The Heart Machine, 2011
A major, large-scale artwork built with a team of twenty for the 2010 Burning Man festival, then shown again at Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 art party. The Heart Machine is a listed honorarium project for 2010, receiving sponsorship for installation and fuel from the Burning Man organization.
The Heart Machine is a large sculpture of an anatomically correct heart disguising a very large flame effect. The “nerves” or hand sensors contain capacitance sensors which detect interaction by the audience. Interaction with individual sensors, all sensors, and sensors in specific patterns combined to trigger different patterns of flame being shot off. Should all twenty sensors be co-operatively activated at once, the machine would fire all eight solenoid effect heads at once, resulting in a MASSIVE amount of fire. Each individual solenoid would produce, when open, a 25-foot jet of fire.
Operating at full power, the machine is capable of outputting 4,000,000 btu/hr. To compare, the average output of a four-element gas stove operating at full is 60,000btu. You can heat a house with that. With ours, you can cause a major industrial incident. This is a major art project, produced right here in Toronto.
Christine Irving is the Heart Machine’s lead artist, via the Interactive Arts group (interactivearts.co), where I have been a member since 2010. I worked on a great deal of the metalwork for the project and helped to install and operate it on the playa in 2010, then was a major part of the maintenance crew for summer 2011 (artist profile on interactivearts.co). Let’s hear it for liquid propane.
More on the Heart Machine 2010:
Burning With Desire, by Jon Evans at the Walrus
Bury My Heart At Burning Man, the Globe and Mail
Heart Machine 2011: