artist: adam phelps

This project iterates on a series of interactive pieces I’ve produced over the last few years, including several propane flame effects designed to be fired at a rapid speed, a number of addressable high-powered lights, and interactive capacitive touched based controller.

At the center of the project is a compact flame effect, composed of a sculptural steel torch head which is on the end of a 6ft pipe elevating it above the ground. The torch head contains a continually running flame which acts as the ignition for the compressed propane effects. Four small 1lb accumulator tanks are connected to the torch head via slightly different lengths of pipe, and triggered via 12V solenoids. A minimum of two (preferably four) 25g propane tanks feed the effects via ½”ID propane hose.

The flame effects and any associated lighting is controlled by a hand-held controller with a number of metal strips that act as touch sensors. These touch sensors allow for a very reactive effect, with very low latency between touch and flame activation, and the multiple small accumulators allow for a max of around ~250 pulses per minute. There is a separate safety shutoffs (i.e. “deadman switch”) so that participants can control the effect. The fire controller connects to several additional electronics modules that run the flame effect and lighting.