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Aurora is an interactive LED tree sculpture by Charles Gadeken. This tree will live for a year in front of Palo Alto City Hall.
Aurora is an interactive LED tree sculpture by Charles Gadeken. This tree will live for a year in front of Palo Alto City Hall.
445 backers pledged $36,155 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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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  Originally made for Burning Man, now Aurora is coming to Palo Alto City Hall Plaza.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.

Aurora at Burning Man (Photo by Camaelon)
Aurora at Burning Man (Photo by Camaelon)

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.

Julia making a leaf at The Maker Faire (photo by Jason Chinn)
Julia making a leaf at The Maker Faire (photo by Jason Chinn)

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.

Supporters

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. 

http://www.charlesgadeken.com

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.

Budget

  • 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.

Aurora at Dusk (photo by Dust to Ashes)
Aurora at Dusk (photo by Dust to Ashes)

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!

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.

With love, 

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.

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  1. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    A full-color photo card of Aurora signed by Charles Gadeken, the artist that created her. Additional signatures from Sam (11), Julia (9), and other Aurora Kids who convinced the Palo Alto Art Commission to give Aurora a home at City Hall are also available.

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    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    The gift of light… Own, gift or memorialize one of Aurora’s LED lights! Your name will be listed on Aurora’s website as a sponsor and you’ll be able to locate your light on the tree. Our goal is to make Aurora accessible to as many people as possible, both through her interactivity and her sponsorship levels. Sponsor lots of LED’s for your friends!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A full-color photo card of Aurora signed by Charles Gadeken, the artist that created her. Additional signatures from Sam (11), Julia (9), and other Aurora Kids who convinced the Palo Alto Art Commission to give Aurora a home at City Hall are also available.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Create a leaf for Aurora! Kids and adults will make a hand-beaten, unique copper leaf and put their initials on it. Learn some of the basics of art with metal. The leafs will be installed on Aurora and visible to everyone who visits. The name and location of your leaf will be listed on the Aurora website.

    To make a leaf, you must participate in one of the on-site workshops hosted during the unveiling event on Sat 11/16 from 3:00-5:00, or each afternoon during the week prior to unveiling. Tues 11/12, Wed 11/13, or Thurs 11/14 between 3:30-5:00. All workshops are at 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Own, Gift or Memorialize a leaf! Each of the leafs on Aurora is unique, just as you or someone special to you is unique. Leafs are cut from a sheet of pure copper and hand-beaten to shape. A member of the Aurora Crew will stamp the initials of your choice onto your leaf, and it will be installed on Aurora and visible to everyone who visits. The name and location of your leaf will be listed on the Aurora website.

    This is for people who want a leaf, but cannot participate in one of the leaf-making workshops.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Recognition on our website as part of the Aurora donor network and a full color postcard signed by artist Charles Gadeken and The Aurora Kids.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A laser-engraved Aurora dogtag, recognition on our website and a full color postcard signed by artist Charles Gadeken.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    Q&A with Charles Gadeken, Aurora's creator for up to 10 people. Charles, Sam and Julia and the Aurora team will show your group how Aurora is built and installed.

    20 min session and guided tour to be scheduled an afternoon of your choice during the installation on Tues 11/12, Wed 11/13, or Thurs 11/14 between 3:30-5:00 at 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 Five groups of 10.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    An Aurora T-Shirt that you can wear with pride!

    In addition, you will receive recognition on our website as part of the Aurora donor network, a full color signed postcard and one of our Aurora dog tags!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Be a VIP at the Unveiling Event! Participate in the main event with a special place just for VIPs. Includes light food and drinks and a Q&A with Charles Gadeken, Aurora's creator, as well as Sam, Julia and the Aurora Kids. City Officials will also be members of the VIP group. Saturday Nov 16th between 3:00-7:00 at 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A signed archival print of Aurora in her full LED beauty outside of Palo Alto City Hall, plus all the benefits of other donors: tshirt, dog tags, signed postcard and donor recognition on our website.

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    Pledge $275 or more About $275

    Claim your night to take over Aurora's LED programming and display the light sequences that you yourself design! Bring your friends and enjoy the lights as they illuminate downtown Palo Alto, or watch the live feed on your night from home!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Own, Gift or Memorialize an entire BRANCH with ~30 leafs! Each of the leafs on Aurora is unique, just as you or someone special to you is unique. Leafs are cut from a sheet of pure copper and hand-beaten to shape. A member of the Aurora Crew will stamp the initials of your choice onto each leaf on your branch, and it will be installed on Aurora and visible to everyone who visits. The name and location of your branch and leafs will be listed on the Aurora website

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

    Silver Sponsor!

    Your name added to Aurora Plaque in front of City Hall as a member of the Silver Sponsor Circle and a tour of the BoxShop and VIP dinner with the artist.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Water efficiency... Sponsor the transition to water-efficient native California grasses. The current plants are lovely, but are non-native and they use more than their share of water. We need about 70 five-gallon-sized containers of three varieties of native grasses. Sponsor them here, or contact us about helping us source them.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Gold Sponsor!

    Your name added to Aurora Plaque in front of City Hall as a member of the Gold Sponsor Circle.

    Plus, a custom work of art made by Charles Gadeken, BoxShop tour and VIP dinner with the artist and any other Aurora rewards of your choice.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Solar Sponsor!

    Sponsor Aurora's solar power plan and we will convert Aurora's power system from the City power grid to using green sustainable solar!

    Plus all other Aurora rewards of your choice.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Dreams. Sponsor DREAMS! Aurora creates a fairy tale environment where people are inspired to dream. She's located on Martin Luther King Plaza in front of City Hall in Palo Alto. Dr. King gave his "I Have A Dream..." speech 50 years ago.

    Aurora can be the place where people place their dreams, write them down, and give them life outside their own heads. This is a critical step toward making dreams come true. They'll do this either at a kiosk on the plaza, which will be built for this, or through the Aurora website, which will be redesigned to accommodate this.

    Contact us directly if you're interested in this.

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Funding period

- (23 days)