The Legend of the Fire Spirit

The Legend of the Fire Spirit is a public installation, created in collaboration with TwispWorks, to tell the story of the community in Twisp, WA.

Objective

The goal was to create an installation for the TwispWorks site that uses a contemporary legend to highlight the importance of fire in Twisp’s history. Our team was comprised of three Interaction Design students as well as an Architecture student, collaborating to both design and build a full scale model of our installation on site.

Description

The Legend of the Fire Spirit installation was designed and built for the culture and history of the Eastern Washington town Twisp. It builds on the regional tradition of myth and storytelling to explain the dynamic between people, forest, fire and how it evolved as time passed. The installation provides a cyclical experience, where the viewer first travels forward through the installation, seeing a myth about fire and the Methow Valley. The story is depicted through a series of projected icons upon the boards which create a perspective illusion, changing the experience depending on where the viewer stands.

This myth experience ends with a depiction of the devastating 1924 Great Fire, and marks the transformation of the installation experience as the viewer turns around and makes their return trip through the installment. The myth and icons are replaced with historic events that reflect the changing relationship between people and fire. Many of the boards have specific wildfires from the Methow Valley on the back of them. Additionally, quotes from our discussion and research explain the current ecological situation for managing forest fires where some are left to burn and some are contained or suppressed.

Process

Fabricating this installation required mock-ups on several scales. We produced 1/4” and 1/2”=1’0” models of the installation space, then moved on to full-scale models with cardboard. From there, siding was purchased from the Re-Store, and arranged with a grid to map out and document the position of the different boards, while the projection of icons was traced, taped, and spray painted. Stencils were laser cut to spray text onto the backs of the boards, and the hanging system with specific knots and fishing line was prototyped under the stairs of the Architecture building. Before we developed the physical installation, we worked for seven weeks developing the concepts and ideas, while planning the formal and spatial qualities.

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