About this project
Aurora is an interactive Burning Man LED sculpture by Bay Area Artist Charles Gadeken. This enormous and brilliant work of art will live for one year in front of Palo Alto City Hall. Our installation date is November 16, 2013. We are raising money to make improvements, customize, weatherize, and install Aurora, as well as develop a mobile interface for visitors to interact with Aurora.
Aurora is a complex and robust piece of electronic art. She is 30 feet tall and has over 40,000 LEDS, and 4,200 shimmering, hand-beaten leaves. Originally made for Burning Man, now Aurora is coming to Palo Alto City Hall Plaza.
Palo Alto is reclaiming the old-time Town Square with high-tech flare. Aurora is a 21st Century “El Palo Alto” (the namesake tree for this city). She creates a place for people of all ages and all walks of life to gather, meet, talk and break down barriers through her unique combination of technology with sustainable energy and public art. The application of technology makes Aurora interactive and accessible. Anyone with a finger and web access can “paint” in light using Aurora as their canvas. High-efficiency LED lights powered by zero-emission electricity compel onlookers to consider their own energy and water consumption.
How Two Kids Brought Aurora to Palo Alto
Two Palo Alto kids, Sam and Julia, saw a photo of Aurora at Burning Man and decided it would be really cool to have Aurora in Palo Alto. They wanted to learn just what it takes to get a public art project from concept to achievement. They jumped in with both feet!
First, they got Palo Alto citizens to sign a petition for the project. Then they went to a meeting of the Palo Arts Commission. The Art Commission agreed to allow Sam and Julia to present the project at one of their public meetings. Sam and Julia stood up at the microphone in front of the dais before the Art Commissioners and staff and presented Aurora. The Palo Alto Art Commission unanimously approved Aurora pending fundraising and engineering validation. Sam observed shortly afterwards, “It took us one year and we got half a ‘Yes’!”
Undaunted, Sam and Julia gathered support throughout the Palo Alto community. They created a group of Aurora Kids - leaf makers and shakers, public speakers, and fundraisers - who made many of the leafs that you see on Aurora.
Now, the Aurora Kids have raised some of the money required, but not enough. Meanwhile, the rest of the departments at the City of Palo Alto have added their support by issuing building and planning permits, special event permits, traffic closure plans, engineering sign-offs, landscaping and electrical work, and much more.
The City of Palo Alto supports this project. The mayor of Palo Alto supports this Aurora. The Palo Alto Downtown Business Association supports this project. The Black Rock Arts Foundation supports this project. Now it is YOUR turn to support Aurora!
Aurora is in the home stretch. Sam, Julia and the Aurora Kids have now gained skills, experience and confidence that they can be part of the civic process. They have communicated personally with Larry Harvey and the Palo Alto Mayor. They have made leafs, recruited supporters, spoken before large groups, presented to businesses and learned how to engage in the political process for positive change.
Please consider supporting Sam, Julia and all the Aurora Kids so that they can fundraise the amount needed for installing and maintaining LED interactive art in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley.
About the Artist
Charles Gadeken makes monumental artwork that thus far has incorporated mixed metals, interactive and kinetic elements, and special effects such as fire, light, and electricity. His artistic practice seeks to realize the potential for unexpected magic and serendipity in everyday life. His work instills a sense of play in the environment, remaking the mundane into magical items existing as real life portals into our imaginations.
Aurora was made by Charles and a community of forty artists, engineers, metalworkers and volunteers.
Why you should support us
Aurora is a stunning and spectacular interactive LED installation that is just really really cool. Aurora will illuminate the area around City Hall, and invigorate the civic heart of Palo Alto.
Kickstarter Goals and Budget
Our kickstarter campaign is set to be funded at $35,000. However, our goal is actually $50,000. We will set Kickstarter "stretch" goals as we get closer. Anything raised beyond this will go toward enhancements to Aurora’s interactivity such as a touch-screen kiosk and upgrades to her LED’s and electronics and power grid.
Why do we need $50,000?
The biggest question we get tasked is why we need so much money to install a piece of art. The answer is: big art costs big money. Your money will go towards adapting the structure to the more demanding requirements for public display over a long period of time.
We are rebuilding from scratch the LED wiring and electronics to make them weatherproof and more robust so that she’ll operate continuously and unattended no matter what happens throughout the year. We are making Aurora interactive and aware of her surroundings through a mobile interface.
We are customizing her to fit inside the former fountain turned planter on the plaza and upgrading the structure to meet wind and seismic building codes. We are proud to say the engineering is complete and is approved by Palo Alto’s Building, Planning and Public Works Departments. This has been tough, we only make it look easy.
- Structural Rebuild (new i-beam base & certified welds): $10,000
Re-Painting and : $6,000 LED new wiring harness & connectors: $3,000
- Installation (5 person crew, 4 days each): $5,000
- Tear Down (In one year: 5 person crew, 4 days each): $5,000
- New computer brain, power supplies and waterproof enclosures: $4,000
- Landscaping and irrigation for native grasses around Aurora’s base: $3,000
- Payroll: $25,000
TOTAL: $55,000 (not including kickstarter costs)
Why hasn’t the City funded this project?
When the Palo Alto Arts Commission first approved this project, they made it clear that we would have to raise the money on our own. However, the entire City of Palo Alto has bent over backwards to help us. The City has removed many barriers to this installation that could have cost thousands of dollars. The City has waived all permit costs, upgraded the power at City Hall to support Aurora's needs and facilitated the permitting process.
We thank all City officials for their energy, commitment and dedication to getting this project to its November 16th install date. Without the support of the City we would not be able to commit to this install date.
Thank you for watching our kickstarter campaign. We think this is a great project for you to support. Help us bring Burning Man art to the best city in California. Help Sam, Julia and the Aurora Kids make an IMPACT in their city and make their dreams come true.
The Aurora Palo Alto Team
Risks and challenges
This project will be installed on November 16 2013 in Palo Alto with your help and support.
We already have secured the full backing of the City of Palo Alto and have had our permits for the installation and special events approved. The engineering is complete. Charlie and his crew are ready, willing and able to make this happen.
The only thing remaining is your financial support. Thank you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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