Monday, March 18, 2013

Zonotopia and the Quasicrystalline Conjunction

It is both strange and wonderful 
that what is so limited and so small, 
the tiled interior of a zonohedron, can be unleashed 
to become an infinite quasicrystalline space filling.
-Russell Towle

We are happy as peaches to announce that Burning Man 2013 has awarded Zonotopia Honorarium for our Art proposal 

Zonotopia and the Quasicrystalline Conjunction

Zonotopia and the What say what?  You ask...

Zonotopia and the Quasicrystalline Conjunction....

To explain, let's back up and talk a little about this years Burning Man theme "Cargo Cult"

Every year Burning Man has a theme to guide, focus or in some fashion lead artists to creatively express themselves in a coherent fashion that will give the entire event a certain continuity. Artists are not obliged to follow the theme but it is encouraged. Usually the theme is grand and sweeping in its scope. This year's theme is a bit of an outlier in that regard.  Cargo Cult is a somewhat bizarre cultural phenomenon that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with other technologically advanced cultures. Namely those societies of the Pacific Islands after World War II where cult leaders led efforts to bring back the material wealth of the Americans and Japanese. Not having a proper context to understand the source of the material goods nor the means of manufacturing they thought to built crude airplanes, runways and even control towers out of local materials in an effort to re-attract the cargo they now missed.

A Cargo Cult 'airplane'
A real airplane

It's an interesting theme and much else has been said about it here...Cargo Cult Theme

The wooden Cargo Cult airplane is simultaneously impressive and absurd. It certainly took skill and effort to realize the structure and no doubt when it was finished it's builders were happy and proud . They likely looked forward to the return of the other airplanes with great excitement and anticipation. Time goes by, even generations pass and the myth of the return of the plane persists along with the totem facsimiles. 
And thus the cult is born.

It's interesting to conjecture what would happen if the airplane did come back because of the totems. What if it did actually work? What if a Boeing 747 landed right there next to those wooden planes? The peoples of the cult would no doubt be shocked, amazed and no doubt, super excited.

Imagine the peoples of the cult touched the exterior of the plane. The would feel the otherworldly smooth metallic skin. Imagine they climbed aboard and explored the many mysterious and amazing wonders contained within. What would they make of all of that? What would they understand? No matter how long they explored, examined and thought about what they saw would they have more answers or questions? 
I think the latter.

The Zomes of Zonotopia

The Zomes of Zonotopia

For four years now we've brought the Zomes of Zonotopia to the playa. These simple wooden pavilions evoke a nostalgia for the primordial together with a meditated vision of the future; a vision of an architecture and technology perhaps long forgotten; an echo of another world.  As Zonotopia has continued to grow and blossom it does seem to be calling out. The Zomes seem to be simultaneously there and yet not as if fading in and out of existence from another dimension....and that is not far from the truth.

Zomes are Zonohedral Domes and the fact that they resemble jewels is no coincidence. The crystalline natural beauty of many gems and stones is a direct, one and the same, result of the properties of matter and space itself. There are many types of crystals and they are of the inanimate world some of the most interesting, beautiful and useful artifacts known to exist. The space filling structures upon which crystals align are some of the same structures that guide the design and formation of the Zomes. They are crystals realized in wood with human hands, sweat, persistence and love along with a dash of thinking. 

The Miracula Mirabilis Crystallizing

The Zomes of Zonotopia are much like those Cargo Cult airplanes built in the Pacific Islands. They are built calling out to a higher aspiration of something that could be, something that should be. Something that were it to enter our dimension would befuddle and amaze us as much as the Boeing 747 would the peoples of the Cargo Cult.

And if so then, what would happen if the 'real Zome' returned. What would that be like? Would it be like a spaceship landing on earth? Or would it be like an inter-dimensional crystalline craft which waxes then wanes in place as it passes through our world? When we touch it what will we feel? When we enter it what will we see? What will we understand? Would we ever be the same from the experience?

So buckle your britches and prepare to be perplexed. The Zomes of Zonotopia these years gone by have aligned their geometries in a perfect conjunction of form into a seed which is precipitating a hyper-dimensional chain reaction that cannot be stopped. 

The Quasicrystalline Zome is coming!

-Rob Bell

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