Whistler's kaleidoscope contribution to Burning Man 

MirrorrorriM is a Nine metre-long creation that has taken shape in the Callaghan Valley

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Burning ambition Lola Polnick, part of the MirrorrorriM construction team, tries out part of the kaleidoscope.
  • photo submitted
  • Burning ambition Lola Polnick, part of the MirrorrorriM construction team, tries out part of the kaleidoscope.

Andrew McAloon and the 20 other Whistler artists, carpenters and fabricators who are building an enormous nine-metre long kaleidoscope in the Callaghan Valley are fitting 1.8m x 2.4m mirrors into it this week.

It's a bit tricky.

"You wouldn't think it would be that hard, but putting the mirrors in was the most challenging part. Now I know there's a reason why carpenters don't work with circles much," McAloon laughs.

"We're using 60-degree angles inside an equilateral circle. Trying to figure out how to get it mounted to the walls when there is nothing to square off, it's been interesting. Plus, the mirrors are quite delicate."

The kaleidoscope is called "MirrorrorriM: Alchemy of Play" and its purpose, once finished, will be to enthrall and entertain revellers at Burning Man, the temporary desert city in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.

It will take three days to get MirrorrorriM to the arts festival site and four days to set it up. Burning Man runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

McAloon had previously been involved in the creation of the Burning Man sculpture "Embrace," which depicted an estranged man and woman sitting with their backs to each other, while their inner childs literally reach out for each other.

The theme for Burning Man 2016 is "Da Vinci's Workshop," which inspired the kaleidoscope plan.

MirrorrorriM is entirely human driven. Up to 50 people at a time will be able to enter the chamber of the kaleidoscope; there will also be laser lights shooting into it.

The people themselves will be reflected by the mirrors to create the kaleidoscope's colourful patterns instead of the usual beads or shapes found in much smaller kaleidoscopes.

Other people will turn the chambers with hand cranks, causing the mirrors to move and the patterns to shift.

Team MirrorrorriM is leaving for Nevada on Saturday, Aug. 20. It will be broken down into small pieces.

"I sent a letter to customs, telling them I was bringing an art piece across the border. They never actually sent anything back, so I researched the North American Free Trade Agreement. That's why everything we used to build it was new, they don't let old wood go across," McAloon says.

"I get it. It's a privilege to go across the border, not a right. It will come down to who the guy is who talks to us."

The 49th parallel aside, how does McAloon feel about the project that has taken up most of his summer?

"I'm super tired, but I feel good!" he laughs.

He believes MirrorrorriM has cost around $30,000 in materials alone. To that end, the builders have set up an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds.

Donations can be made at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mirrorrorrim-the-alchemy-of-play-art-community/x/14450374.

"Everyone donated their time; all the metal fabrication and welders, all the carpenters," McAloon says.

"I've accepted the fact that I'm basically paying for it. The mirrors alone were $9,500."

For more information, visit www.burningman.org or MirrorrorriM on Facebook.

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