Theophony is a Burning Man 2012 art installation from the team that brought you The Pillars of the Saints in 2011. Look for our story in Christianity Today July/August 2012 issue.
What it Be (Physical Description):
Theophony is a 10' tall optical theremin. It will be set in a post in the center of a 32' diameter round yurt-like structure. The walls of the yurt will be comprised of 22 4'x8' art murals expressing positive and negative images of human attempts to discover spirituality through a variety of life disciplines.
The outside of the theremin yurt will be off-set with a second outer skin of canvas walls creating a Dr. Seuss-like mis-shapen asymmetrical form.
At night the yurt will pulse with lights automated to the sounds of the theremin, and/or to the movements of the participants. Ambient and Chant music will be played to give something for the participant to interact with, and tune to, while playing the theremin.
Why We Be Doin' It (Philosophical Statement):
Theophony: the mighty interactive theremin project is a challenge to our common conceptions of connection to the spiritual realm and divinity. Some people believe we are connected to God simply by nature, others believe it is attainable by discipline, or hard work. This project challenges everyone's perception of connection to the Divine.
Tension and imbalance will be established from the approach to the project with the outside design of the yurt-like structure. The yurt will appear humorous, imbalanced and asymmetrical. This will be contrasted against the inside symmetrical design, and this contrast will be set against the participant's attempt to play the theremin in tune with simple chants and/or ambient music, thereby creating a playful sense that the person working the theremin is the one who is imbalanced, asymmetrical, and "out of tune."
The tension of spiritual connectedness/disconnectedness will be further exaggerated with 22 panels of artwork around the inside walls of the yurt. These will highlight both successful and failed illustrations of connection to divinity (both "holy" and "unholy" moments) in a variety of human experience categories such as:
Work/Success, Love /Relationships, Meditation/Prayer, Study/Intellect, Morality/Ethics, Surrender/Submission, Art/Music, Religious Institutions/Spiritual Leadership, Service/Good Deeds, Money/Giving, By Accident/Divine Inspiration
Connection to God is the high water mark for human experience, and when this connection is birthed in our actions it is a source of "abundant life." Theophony challenges us to consider whether it is what we do, or how we do what we do that creates this abundant life. Is it the perfection of our actions which causes us to experience a comfortable sense of unity to divinity, or are our fumbling, doubting attempts to experience God potentially the most fertile? the most holy?
Artsy Dudes and Dudettes (Theophony Team):
Phil Wyman is the lead artist. He is a pastor at The Gathering in Salem, MA. He is a musician, a social artist, and a guy who believes that a gentle God revolution can occur in carnival settings.
Steve Martin has worked for the last 25 years with companies like Boston Acoustics as an electronic engineer developing the stuff that brings us all quality sound. He is our designer for the optical proximity oscillator (thus we call it a "faux theremin").
Jim Hogue is an automations expert who worked on the water pumps at the Fukushima Power plant after the reactor blew up. He will be glowing in the dark, by providing lighting automation for our project.
Dennis Huxley and Scott Veatch are the builders and designers of the theremin yurt. Both carpenters and contractors and crazy dudes.
Hope Deifell has pulled together a list of artists from around the US who are contributing their efforts to create the artwork for the walls of theremin yurt. (list of artists coming soon)
A team of Dream Interpreters, and Prophetic artists are being led by Jeff Encourage and Danette Strandell. They will also help Burning Man participants create the Tibetan styled Prayer Flags which will be attached to the yurt through the week.
The Cost of Doin' It:
To design, build, ship the parts, and get our team of 15 people to Burning Man in order to share our interactive public spiritual art project will cost piles of that green paper stuff (money). Parts to build it will be about $10,000. Labor is free because we love doin' this stuff, and sharing our love for God with the world. Some of the most valuable components are being donated (sound system, programmable logic controllers....) Getting the pieces to Burning Man will cost about $5,000. So minimally we need about $15,000 not to go into debt while doing this.*
So we are hoping to exceed our goal this year. Join us in this gentle revolution!
*note - these costs do not include our own travel for the 15 members of the team who are covering their own way, because they believe in the project, and love doing this kind of crazy God stuff.
- (33 days)