Gregg surprised us last week by having a 1:6 scale model cut and inviting us to his place for a build. We all knew we we’d be building a model eventually, but this was a fantastic surprise and my anticipation grew all week. When I arrived at his place, it was a feast for the eyes. Amazing wooden structures and geometric models surround you. Gregg Fleishman’s signature style was everywhere I looked. Having admired his stunning work on the Otic Oasis, the Pistil and the Temple of Whollyness, not to mention his furniture, I was thrilled to be standing there examining what looked to me like decades of work. There were a thousand shapes that wood never had a dream of becoming. It was like the Kama Sutra for Birch trees.
Before I knew it, the crew had arrived and we were punching pieces out of plywood sheets and removing the masking tape backing that holds all the pieces together to sand the rough edges. The model was cut with a MotionMaster 4×4 table with a 2mm bit from ultrathin 3 ply Finland Birch. The model is 1:6 scale so 2 inches = a foot. It looks like the full size dome will be about 21 feet across and measure over 15 feet tall. It wasn’t long before we all had our heads down sanding and the sounds of the friction rang about like so many DJ’s scratching on. That Burning Man feeling started to coarse. That familiar collaboration feeling started to creep on me. There’s a Burning Man feeling that involves collaboration, work, community and release that hits me every time I’m near people like this. My brain and veins come alive and I’m drunk with possibility.
Our project went from vaporware to hardware in just a couple of hours. Seeing a real dome in front of you that looks like it Tronned out of Autodesk and into the real physical world is exciting. I felt a little like Neo after swallowing the interlocking plywood pill. When I sat in front of the Temple of Whollyness, it looked precisely and exactly like the 3D rendering. That feels like a incredible triumph of math to me, one that’s way over my head, I’ll admit, but inspiring to an almost painful degree. There are realities; we can understand the mysteries of the univers. Standing in front of this 1:6 model of the observatory gave me that same feeling, but I feel connected to it in a more important way. Executing math sculptures with software and trees is the same magic early astronomers wielded when they predicted eclipses and equinoxes. I don’t know if the Aztecs had a profound sense of meaning, philosophy, time and space intertwined when they built their pyramids, but that’s what I’m feeling now. We may not have the longevity of some of those stone structures, but in the impermanent impression we leave, there is an unbreakable thread of truth and numbers. I’m not even sure what it is or even what it looks like, but I know it’s real.
We finished up the model while we all discussed and commented and we took a short time to enjoy the sight and exchange some “holy shit that’s cool”s before we sauntered off down a Culver City street to some great margaritas.
Gregg’s making some changes to the dome and we’re starting to raise some money. Work on our Kickstarter campaign has begun, so look out for that soon and we’ve arranged a night with a historic telescope at the Mt. Wilson Observatory. It filled up so fast, we’ll likely reserve another night. We’ll be using the 60” telescope that Edwin Hubble used to discover redshift and the Big Bang to view whatever we like. You can stand in the same place as Einstein and used the same equipment as Stephen Hawking did. If you’re interested in joining us next time at Mt. Wilson, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Facebook group and you can donate to the project anytime by clicking the Support Our Work link or send your donation via payPal to DonationsBRO@gmail.com.
I really want to thank Gregg Fleishman, Tupa, Luba, Keith Split, Captain Everything, Krista An, Matt and Charley for this amazing model.
Thanks for your time and support. – Major Tom