Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dirigible Airship

Chris Burden's "Ode to Santos Dumont" Performance Sculpture

Early in the evening on Saturday, Larry and I attended a members preview of the late Chris Burden work, "Ode to Santos Dumont" at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This is called a "performance sculpture." A description from LACMA's website: The highly balanced and refined mechanism—modeled after Santos-Dumont’s 1901 dirigible that flew around the Eiffel Tower—achieves indoor flight in 15-minute intervals throughout the day. An examination of weight and gravity, the work is powered by a quarter-scale version of a 1903 De Dion gasoline motor handcrafted by machinist and inventor John Biggs. Ode to Santos Dumont offers a palpable and emotional expression of the density of air, gravity, and energy required to move about in our earthly environment.
The Cradle and Motor for the Dirigible #erectorset 
The Tiny Propeller of the Craft

The crowds were sparse when we arrived to the Resnick Pavilion where the aircraft is housed. Eventually, people arrived. Promptly at 6pm the handlers walked out to the center of the apparatus and cranked up the little motor. The airship rose up about six feet and started it's short, circular journey around its fenced-in arena. The dirigible is tethered to the floor by wires. The motor sounds like my Mom's old Kenmore sewing machine.
The Sculpture Performs!

It was fun seeing the airship fly around.  I sooooo wanted to see it to fly out the doors, over Levitated Mass (aka the Rock) and up over The May Company building. Now THAT would have been spectacular!
To see the flight, click here

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At 5:48 PM PDT, Blogger jamie jamison said...

Chris was good people. I was fortunate to work with him at UCLA back in the 80's.

At 7:44 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for the comment, Jamie. Yes, it was very sad to lose Chris Burden. He was brilliant.


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