The icosahedron is one of the 5 Platonic solids. Its 12 points are the corners of 3 intersecting Golden Rectangles. Thanks to Rüdiger Appel for the animation (left), and Gino DeGrandis for the photo (right).

Where Soma meets Psyche

The SACRED SPACES installation will be featured in these upcoming performances

Burning Man Project Description is here



See Sacred Spaces in action, with light array, chimes, and "wander through" life-sized icosahedrons.



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More about the Project:

PSYCHIC SPACES - Connecting your body with your mind!
Inhale space. Feel it permeate your tissues. Explore your inner landscapes.

PSYCHIC SPACES is an interactive array of 7 icosahedrons (platonic solids with 12 corners and 20 faces) built to human scale. Each icosahedron is rigged with lights and tiny speakers in each of its twelve corners. Visitors to the installation ("Player-Participants") will interact with the icosahedrons by entering inside them and moving through various bodily postures as coached by light and sound cues calling from each corner.

BODY-MIND CONNECTION -- Each bodily posture is not just a position or point in space. The physical process of embodying each posture evokes internal imagery with accompanying emotional or mental states. Player-Participants will be encouraged to sense into their imagery and explore the emotional or mental states that come up for them when rising, crouching, advancing, retreating, opening, closing, etc. I will present a PSYCHIC SPACE LABORATORY (a.k.a., workshop, to be listed in the what-where-when guide) in which I coach participants through an experience of their inner landscapes.

The anger shown in the image above was evoked by exploring the RightSide-Low corner of this Psychic Space. The performer (Psychic Spaces team leader Hilary Bryan) was playing with the physicality of sinking down with power and allowing that physical posture to evoke a mental state or imagery. In this moment embodying Right Side-Low revealed anger with a rich tapestry of accompanying mental images, e.g. "Who wants to fight?"

Performance Art plays an interesting and sometimes awkward role at Black Rock City. The Burning Man ethic is of active participation and yet when we give audience to performance we are in some sense passively, rather than actively participating in the event. PSYCHIC SPACES transcends this dissonance providing at once a venue for Performance Art as well as a "dance by numbers" experiential game. PSYCHIC SPACES is a perfect bridge between performance and visual art. Each visitor is instantly transformed into a performer or Player-Participant simply by entering the space and exploring its movement possibilities - an instant "dance-by-numbers." Think DANCE, DANCE, REVOLUTION. Player-Participants can choose their level of involvement. From outside the icosahedrons they can simply enjoy the harmonic sequence of lights and sound. From inside the icosahedrons they can actively explore imagery and emotional spaces evoked by embodying the various physical postures and moving through the scales. The boundary between visitor and performer disappears as each visitor participates in the ongoing performance while simultaneously enjoying a meaningful personal and communal experience.

COMMUNITY -- PSYCHIC SPACES encourages both individual and communal experience. The 7 icosahedrons of PSYCHIC SPACES will all be synchronized to light up together so that members of the Black Rock community can explore their individual worlds as well as their shared world. At least one of the icosahedrons will be large enough to accommodate 2-4 Player-Performers at a time. Player-Participants can thus explore their own individual psychic space within the context of community space.

SPACE HARMONY THEORY / HISTORY -- The specific sequences are called "movement scales" and are based on the groundbreaking work of Rudolf Laban (dancer, director, philosopher, movement theorist, and charismatic leader of The Art of Movement in the 1910s). Burning Man is the perfect place to present Laban's work as he himself was invited to be artist-in-residence at Ascona, a magnet for idealistic, sun-starved northerners for a century or more as they responded to the growing belief that a return to nature was the best remedy for the moral disintegration of Western capitalist society. Free-thinking and natural living included both intellectual and expressive rigor and nudism. Think groups of intellectual nudists leaping through mountain meadows.

I have been obsessed by SPACE HARMONY since I first discovered it as a graduate student of Laban Movement Analysis in 1998. Instead of a plastic Jesus or angel on my dashboard, I have an icosahedron I built out of toothpicks and rubber bands. I had the most profound religious experience of my adult life a few months ago in the middle of the night while sitting in the icosahedron prototype shown in this proposal. I came to the work seeking physical healing from chronic dance injuries; I discovered an intellectual framework for my life's passion, movement, with transformational power. The system provides a framework for understanding and integrating the immense complexity of our lives. I use the work as a basis for my stage performance. However, the impetus for PSYCHIC SPACES is not about my career as a choreographer or performer (although I do intend to perform in the installation). Rather I find the concepts so inspiring and thrilling that I feel driven to share them. And what better venue to present ideas about three-dimensional space than the infinitely blank and flat canvas of the Black Rock Desert!

STRUCTURE -- The prototype icosahedron shown here is made of 4' steel rods and stands 6.5' tall. It stands on its bottom horizontal rod and balances on the two "kickstands" at the bottom of the two vertical rods. Out on the playa, these two "kickstands" will be replaced by rebar uprights sunk into the ground and securely fastened to the vertical edges of the icosahedron. The bottom horizontal rod will be secured with U-shaped rebar staples. Note that the top and bottom horizontal edges form the short sides of a GOLDEN RECTANGLE into which the psychic player fits perfectly when standing with feet at the 2 bottom corners and hands at the 2 top corners. Think Leonardo da Vinci. Think PSYCHIC BALANCE.

The two front and back vertical rods form the 2 short sides of a second GOLDEN RECTANGLE, and the two side horizontal rods form the 2 short sides of a third GOLDEN RECTANGLE. These 3 golden rectangles intersect at the player/performer's physical center (hara, dan tien) and complete the 12 corners of the icosahedron. There is a profound feeling of peace and wholeness that comes from simply standing inside this harmonically balanced structure. Think PSYCHIC BLISS. The PSYCHIC SPACES will be built in a range of sizes to accomodate a range of humans. The largest will stand 8' 2" tall providing space for two or more psychic player/performers to investigate a shared PSYCHIC SPACE.

ILLUMINATION -- Some of the icosahedrons will be partially constructed of 4' tubes containing 180 LEDs that will change color and intensity as the sequence progresses. These will be highly visible from a distance at night, helping to draw participants to the Psychic Space. These tube lights are extremely expensive, yet we already have 16 of them available for the project at no cost. Here is a link to the Color Kinetics website, with information on the tubes:


  1. Visitor walks up and sees EL Wire Girl. Visitor is seduced by her beautiful harmonic movement as she zooms about inside her own personal blinking world.
  2. Visitor notices the 6 empty icosahedrons positioned around hers and blinking in harmonic synchrony and invitingly uninhabited. (See right.)
  3. Visitor enters an empty icosahedron and sees a PRESS HERE button in each corner of the icosahedron. Visitor presses button in corner of choice.
  4. When button is depressed, each icosahedron in the installation immediately illuminates its corresponding corner. When button is released the icosahedrons illuminate the next position in the sequence until that new corner's button is pressed and released. Pressing the button in each corner sends the visitor to the next position in the movement sequence (Scale) ultimately returning to the first button pressed. The visitor has now become a performer playing a game, communing with each corner of the geometric form and with various corners of their own psyche.

When no buttons are pressed for 20 seconds the installation reverts to its Demo Mode. EL Wire Girl resumes her faithful dance through the 12 positions and visitors are encouraged to join her at her pace. PSYCHIC CONTROL (Central Console) Player / Performers can take turns directing one another by pressing buttons on the Psychic Control panel located at the center of the installation (strategically placed so that it looks like EL Wire Girl herself reaches out to press a button on the console). Here players chose between Demo, Learn, or Improv Modes; select specific Movement Scales to explor
e; adjust the speed of each movement sequence; or design scales to suit their own movement preferences.

DAYTIME OPERATION -- Obviously EL wire and LEDs have limited impact under the blinding sun of the Black Rock Desert. During the day, Player/Performers will be pulled into the corners of their mind by speaker scalling to them: "Over here!" "Come on, baby!" "Here kitty, kitty, kitty!" Twelve different voices will each record a different call to attract the Player/performer. The icosahedrons will also be outfitted with tiny tuned bells at each corner so that visitors can play musical scales while simultaneously exploring movement scales.

Hilary Bryan (Team Lead) is fascinated by sacred geometry and will talk your ear off if you give her half a chance. Fortunately, you'll probably enjoy the experience and no doubt become inspired yourself. (Photo by Gino DeGrandis)

Carl Gruesz is an engineer and artist with extensive experience using LEDs and lasers in his work. His employer, Color Kinetics Inc. is a significant resource for surplus and discounted materials to be used in this project. Carl has successfully presented LED art projects at Burning Man in the past: Shadow Engine in 2001, and Obelisk III in the Observatory in 2004. Photographs of his artwork are available on the Burning Man website.

PSYCHIC SPACES is a family affair. In 2004 I brought my mother Karen Zethmayr (right) to Burning Man. She loved it. In 2005 she is returning to collaborate with me on PSYCHIC SPACES, taking charge of the PSYCHIC SPACES TOUR GUIDE, a.k.a. EL Wire Girl, the virtual hostess who demonstrates possible ways of embodying the space. Karen Zethmayr is a writer-illustrator with a background in music performance and storytelling. Some of her writing, sculpture, music, and animation is available on her website, Her diorama of the Psyche myth will be showcased at Center Camp.

Christopher Schardt, creator of Yantra, Burning Man 2003
Rita Venturini, Certified Movement Analyst, neuroscientist, co-founder of Sporosite (longtime BM themecamp)
Charlie Wilde, inventor & electrician

Together we will build 7-foot tall icosahedrons. Then we'll climb inside and play. Discover the secrets of Sacred Geometry and Space Harmony (Rudolf Laban).

...Increase your movement IQ.

...Let your body talk to your mind.

...Challenge your body in 3 dimensions.

...Get out of your head and into your body.

...Understand the meaning in your movement.

...Use 3D space to manage complexity in your life.

...Explore 3D space as a decision making model.