The Wind Playground: A Refreshing Installation

Setting up the Wind Playground model at the Everywhere Camp at Burning Man 2011

A good art installation can change someone’s life. It’s not every day that we’re confronted with something so moving, beautiful or creative that we must here-to-after view life in a different light. Yet this is the true power of art, and these are the sorts of projects that create the powerful artist-driven-atmosphere that is synonymous with Burner culture. What Maia Marinelli and her crew hope to accomplish with their Wind Playground is more than just an awe-inspiring spectacle. This interactive art installation hopes to help participants really learn about the power and impact that we have on the world, demonstrated here by the dynamic changes in the air currents made by our own body’s presence within the structure. Recycled wind-surfing mats help to create an enclosed environment that shapes a new perspective for anyone willing to enter.

Brooklyn studio under the storm of the Wind Playground model .... intense and is just the beginning
Making changes on the pattern for the full scale sculpture

The team of artists, architects and engineers that have come together, while small, is determined to make this vision a reality. Maia Marinelli, a diverse artist currently focusing on sculpture and installation art, has relocated to Hawaii from New York City in an effort to really get this project off the ground. Maia explains that the idea struck her a little over a year ago, when she was working on an installation for Figment on Governor’s Island. She saw that the architecture and the environment created really interesting and exciting wind channels.  Maia, being a life-long fan of sailing, realized that she could help others to see the beauty and the power of the winds that flow constantly; invisible but almost tangible. She originally came to Maui, HA for meditation and relaxation through wind and kite surfing but soon saw greater possibilities. Hawaii’s natural climate and established wind surfing community provided an excellent starting point for her wind project. Maia brought a prototype with her to the Everywhere Pavilion in 2011, her first year at Burning Man. Initially Maia, was turned off to the idea of Burning Man after being exposed to negative examples of the community. Realizing that she couldn’t possibly disagree with all 55,000 of us, she decided to try it for herself and even managed to snag a coveted Black Rock Art Foundation grant through the help of Figment director David Koren, no small feat for a first time burner.

Maia Marinelli

The Wind Playground art installation will allow participants to work with air and wind, learning to use their bodies to impact the movement and pressure of their environment.

By re-purposing old wind surfing fabric into a tension based structure that channels wind through itself, the Wind Playground will allow the people inside of it to see the visible impact of their bodies and motions on the very air currents themselves. By giving a frame of reference to the micro-system of air currents, people will be able to play with the wind in much the same way you can splash your friends while swimming in water. Held up through load bearing tension wires and pulleys and ready to withstand winds at the speed of 30 to 40 knotts, this mad scientist’s contraption is the product of several dedicated and talented people working diligently to see this lofty project through to fruition. The project, started in Brooklyn, with the help of creative fashion designer Diana Valhuerdi, was originally managed from different parts of the country but communication through different time zones proved to be more trouble than it was worth. The Wind Playground is now safely squared away in Hawaii with a dedicated and diverse team including, Pascal Bronnomann and Jake Miller from +H2O, founder of Maui Sails, Barry Spanier, French architect and boat designer Manuel Sauvage, (check out his newest project “SeaOrbiter”, a floating oceanographic laboratory set for launch in 2013),  founder and owner of Sailbags Maui, Kristine Hoffman, videographer and professional sponsored longboarder Michael Goericke ­­and, of course, media-hacker Maia Marinelli.

Diana Valhurdi
Manuel Sauvage
Barry Spanier

This community driven project is only possible due to the level of technical skill available to this team. With backgrounds in the fine arts, architecture and theatre and set design, as well as extensive sailing experience, this work of art and science is the product of an eclectic mixture of knowledge and elbow grease. These innovative techniques and ideas are contributing to one of the most intriguing art concepts I’ve heard or seen coming to the playa this year. While Maia herself is working almost completely full time on this project, her main focus has been rounding up resources and funding. Coordinating schedules and meetings with people all over the world and the steep learning curve of the art construction process can easily stymie many people, but Maia and her team are more than able to meet the pressure head on. They’ve recently received fourteen tickets for their crew which will definitely allow them to install the Wind Playground at Burning Man 2012, as long as they gain enough funding. Their new Kickstarter is reaching out to members of the burner and artistic community for support. This team of sailing enthusiasts would like you to help bring their water-sport inspired Wind Playground to the arid Black Rock Desert! The Wind Playground kickstarter is currently at 29% with 21 days left. If the group reaches their goal they will be able to produce a 49 x 49 foot wide by 15 foot tall Wind Playground, a huge breezy interactive wonderland for you to play with at BM 2012.

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