Homouroboros in San Jose

From May 15 to June 15, 2008, The Black Rock Arts Foundation proudly collaborated with artist Peter Hudson to bring his masterwork Homouroboros to downtown San Jose, Ca, exhibited at the Discovery Meadow, near the Children’s Discovery Museum. BRAF is thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring this groundbreaking interactive work to the diverse community of San Jose at no cost to the residents.

Homouroboros by Peter Hudson
Discovery Meadow, San Jose, California
May 15, 2008 – June 15, 2008
Steel and fabric zoetrope 30’H x 24’W x 24’D

Homouroboros in San Jose, California. Photo by Melissa Alexander.

About the Project

Homouroboros first engaged an awestruck crowd at the Burning Man festival in 2007.  That September, Brian Doherty, author of “This is Burning Man” appeared in Wired, declaring Homouroboros the winner of the “Wow, did you see that?” survey…and it is no wonder. At 24 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter Homouroboros is one of the largest and most ambitious zoetropes ever created.

“I’ve been chronicling Burning Man for 12 years, and never have I seen a piece whose combination of interactivity and wonder both visual, technical, and psychological captured more people, and harder, than Homouroboros. Every other conversation that week at Burning Man ’07 would come around to: “….And have you seen those spinning monkeys?”
Brian Doherty, Author of “This is Burning Man”  his article ‘Homouroboros: Spinning Monkey Business at Burning Man’

This giant tree-like steel frame casts itself like a mushroom cloud over 18 life-sized monkeys that hang from its curved branches.  A truly participatory work, the artist’s design necessitates interaction to complete the creative vision.  Passers-by are invited to pound on six drums that, in turn, set the entire piece spinning.  Strobes by night, and liquid crystal shutter goggles by day, produce a mind trick called “persistence of vision” causing the discrete monkeys to appear as a single animated individual at 12 frames per second. The animation…? A serpent-like human hand feeding a monkey an apple!

Those behind the goggles of persistence-vision are left in wonder at this whimsical take on the mysteries and tensions of our creation myths, our insatiable appetite for human knowledge and some paradoxical outcomes of human enquiry.

Homouroboros in San Jose, California. Photo by Jonathan Harford

Public exhibition of the piece established new levels of interactivity for public art and made a bold statement about public trust and citizenship. San Jose was an ideal setting for the exhibition, offering a diverse audience and a culture that holds an affinity for technology-based art. Typically, a display this complex could only be found in a museum. But the San Jose community embraced the stewardship of this piece, despite its complexity.

Hudson’s achievement is an inspiration to us all and a lesson in determination. The Artist characterizes himself as a “blue collar” artist, and is quick to point out that a community of over 50 individuals helped him create Homouroboros. The exhibition of the piece also required many hands. Volunteers from the South Bay Burner community and extended community pitched in record numbers, filling over 180 docent shifts and helped with installation and deinstallation.

Detail of the ‘persistance of vision’ effect of Homouroboros. Photo by Cynthia Wood.


About the Artist

Raised in Ben Lomond, CA and based in San Francisco and Oakland, Peter Hudson channels his technical and set-design expertise, curiosity, and creative passion into life-size stroboscopic zoetropes.  Hudson has spent 22 years in the world of stage and set design, working with the San Francisco Opera, Ballet, TV and film. In 2000, Hudson began creating his own larger scale sculptural installations, debuting his first major installation, Playa Swimmers, at Burning Man that same year. In 2002, his work Possession garnered international attention when it was featured on the cover of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine.  Hudson’s work continues to evolve in Homouroboros, and his most recent 2008 installation Tantalus.  For more information about Peter Hudson, please visit www.hudzo.com.
More images of Hudson’s fantastic monkey motion can be found on Flickr.


The Black Rock Arts Foundation raised $40,000 to support the project.

Additional support for this project was provided by:

  • The James Irvine Foundation.
  • An Anonymous donor
  • Christopher Bently
  • Loren and Rachel Carpenter
  • Andrew Faulk
  • Robert Semper
  • Michael Shulte and Joanna Karger

Significant in-kind support was provided by:

  • Bruce Labadie
  • Debi Von Huen
  • Arthur Zwern.