Dave Rice 1:52 p.m., May 23
Flutter Tunnel: Local Innovators Turn Burning Man Art Installation Into Philanthropy Project
A nationwide 12-person group with members in San Diego has 5 days left to raise over $2,000 for a Burning Man art/philanthropy project called Flutter Tunnel - a 1,320 foot-long kinetically-powered sculpture made of 100 arches that will be illuminated at night by solar flashlights.
“We have one goal:” writes local member Bryan Carpenter. “Send 200 solar powered flashlights to Sierra Leone to distribute to rural school children. Flutter Tunnel is the impetus behind this idea. Our approach takes into account the temporary nature of art at Burning Man. After Flutter Tunnel is dismantled, all the steel is returned, while the lights are distributed to students who will truly benefit from them.”
This year’s project follows a 2009 precursor which, in partnership with Books for Africa and Schools for Salone, shipped 200 solar flashlights to Maforeka, Sierra Leone on a shipping container of books.
“Our group of twelve friends consists of solar energy experts, installation and media artists, biotech research scientists, and non-profit managers,” Carpenter writes via e-mail. “We are as diverse as the general population of Burning Man.”
Having evolved from the 2009 model, this year's setup will be kinetic and interactive.
“It is being engineered to flutter back and forth, similar to the movement exhibited by a slinky,” Carpenter writes. “It also may incorporate sound or other sensory experiences within the space.”
Emphasizing the global thinking behind Flutter Tunnel, Carpenter says that the project has a relevance that goes beyond the week-long annual arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
“Considering how many temporary events and activities take place that utilize materials to create experiences, Flutter Tunnel provides an example of how to think systemically about flows of material. It is inspired by upcycling and creating value from materials that would otherwise be disposed of. As resources become scarce, this type of thinking will become as important as the ability to design new objects or environments.”
What challenges is the Flutter Tunnel team facing so far?
“In Africa, and with many charitable activities, it is useful to consider the adage, ‘It's better to teach people to fish rather than simply giving them fish.’ For Flutter Tunnel this is a challenge and an opportunity to consider how our donation of lights could be designed as a social enterprise or pilot project to establish a commercial partner in Sierra Leone. Why? If it is possible to provide light and catalyze a new micro-business opportunity, this is much more effective for trying to scale the introduction of solar lighting to replace kerosene lanterns.”
Donations can be made on Flutter Tunnel’s Kickstarter page.
The group must meet their goal of $6,000 by Friday afternoon, or else the $3,820 already pledged by 82 backers will be refunded.
Incentives to pledge include upcycled bicycle streamers, postcards, crystals, essential oils, one-of-a-kind playa footprint poems, solar panels, photo prints, and various upcycled fire tools.