangle?

Discovered by mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose who promoted it as "impossibility in its purest form," the Penrose Triangle is a 3D illusion offering an escape from rigidity within straight lines.

It’s an aesthetic obsession found in the works of MC Escher, countless tattoos, and between the covers of the tattered notebooks—the simple doodles of teenagers aching to stay awake during 5th period.

It’s an escape from our everyday existence, challenging the ways we examine and navigate our own space, and define what is real and what may not be so real.

What You Get

We wanted to showcase our team and their skills in the rewards presented to our donors. Since this entire design has come to life through CAD, 3D printing, laser and plasma cutting, we want to offer (mostly) unique rewards representative of the team's vision and our talents. 

We're in the process of producing these, and we will post photos of all rewards as soon as we can. 

Brushed Stainless Steel Pendant
Brushed Stainless Steel Pendant
Alumide Pendant
Alumide Pendant
8" 3D Printed Model of the Penrose Triangle
8" 3D Printed Model of the Penrose Triangle
Limited Replica: Laser-cut Penrose Triangle
Limited Replica: Laser-cut Penrose Triangle

A Little Of What We've Been Working On

We'll be adding regular updates both here and on our blog, but here are a few scenes from the mayhem. 

We have our first erection!

We've begun assembling arms of the Penrose Triangle.
We've begun assembling arms of the Penrose Triangle.
Hooch Blake plasma-cuts flanges with a smile.
Hooch Blake plasma-cuts flanges with a smile.

Risks and challenges

We're extremely humbled to have been chosen as a Burning Man 2013 Honorarium Project. This has afforded us the ability to bring our vision to life.

This is a complex fabrication project; as you can see from our blog, a lot of thought has gone into how to construct and assemble it before it needs to go on a truck to the desert. Blake Courter and Blake Courtney have years of experience in design and fabrication, and have been bringing large structures to Burning Man every year since 2008. This piece presents new challenges to everyone involved, but we are fully confident we've assembled the best team to support it.

But in order to fully realize the ambition of the Penrose Triangle, we need your help. Every contribution to this project goes towards transportation from Boston to Black Rock City and powering the structure.

Should we exceed our goal, this money will go towards powering The Penrose Triangle using solar grids—expanding our vision of interactive public art into solar art.

We are documenting the entire process on our website and will be providing regular updates to Kickstarter, giving you a glimpse into all of our blood, sweat, and tears.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    We love you! Now go check out your name on our website. Looks pretty, doesn't it?

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Penrose Triangle on a sticker. Two (2) of them. You can stick it on your canteen that you will misplace on load-out, but that's okay, because you'll have an extra. You will also be thanked on our website.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Four (4) professionally-shot 5"x7" photographs of the Penrose Triangle from four different angles. And yes, you will also receive the sticker and website accolades.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A screenprinted Penrose Triangle t-shirt + the sticker and thank you on our website. You will also receive two (2) 5"x7" photos (Shipped post-Burn in October.)

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    LIMITED REWARD: Our friends behind "Spark: A Burning Man Story" have graciously donated DVDs of the acclaimed documentary to our project. You will receive the DVD and two (2) stickers and two (2) photos.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A beautiful, 3D-printed Alumide Penrose Triangle pendant (1" wide). Chain included. You will also receive a thank you and a sticker.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Versatility at its finest. This plasma-cut model of the Penrose Triangle is perfect for any wall needing angular goodness. It may be used as a trivet, keeping hot serving dishes off the table. Also included: Two (2) photos, the sticker, and website accolades.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    As seen in the video—your very own 3D-printed Penrose Triangle, in exact 25.4:1 scale. (200mm or about 8" tall, appropriately sized for desktops, mantles, and coffee tables—the perfect conversational piece). You shall also receive the photos, sticker and website shoutout.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A beautiful, 3D-printed brushed stainless steel Penrose Triangle pendant (1" wide). Chain included. You will also receive a thank you, 2 stickers, and 2 photos.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Limited replica of the original Penrose Triangle sculpture, signed by the artsts, in laser-cut PETG 420mm (16.5") tall. The Blakes met each other after Blake Courter created this sculpture as an exercise in differential geometry, and Blake Courtney, upon seeing it, declared they should build a giant version for Burning Man. Delivered flat-packed; requires some assembly—instructions included. (You will also receive a gracious thank you, a few stickers, 4 photos, and a t-shirt.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)