category: Art Lab

Burn : Buffelgrass fire

Posted 14 December 2010 by Vidar Lerum

Vidar Lerum

What stands out in my memory from the first half of the ArtLab week is the talk about the Buffelgrass. We learned that Buffelgrass burns at very high temperatures and that the fire can reach a peak temperature of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.

I contacted a colleague at UIUC and learned that carbon steel starts to loose its structural strength at 900 degrees F. The goal of my experiment is to heighten the awareness of the Buffelgrass invasion by visualizing its properties and opts strategy in taking over the Sonoran Desert. The experiment will be documented by time step photography and video.

An abstract representation of a saguaro cactus with one arm is built using thin steel string of the same type use in gabions. A carpet of Buffelgrass will be creeping in from the side until it covers the ground around the Saguaro. Then it creeps up and stuffs the wire mesh from the inside. A fire starts on the ground and will move up into the saguaro. The wire mesh will loose its strength and the cactus collapses. This experiment is on the dark side. Its focus is on the destructive nature of the Buffelgrass invasion.

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