Aperion, Pneuma, Nous, Spike

This is a group of very unique smaller sculptures by Charles Gadeken, where he did the conceptualization and lead fabrication and I did the design and building of all of mechanical and electronic systems involved.

Aperion is a 12 foot tall plant with three tesla coils coming out of flowers at the top. The tesla coils are solid state and each one is capable of reproducing any audio input by modulating the arc. We can connect microphones, theremins, keyboards, or even smartphones to the tesla coils, giving participants at festivals a variety of ways of interacting with the sculpture.

Spike has two counter rotating spinning shapes on fire inside of it to create a very dynamic look as the fire dances inside, filling the volume of the sculpture. The mechanical design was challenging due to having fairly limited space for the linkage, motor, rotary fuel unions, and bearings, but a unique and reliable solution was created using CNC cut plates and a flexible chain linkage moving over a curved guide.

Nous is a 9' tall graceful plant with 9 fire-shooting flowers. The flames can either be controlled by audience members or by a computerized controller. The controller allows an on-the-fly programming of rythyms, with a wide variety of variables to play around and create different patterns with. There is also a random mode, and there will soon be a MIDI interface to tie this and other sculptures in with performances.

Pneuma has a spinning cone of fire as well as a fire vortex element coming from the center. The fuel flow rates and motor speed can be controlled independently, creating a great variety of dynamic effects. There is also fire in the lower leaves. Although it was the first of Charles’ pieces that I worked on, it was the most challenging of all from a design standpoint. The rotating cone has fuel lines going to both the inside and outside of it, and the tight diameter of the stem made it impossible to fit the motor, drive chains, and a standard rotary union together. After a good deal of thought and CAD modeling, I arrived at a the solution involving a custom made rotary union integrated with the support shaft.