Burden Water Wheel
Chris Burden's ambitious vision, the Burden Water Wheel, harks back to his earlier work, The Big Wheel (1979), connecting the strands of his artistic journey. This colossal sculpture, illuminated by the aesthetic of the past with its iron rods, wood backings, and brick support shaft, would harness an electric motor. Positioned within a shallow water trough, its paddles would create a mesmerizing splash zone, fostering a microclimate ideal for the growth of mosses and water-loving plants. This fusion of artistry and kinetics embodies Burden's representation of power.
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This envisioned masterpiece sought to recreate a colossal 19th-century waterwheel, originally engineered by Scottish immigrant Henry Burden in Troy, New York, in 1851. With a vast diameter of 62 feet and a width of 22 feet, it was a marvel of its time and possibly even the inspiration for the iconic Ferris Wheel.
Burden's sculpture would mirror the original's grandeur in scale and appearance, meticulously crafted from modern materials such as stainless or painted galvanized steel. Unlike its historical counterpart, the Burden Water Wheel was not intended for practical power generation; instead, it was designed as an artistic endeavor.
Although the project faced logistical challenges, including cost increases and environmental considerations, its engineering viability leaves open the possibility of its realization in the future. Until then, the ideas it embodies are immortalized as a collectible digital artwork.