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MSI – Eternal Flame of Stupidity - 2018
Working with The Ministry of Stupid Ideas (MSI), Portland's mischievous art collective, I have contributied to creating the Eternal Flame of Stupidity. This interactive fire installation consists of an eight-foot-tall tripod structure encased in laser-cut diamond plate steel, adorned with MSI iconography, and topped with a large, upward-facing dish fed with fuel to support an endlessly burning propane flame. At a safe distance of 20 feet from the tripod is a small button-topped kiosk supervised by a clownish MSI organization member. This MSI representative calls out to participants to consider the most stupid idea they can think of and release it into the universe for judgment by the eternal flame. When pressed, the button does a randomized electronic ‘coin toss’ and illuminates a light-filled tube acting like a fuse nearing the tripod. If the coin toss is a ‘win’, then the illuminated fuse continues to the tripod, where lighting effects inside the structure illuminate the interior and a 20-foot high-pressure ‘poof’ of propane is launched from the interior of the eternally burning flame. Although the functioning of the piece is all software encoded “smoke and mirrors”, participants, especially children, are absolutely delighted by the feeling that their ideas and actions give them agency over powerful forces in the real world. By asking for their most “stupid” ideas, we hope to break down the internalized self-doubt and fear that an idea one may have, especially in a child's mind, may be viewed as stupid by others. We aim to disarm that notion up front and with no uncertain terms.