The Mathematician's Garden is an interactive community garden of metal and glass and light. Smell one flower and the ivy might glow green with envy; blow on a pinwheel dandelion and a sunflower might pulse in response; sit on a park bench and see how the surrounding vegetation reacts. Many of the plants respond to well-defined mathematical patterns for visitors to puzzle out. The piece suggests how the complex mathematics that might underlie our daily interactions with the world and each other can result in organic and beautiful relationships.
The Garden is being planted and nurtured by members of the greater Burner community who often had no prior experience making art; we encourage participation by anyone interested in the project, we teach them how to use the tools, and we set them loose on the Garden. We've been teaching people how to use welders, plasma cutters, grinders, acetylene torches, and other tools so they can make their flowers. What is amazing about this process, aside from diverging so completely from the typical one-vision-many-hands model, is that our Gardeners, newly equipped with the skills to work in the medium, then create truly incredible flowers. This kind of collaboration, with the Garden as a platform for making art, has been enthralling to witness.
When approaching the Garden at night, visitors see a glowing garden surrounding a central tree. The Garden consists of two C-shaped elevated platforms arcing away from each other and separated to create an internal space with two entrances. A ring of path lights illuminates the base of the Garden and guides visitors to the two entrances. A metal tree sits in the center with benches facing it on either side; the tree, which doubles as a burn barrel, glows through cracks in its bark. Once inside, visitors are surrounded by plants with colorful lights diffused through various materials and reflecting off of glass. They hear soothing ambient sounds. The Garden is a refuge and meditative space on the playa.
In order to make this project happen, we've had to buy tools (e.g., a plasma cutter) and materials (e.g., a generator and 6000 LEDs), rent the workspace (hooray for NIMBY!), pay for transporting the Garden to Burning Man and back, and various other expenses. We salvaged most of the metal from previous Burning Man projects and borrowed tools where we could, but making a project of this scale is expensive. We need your help.
We have the materials. We have the tools. We have the expertise. We have enthusiastic and talented Gardeners. We have a plan and have already made incredible progress (check out our webpage!). What we need is funding. Please give what you can. :-)
*Thank you to Clody Cates for the beautiful photograph!
- (20 days)