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In Performance: Project 929 – Artist Draws 460 Mile Line for Energy Sustainability

Project 929: Mapping the Solar
Augmented Bike Ride as Performative Intervention

Photo by Laurie Macfee

Photo by Laurie Macfee

Last week, media artist/activist Joseph DeLappe physically and symbolically drew a line around the Nevada Test Site, Yucca Mountain, Nellis Air Force Range, and Area 51, creating a 460 mile long chalk drawing. Riding a long-tail bicycle, which he reconfigured with an armature to hold handmade chalk, solar panels, video cameras, and a GPS unit, DeLappe delineated a geographical area equal to the measurement of a solar farm the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated would be “more than enough to meet the country’s entire energy demand,” or 100 square miles.

In a durational/endurance performance, DeLappe rode the bike approximately 50 miles per day for 9 days in the desert above Las Vegas, NV, dragging the chalk behind him on the road and encircling the federally confiscated lands that are the largest peacetime military base in the world: area of 928 nuclear tests; testing of the U-2, stealth, and drone aircraft; and continued testing ground for bombs, training area for the US military, and site of weapon/technology and energy development. During the 460 mile ride, DeLappe had to stop to change chalk approximately every two miles, enduring 8-11 hour days on the bike in upwards of 95 F degree heat or 40 mph desert winds.

Conceptually, “Project 929: Mapping the Solar” is an ideational and activist exercise towards representing another possible choice we could make as a nation, physically re-imagining geographical space for energy sustainability. To map this desire – become a moving point, line of battle or communication, contour of an idea, measure or guide – was a driving principle.


The performance utilized mixed-reality (Blue Mars Lite), GPS technology, and, where feasible, live streaming video for real-time documentation. Videos of the live streaming from DeLappe’s bicycle and Blue Mars:

The project was also documented by artist and writer Laurie Macfee, creating an archive of photographs, and off-bike video. I. Examples can be found on the blog: A short video documentary can be found here:

In collaboration with Manifest AR, selected photographs will be used post-project to create a locative media tour using augmented reality to permanently document the ride. Anyone with a smart phone or tablet will be able to visualize gigantic solar farms spreading across the empty desert, tied to precise GPS located images of DeLappe on his ride.

Project Stats:
•460 miles•Average 51 miles per 9 days of riding
•246 pieces of chalk
•Average of 292 pedal strokes per mile = 134,320 pedal strokes for entire ride.
•7-8 hours per day on the bike.
•80-90 bottles of Gatorade (average eight to ten, 20 oz. bike bottles per day for 9 days)
•5 tubes of sunscreen
•One pair of padded bike shorts (washed daily)
•One very patient spouse, support vehicle driver and photographer

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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