The Cosmic Carousel Returns to Burning Man, Fully Restored, with Lasers

Kinetic sculpture provokes wonderment and exhilaration—human interaction encouraged.

Online PR News – 07-August-2013 – San Francisco, Calif. – In a follow-up to its maiden voyage in 2012, the Cosmic Carousel is returning to Burning Man in 2013 with major lighting upgrades including laser effects. The Comic Carousel is an interactive kinetic sculpture made from mirror polished aluminum, mysteriously balanced atop a hemispheric aluminum fulcrum. Participation is encouraged as attendees must work together to climb aboard and spin the sculpture 360 degrees by applying rotational force to a central wheel. Artist Michael Walsh draws inspiration from modern sculpture, graffiti and architectural design, which make for the unique fusion that creates the aesthetic of the Cosmic Carousel. Inspired by the immense response from participants who experienced the Cosmic Carousel in 2012, Michael and a team of volunteers are restoring and upgrading the sculpture to bring it back to the playa for thousands more to enjoy.

“We were blown away by the countless stories and experiences we heard from people interacting with the sculpture,” said Michael Walsh. “I have never received so much positive feedback from anything I’ve done in my life, artistic or otherwise. The ability of this piece to elicit pure joy from thousands of people is my primary motivator for bringing the Cosmic Carousel back to the playa, as well as my inspiration to continue pursuing public engagement in my future work.”

At Burning Man 2012, attendee Marky Ray was returning to his camp at sunrise when he spotted the Cosmic Carousel shining in the distance. “The mirrors caught the light of the rising sun and we were just drawn to it. We weren’t sure what it was or how it worked, so we just jumped on and started riding it,” said Marky. “When I later found out that my friends knew the artist, I wanted to get involved. Now I’m part of the crew that is helping restore it and bring it back, and I’m excited to get to experience it again myself as well as share it with the masses.”

Large scale public art is always a collaborative effort among those who build it, finance it and experience it. The piece was built and is being restored by a group of dedicated, skilled volunteers who contribute their time both on and off the playa. The Cosmic Carousel has been financially supported by a collective funding effort between artists, crew and gracious donors.

It is currently in the process of a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter to supplement expenditures for the 2013 re-launch, which are divided among transport, restoration and upgrades. Transport logistics involve loading onto a rented 45’ flatbed tractor trailer driven round trip by a professional driver with all the applicable permits. Restoration work requires significant tooling and consumables for cleaning and polishing, re-working of key electrical components, as well as fabrication costs for structural repair. Most exciting will be the upgrades to the lighting, including the addition of laser effects, which require significant power infrastructure in addition to the laser and lights themselves, plus the electronics for controlling them. Visit the Cosmic Carousel Kickstarter page (linked in the contact information) to see videos of the sculpture and details on how to support the project.

The Cosmic Carousel’s repeat voyage wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Burning Man Art Department as well as the thousands of participants who encountered it and rallied for its return in 2013.

About the artist

Michael Walsh began his artistic career painting graffiti that people could interact with in their everyday urban environment. Evolving his graffiti designs into sculptural forms, Michael became further inspired by the interactivity and scale of the art he experienced at Burning Man. The Cosmic Carousel is Michael’s first large scale piece to synthesize kinetic sculpture with human interaction, once again bringing his work where the public can interact with it. Expanding his work in this direction, he is currently proposing several other interactive public installations.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, where he developed his distinctive graffiti style, Michael currently lives and works in Oakland, CA. He has exhibited throughout North America as well as in The Netherlands, and his work appears in multiple books including Graffiti World, by Nicholas Ganz, and History of American Graffiti, by Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelan. Recent installations include:

• “Kilowatt Gallery” Exhibited at The Fountain Art Fair Armory Week, New York, 2013
• “Interstellar Construction No. 5” – Currently on exhibit in Rupert Ravens Nexxt, New Jersey
• “Steel S Curve” – Currently on exhibit in the Cloverdale-Geyserville Sculpture Trail, California
• “The Gateway” – Permanently installed at 5149 and 5150 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


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