META: ... or maybe I'm just hungry

Looking forward I see vastly different versions of 2019 based on the outcome of this grant process.

For the past few days I’ve been very hyped about it, forceful and forward thinking, planning to shape my life around this massive (for me) undertaking. I’ve been making plans, solving problems, imagining worst-case scenarios and laying the mental groundwork for back-up ideas so that setbacks don’t involve wholesale emotional collapse and defeat.

I’ve prepared myself for the possibility that I won’t be able to rely on skilled help for much of the fabrication and will do a lot of the menial metalwork myself. I’ve accepted that my illustration skills are not fantastic and started training my hands and eyes to be up to the task of painting 56 huge images on my own.

But as my hype grows, as my vision grows, as my grasp of the undertaking grows, my budget estimation doth also expand. Each time I clarify a detail, it clarifies at least one expense, and probably reveals one or two others. And then as those details become “locked in”, adjacent pieces come into focus, and I have to google how much those are going to cost me. And then I have more of the project mapped out and explain it to someone new and they ask intelligent questions and I explain other parts of the installation, and remember something else I need to add to my budget.

I’m not working with real money yet.

I’ve spent $20 here and there for test supplies. Brad has placed a couple orders for parts in the same range, and I’ve worked with similar quantities of dollars before, and even ten times as much, but now I’m looking at spreadsheets that have line items nearly 100 times those $20 personal investments. With hypothetical money.

But it’s more than hypothetical money, it’s potential money. The org deemed my initial application worthy of a more detailed look! There is a non-zero chance that I have a shot of being funded. Or maybe I had a non-zero chance at my initial price point, but my new, detailed, insightful math is less funder-friendly.

There’s a place in my mind where I’m confident I’m overreaching, that what I offer is no longer worth what I ask. When I visit that part of my mind, that potential future, there’s a sense of relief. Not in the sense that I was afraid of success and it’s safer and more comfortable to be rejected. I’m not the kid in class who’s unprepared and afraid to be called on to perform.

I’m proud of the work that I’m doing. I’m confident in my vision and feel I can rise to the challenge of taking it on. The feeling of potential relief at being passed over comes from the same place where I don’t care so much about dating anymore. I want romance, but I’m not going to compromise my values to get it. In both cases, I know who I am, and I’m speaking my truth, and being as realistic as possible about what I’m capable of and what I’m worth.

On small projects I have a habit of undervaluing my time and abilities in order to get the gig. So there’s a temptation to do it on a larger scale, too. I’m tempted to lowball my costs, price the scrap i hope I can get instead of the material I can find and rely on.

I want this grant. I want it bad. I might not get it. Part of my brain wants to close the door on this project after my application is submitted and live as though it’s a done deal, never to be. Another part wants to keep pushing as far as I can, planning and preparing so I don’t feel behind the ball if I get the green light at the end of February. Keep sourcing, quoting, networking, gathering resources.

Either future is possible. Either future is okay.

I am amused how on-theme this post is.

VIZ: Mural Content

Seven units, fourteen doors, twenty eight sides, fifty-six images.

I haven’t decided on a philosophy or theme for this part yet. I have some ideas for tone and function, but maybe too many ideas. Which ones will I be able to pull enough content from? Which will most properly express my intent (even to myself)?

Is it important to have full consistency through the entire piece, or can it be a mix of applications of the theme? Do I want the front and back of a door to be thematically linked? Do I want each unit to be thematically cohesive? Do I want a particular word or element (ie: anger) to show up in every unit? Do I want the central unit to be special?' When I’m working with feelings, how do I want to depict them? How literal/obvious do I want to be? How much do I want to use text?

I may end up having to make 6 different versions of the whole set and pick one of them. Or start out with that intent and say “good enough” after one. ':P

I want each panel to fit the message “not quite (not) opposites”.

An excerpt from the Notes file about this on my phone:

slow pace/regressive
too soon/never
too late/too much

META: Rising concern

Mostly because it’s the worry I woke up with.

First thing today, I was thinking about wind storms.

No matter how frictionless the junction between the orbit door and its track is, it will still be bearing the brunt of the weight, so the unit will act top heavy.

Powerful winds pushing on Jupiter will threaten to topple it, torquing the bridge. I may be thinking too rigidly (thanks to flat diagrams), but until i started writing this out, the thought was really stressful. Remembering that the door will rotate, not be a fixed wind-catcher helps.

Winds will play into the construction of the base, too. Surface level spokes will be easier to put up, (and allow off-playa display) but offer less stability.

I wonder if the tracks will be modular, or if I can make extra bases for dry land display. One for pre-playa testing, of course, but more for, say, decompression. Mmmm

Also: See that reference to Jupiter? I’ve started naming parts of the sculpture after things in the solar system (but don’t see how to add images on mobile). I’ve tried to use logical terminology in my descriptions, but this is more like having shorthand names for BEQs, except BEQs sometimes involve the interaction between bodies.

Still disappointed I can’t upload photos from the app.

Edited to add MEQ#1: how to add mild (2” max?) durable texture to the surface of the doors. Without too much weight


ORG: Initial Thoughts For Grant App

I was informed about passing to round 2 of the application process, then I went to Tahoe for three days, and now I’m back and it’s time to dig in.

I did a lot of hand-waving about the engineering of this sculpture, despite building both physical and digital models (see the video below) for phase 1.

Project Narrative

This section is carried forward from the first round, and can be seen in the post before this one.

Safety & Engineering

I believe that the base design will be innately difficult to climb/ride. The tops of the doors will be 10-11 feet off the ground, and there won’t be a lot to hold on to or step on below that. Still, I do want the doors to each be able to support an extra 200# on their outside edges.

With a wood-and-rigid-foam construction (to be tested… soon?), each door will weigh ~180#. This might increase with trim/relief texture. Knob weight expected to be negligible.

Big Engineering Questions (BEQs) in next post.

Lighting plan

Lighting is one of the big effects! Also something I’d like to test before submitting the full proposal.

My initial plan involved buying LED shop lights and tinted acrylic (or gels), but one of my climbing buddies works as a lighting engineer and designer, and he brought up renting concert lighting might be an affordable option. Cool? (How) would that impact post-playa installs?

Placement Outside BRC?

The idea of taking FoD to other events touches on BEQ #4: how to support the pieces. Does the center pole sink into the ground (how much?), or is there a flat plate supporting it?


The good news is I’ve considered basically everything listed in the budget template, the bad news is some of my answers were baseless guesswork.


Other bad news, I don’t know what I’m worth on the crowdfunding market, but I suspect it’s not the handful of thousands I’d need. What to do if I can’t achieve full funding is the kind of worry that has the potential to keep me up at night.

Build Location

?? I’d be comfortable relocating for pre-build, and think I’d be okay for crew in the Bay, less so in Reno.


Interested hands are easy to find, but reliable? I don’t expect anything to be difficult on a technical level, but lots of moving heavy things, and lots of painting.

Project Timeline

Mural painting will be the most time consuming part of the process. I feel creatively possessive of this part, but I’m sure that once I have the designs ready, I’ll be happier to delegate/share. This is also the last step, so I’d need to determine a reasonable number of hours-per-mural and work backward from there.

ORG: Project Narrative (LOI extract)

How do you define a space made of transitions? This is a variant on the themes of doors to nowhere and displaced doorways. Fourteen oversized doors (seven pairs) swing freely and orbit each other. Each side is painted with nearly-conflicting messages of dichotomies and dualities.


Passive physical interaction: Wander through a fluctuating space with very few fully fixed elements. There are no rooms other than what is suggested by the implied location of the doors. The doors are big. Do you feel small?

Active physical interaction: Swing the doors around their axes, orient the pole of the orbiting door.

Psychological interaction: The Forest of Decisions is constructed to land in a space between oracle and self-exploration. Each door has multiple aspects that change based on how a visitor approaches and what the lighting conditions are. The symbols are chosen to raise questions about the false premise of duality and highlight the benefit of additional perspectives.


I am aiming to create a large-scale meditation on the decision-making process and provide visitors a sense of wonder, a toy for mental wandering, and a tool for processing their experiences on the playa. The ability to move and reposition the doors provides a sense of agency even when situations tower over us.


Doors and doorways are often used to symbolize decisions and turning points, but in truth our decisions are usually fluid, non-binary, and can often be unmade. While each door in this piece has two sides, and each mural has two messages, the environment in which they are experienced is more complicated. These doors don’t go to linear places, the decisions they offer are context-dependent, and generally just lead to more questions.

The list of messages for this piece is still in progress (a total of 56 ideas will be expressed), but will break away from typical dualisms to examine concepts and forces that exist together and act on each other but are neither synonyms or opposites, such as humility and anger, love and fear, beginning and hesitating, patience and chaos.