Awe-inspiring art from Burning Man at S.F. Exploratorium: Monkey Zoetrope (video)

Editor’s note: We saw this exhibit this weekend when we visited the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

The Exploratorium, in collaboration with the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), will bring Homouroboros, large-scale interactive zoetrope by San Francisco artist Peter Hudson, to the public plaza at Pier 15 for a limited engagement.

At 24 feet tall, the work’s tree-like steel frame and mushroom-cloud-shaped canopy is an attention-getter. 18 human-sized monkeys dangle from its branches. By pounding on drums built into the base of the trunk, visitors cause the top of the tree to spin, turning the monkeys on their branches into a vision-bending arboreal escapade.

Strobe lights at night, and special goggles during the day, complete the Homouroboros experience – a phenomenon of the eye called “persistence of vision” that turns the 18 monkeys into a three-dimensional motion picture. The monkeys appear as a single, animated monkey, snatching an apple from the mouth of a serpent slithering down a branch. Close inspection reveals that the mouth of the serpent is really in the shape of a human hand.

“The phenomenon inherent in the piece is resonant with many exhibits we have in the museum,” says Melissa Alexander, Director of Public Programs at the Exploratorium.

“But one of the things that makes it so appealing is not visibly apparent, but no less inspiring. Peter [Hudson] is always quick to tell you he doesn’t do this by himself, it’s a collaborative effort. Perhaps that’s what excites us the most about Peter and his work – he attracts a wonderful army of creative volunteers who organize around him to bring each of his pieces to fruition. It’s another way to think about art, community and civic participation.”

Self-identified as a “blue-collar artist,” Hudson created Homouroboros with the help of more than 50 volunteers for Burning Man 2007. The Huffington Post called Homouroboros one of the 16 Awe-Inspiring Art Installations from Burning Man. The project received support from the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), which is also co-presenting the exhibition of Homouroboros at the Exploratorium.

“We are thrilled to support the exhibition of Peter Hudson’s wonderful and whimsical work in front of the Exploratorium,” says Tomas McCabe, Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. “It creates a great opportunity to extend the audience for the work, and to captivate the residents and tourists on San Francisco’s waterfront.”

About Peter Hudson
Peter Hudson is a San Francisco visual artist who channels his technical and set design experience, childlike curiosity, and creative passion into life-size stroboscopic zoetropes. In 2000, Peter debuted his first major installation, Playa Swimmers at Burning Man, the world-renowned weeklong annual art festival in the Nevada desert. 2002 ushered in the large scale, stroboscopic zoetropes for which Peter has become known. To date, Hudson has created 7 large-scale installations at Burning Man, some of which, including Homouroboros, have been exhibited in other civic spaces. To learn more about Hudson’s work go to

About Black Rock Arts Foundation
The Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) was founded by several of the partners who founded and produce Burning Man, an annual arts festival in the Nevada desert. At Burning Man, we observe how art brings people together, inspires participation and engenders meaningful connections between individuals. The art experienced at Burning Man invites individuals to interact with both the work itself and with their community at large. BRAF was established to bring this modality of creating and coexisting with art to the rest of the world, with the vision that community-driven, inclusive, and interactive art is vital to a thriving culture.

The foundation received its 501(c)3 status in November of 2001. Through Grants to Artists and Civic Arts programs, BRAF works with communities in the Bay Area and around the world to collaboratively produce innovative, relevant and pioneering works of public art that build community and empower individuals. The mission of the Black Rock Arts Foundation is to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation.

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-By Exploratorium

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