Octopus Car (2002) — Mobile site-designed installation


The Octopus Car was an art car that performed a musical fire show. Each tentacle released quick bursts of flames in rapid sequence, which created a percussive beat. By adjusting the tempo and the pitch of the beat the operator became, essentially, a propane DJ, responding to the energy and enthusiasm of a quickly-gathering audience.

A unique aspect of this piece was the formation of the sound: each beat was created by an explosion of propane at the mouth of a steel pipe. By electronically specifying the amount of propane in each explosion, the musical controller created varying tones, accompanied by a fireball, which added a visceral visual appeal to the overall effect.

Designed by: Scott Kildall

Car painting and design: Rebecca Busse

Propane system, electronics controller, music design, tentacle structure work: Scott Kildall

Project manager, octopus body, tentactle finishing and design: Mindy Mortlock

Tentactle finishing and design: Lorena Perswain

Platform engineering and lighting: Bruce Wismer

Thanks to the following for help with building, transportation and technical advice: Tony Landucci, Sasha Magee, Chris the Mechanic, Nick Cronbach, Sarah Cheal, Chanel Mason, Brandon Wero, Aaron Bernstein, Heather McAuley, Christopher Schardt, Gary Goddard, Kora Vandervall, Chris Palmer, Chris Prosser, and Tate Bloom