Home > Art > Flatmo’s flaming octopus at Burning Man

Flatmo’s flaming octopus at Burning Man

Humboldt County artist Duane Flatmo built a flaming steampunk octopus called El Pulpo Mechanico for Burning Man 2011.

Original video on YouTube.

  1. The Big Picture
    September 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Just when you thought U.S. preoccupation with frivolity, and the world’s resources it consumes, couldn’t get any worse…

  2. Anonymous
    September 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    My thoughts exactly, Big Picture.

  3. Decline To State
    September 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I am constantly dazzled by Duane’s creativity! Simply amazing!

  4. suzy blah blah
    September 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Gosh, that’s sure a big whole lotta “dazzling creativity” LOL!

  5. skippy
    September 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    ”That octopus was definitely one of the stars of the Playa. You had to be there to grasp the full power of that fire-billowing metal contraption. When he blew fire out of his head and all arms at once, the cold desert night got HOT for probably 40-50 feet all around.”

    Duane’s toasty workmanship is absolutely stunning, as usual. What a gorgeous, terrifying beast. Straight out of Burning Man 2011, El Pulpo Mechanico is an octopus? A steampunk tank? A video game boss? It’s the avatar of flaming doom. A one-man-one-metal-cephalopod cacophony on a parade of steroids.

    “Creating a smaller scale model beforehand made building this so much easier,” Duane said.

    Both El Pulpo Mecanicos, the el poquito and the El Gigante versions, were built with the help of friends Steve Gellman and Jerry Kunkel, out of found and recycled material. The kinetic sculptures have moving arms, eyes and mouths, and the larger one shoots “revolving fire bursts like a machine gun” from the tentacle tips and head, Flatmo said.

    Our well known muralist, painter, sculptor and an all around wild and crazy guy, Duane uses found materials to construct his sculptures. He’s somehow managed to incorporate a good supply of reused oil drums, garbage cans, various pieces of ducting, the kitchen sink and God knows what else in this piece de pulpo resistance.

    Jerry Kunkel and Steve Gellman did the fire effects and electrical on the pulpo. The machine blows 10 foot flames out of each tentacle tip with the powerful concussion of a machine gun– then blows its top with a 30 foot flame skyward out the top of its head. Fuel? 200 gallons of propane per night.

    To note, Duane’s thoroughly enjoying his artistically carefree life these days. He spends his winters in La Peñita, Mexico, with his lovely partner and noted artist Micki Dyson-Flatmo; Jerry Kunkel is also a part time La Peñita resident and a partner in Micki and Duane’s Casa. Steve Gellman and his wife Sherri have their casa nearby in San Poncho and have been coming to Mexico’s Nayarit area for 15 years. This collaborative El Pulpo scheme was apparently hatched over Christmas dinner last year. No doubt some Tequila Sunrises fueled the Flatmo Crew’s fertile and fecund imaginations? Hmmm…

    Alas! Now for …

    Burning Man and its effect on global warming?

    Burning Man’s carbon dioxide footprint is primarily from transportation to the remote area. The CoolingMan organization estimated that the Burning Man event was responsible for the generation of 27,000 tons of carbon dioxide, with 87% being from transportation to and from the remote location. The Sierra Club has criticized Burning Man for the “hundreds of thousands” of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills as well as “ostentatious displays of flames and explosions.”

    In 2007, Burning Man’s “Green Man” theme received criticism for Crude Awakening, the 99-foot oil derrick that consumed 900 gallons of jet fuel and 2,000 gallons of liquid propane to blast a mushroom cloud 300 feet high into the sky.

    Well, all things considered, El Pulpo was a tamer creation than Crude Awakening. A lean, mean, not-so-green machine?

    But what an exhibition! Awesome, Duane. Those nutty Americans. What will they think of next?

    For the interested or unitiated, Duane’s website is here.</a

  6. September 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Arkley on Glass.

  7. Anonymous
    September 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Duane and his crew are amazing…they put 100% into every creation. Hope they all had fun, but am sure that is a given!

  8. rex1223
    September 7, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Duane is an impressive artist and his creativity is one to admire. however to jump on the burning man bad wagon, I tend to agree with many of the comments displayed earlier. I too feel that the waste of our limited natural resources for pure amusement is reflective of the anthropogenic downward Coriolis effect on our environment.

    I have wondered if it were too much of a stretch of the truth if many of the locals that go to the burning man venue, tend to cast stones from Cooperative and natural food parking lots when they venture back to their utopia. I guess if you practice what you preach 359 days of the year, you can still wear that hat.

  9. Back On Earth
    September 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “But what an exhibition! Awesome, Duane. Those nutty Americans. What will they think of next”?


    Not far from La Penita, Mexico, where Flatmo “Winters”, there are countless rural villages that could enjoy many months of cooking fuel on what the “El Pulpo-Puta” burned in one night. (A primary cause of deforestation around the world).

    Our frivolous waste of fossil fuels is the greatest inter-generational theft in human history. Scientists are claiming that most remaining oil reserves are needed to develop, mass-produce, distribute, and train millions of small communities in local alternative energy generation facilities…if any semblance of our current “civilization” is to continue.

    Utilize your own energy source next time “Flatmo-Angelo”.

    (If there’s a God in heaven).

  10. SNaFU
    September 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Al Gore must have been there with his cronies counting carbon footprints!

  11. Anonymous
    September 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Oh, please. People’s happiness is well worth the small amount of energy burned in the name of fun and creativity. Do you ride in an airplane to get anywhere? Just sayin’. Look at where you may use fuels and be realistic.

  12. rex1223
    September 8, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Hey 9:20pm, look behind you….you may find that point people have been laying at your feet.

  13. Anonymous
    September 8, 2011 at 8:43 am

    We all have to do what we think is right and strike a balance. Owning and using a computer and its nasty components is environmentally a choice as well.

  14. Back On Earth
    September 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    “People’s happiness is well worth the small amount of energy burned in the name of fun and creativity. Just sayin’. Look at where you may use fuels and be realistic”.

    There’s a big difference between striking a match to enjoy a cigarette, and the 2,000 pounds of fuel it takes one person to enjoy New Zealand, or for 4 people to ride around in “El-Poopo”.

    That our self-absorbed ignorance keeps us from finding equal joy and fun in combining El-Poopo’s immense hours, resources, individuals, technology and logistics to, instead, improve our lot, merely reinforces a wasteful culture’s frivolous illusion of “plenty for the deserving”.

    A carefully administered $2 hit of LSD would have provided many more hours of similar “fun”.

    El-Poopo reinforces another horrendously wrong and wasteful message for the young “participants” at Burning Man, or anywhere else.

  15. suzy blah blah
    September 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    El-Poopo reinforces another horrendously wrong and wasteful message for the young “participants” at Burning Man, or anywhere else.

    -but Back On, it’s art! And it’s sooooo stunning!!! It’s got smoke, moving parts, fire!!! It’s soooo cewl!!! And amazing. The awesome message for the young peeps is to have a celebration of creativity!!!!. Do you get it? Suzy loves creativity!
    What do you think a piece of art should be about? –changing peoples values and ways of thinking? Get with the program dude, and have some fun!!! While we’ve still got time.

  16. suzy B Antwrong
    September 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hey Suzy, yes art should not be restricted but if someone who says throwing 1 million cig butts on the ground is art, and another burns fuel wastefully does that mean that is sound art? If i were to label this art on a spectrum from green to red (green eco-groovy maaaaannnn and red being Arkley approved), I would label this as soft yellow. Get it? come on, its the same as the fu$kTa3DS that drive a Prius and grow indoors or outdoor with wasteful electricity and diesel generators etc….. one good doesn’t balance out a bad.

  17. suzy blah blah
    September 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Don’t you just love it when someone can’t recognize obvious sarcasm?

  18. Back On Earth
    September 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    “Creativity” that hastens the depletion of resources while poisoning our environment is a horrendous model for youths.

    El-Poopo will be around far beyond the victims and benefactors of “civilization’s” deluded addiction to extreme-consumption.

    Maybe Flatmo is actually trying to be heroic by burning as much fossil fuels as rapidly as possible…as the ONLY WAY to move to sustainable energy sources.

  19. Anonymous
    September 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    ever met Flatmo? he is a positive influence, the very definition of love and peace. if some of that spreads and rubs off around here, we are lucky. not concerned about some fuel and vapors. he spreads good things and a positive outlook.

  20. Anonymous
    September 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Kudos to Duane and his group. I agree with 7:10. He’s a positive person who gives back tom his community and spreads a lot of good will. I’m surprised by the negativity here.

  21. Back On Earth
    September 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    When in doubt, Americans play their “negativity” card.

    It is what it is….another wasteful and frivolous use of oil harvested at human, economic, environmental, and public subsidized costs that are routinely censored by mainstream media, in addition to the cost of illegal invasions, occupations and “collateral damage.”

    Flatmo’s personality is irrelevant.

    Individual drops of water never take responsibility for the flood.

  22. Migh Finances
    September 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    No way some liberal’s tin contraption gets less Iraqi children to the gallon than my Hummer.

  23. suzy B Antwrong
    September 9, 2011 at 10:11 am

    It was soooo incognito Suzy Columbo. Thanks for the defensive posturing, it was entertaining,

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