Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Black Rock City  

Sundial 439
State/Province:  Nevada Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Artwork Condition:  Destroyed
Latitude:   40° 45' N Longitude:   119° 21' W
Location:
  • Burning Man Festival (1999) in the middle of the Black Rock Desert Playa
 
Description:
  • The Pyrolarium was a sundial designed for the Burning Man Festival (1999) to shoot exploding mortars into the sky at each hour of the day. The structure was 12 feet in diameter and nearly 18 feet high. On an upper platform out of the reach of people were a series of tubes loaded with black powder. Around the perimeter of the platform were a set of Fresnel lenses, igniting them in succession throughout the day. The last mortar ignited at sunset and the Pryolarium was incinerated, as is the custom of all artwork displayed at the Burning Man Festival.

    "The lenses were one foot square, [set every 15 degrees on the perimeter] and perhaps the greatest example of overkill that I have created in my life - a square foot of desert solar energy is a rather dangerous thing. At one point, I accidentally set fire to my rental truck by a lens that was leaning at just the right angle. Then, later that afternoon, I was lecturing to a group of people about the Pyrolarium's theory and construction. They didn't give me the least bit of perimeter as I explained that the sculpture before them was charged with a total of two pounds of black powder. They did, however, give me a wide berth when I accidentally set fire to my shirt while I was demonstrating the aiming mechanism of the Fresnel lens?"
 
General Information:
  • Owner: Victor-charles Scafati
  • Designer: Victor-charles Scafati
  • Builder: Victor-charles Scafati and Ann Liss
  • Construction Date: Destroyed 1999
 
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