Soma translates the anatomy of neurons into metal, fire and light, magnifying the microscopic world to an epic scale. An elegant axon arch connects an earthbound neuron with its neighbor neuron, suspended overhead. Fire and light flow like electrochemical signals between the two neurons, while spinning balls of fire form the neuron’s nuclei. Slender dendrites reach into the sky and down to the earth, emitting constant flame and color changing light.
Soma is an artistic vision of two neurons communicating, manifested in stainless steel, on a monumental scale. Brightly colored interactive LEDs tip the dendrites undulating from two cell bodies, reaching out beyond 30’ in the air. The axon arches 20’ high between the two cells; standing beneath it, one is mesmerized by the patterns of energy flowing through a microscopic cellular system writ macro.
Soma is 25′ high and 50′ long. It is roughly a rectangular shape that occupies approximately 5,000 square feet including the fuel depot. It consumes up to 100 gallons of fuel per hour.
There are 35 Dendrites using approx 21′ of stainless steel tubing each. Overall, we used 735′ of stainless steel tubing to build all the dendrites.
Two dodecahedrons constructed from 24 stainless steel pentagons comprise the cell bodies of Soma, and enclose the nuclei. Each pentagon used about 10′ of stainless steel tubing. We used a total 240′ of stainless steel tubing to build the dodecahedrons.
There are flame effects running down the axon which simulate signal neurotransmission. Participants control the “neurotransmission” by pushing buttons. We build a “sparkle poof” which blows a cloud of metal dust into its own fire and appears glittery — this represents the release of neurotransmitters at the synapse. Each aerial dendrite and the axon burn with continuous flame effects.
Soma has more than 60 custom LED packages, each housed in a unique casting constructed of resin and aluminum that can each output 270 lumens of light, each individually controllable and capable of 16 million colors.
Burning Man. Nevada, 2009
Maker Faire, San Mateo, 2010
Electric Daisy Carnival, Los Angeles, 2010
Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, 2013
Pier 14, San Francisco CA, 2014 – 2016
Union Plaza, Vallejo CA, 2016 – 2018