I was a crew member on the Burninator Grid project at Burning Man 2009. This was the 3rd incarnation of the Burninator – a creation of Bill Codding. Essentially it was a field of 16 large fire cannons 20 meters apart that were triggered by a computer sequencer.
The Burninator had some unique safety features, including a solenoid fuel shut-off valve and bullet spliced wiring… so that any sort of mishaps, such as an art car backing into a tank, would immediately shut down the whole system.
The effect was a very loud, hot and intense experience. At more or less two hours past dark each night, we lit up our pilot lights and waited for an unsuspecting person to wonder into the grid. At which point we’d fire all the cannons and watch the person jump out of the skin. Of course the lucky winner got to climb the 4 foot platform in the center, select a sequence, and trigger the fire cannons.
We were happy to get many people up on stage to trigger the big booms: friends, kids, Burning Man staff, EMS workers, cops, people with big stupid grins on the faces, as well as a long line of dudes asking ‘how does it work?… how much pressure in the tanks? how big are the valves? etc.” To which my response was, ‘less talk, more rock. Push the button and make the crowd happy.”