The Uira Engine (2009)


The Uira Engine exists at the boundary of art a science. It is simultaneously a sculpture and experiment, an exploration of science fiction and fact. It is a kinetic high-voltage sculpture of a rocketship engine that serves an experimental platform for a novel high-voltage phenomenon.

Sculpturally, The Uira Engine is the fantastical plasma drive of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, a 40’ tall, aluminum and steel sculpture of a retro futuristic rocketship (currently installed on San Francisco Pier 14). Installed beneath the clear floor of the rockets engine room The Uira Engine slowly turned and crackled with lightning beneath visitor’s feet.

Scientifically, it serves as an experimental platform for studying a high voltage phenomenon called a dielectric barrier discharge. Within the vacuum of each glass tube are two high voltage electrodes separated by thin, highly electrically restive material. Applying high voltage to the electrodes creates a plasma discharge, similar to lightning within each tube.


Mad Science at The Sonoma County Museum

Art and Science lecture and performance at The Sonoma County Museum

With the Raygun Gothic Rocketship

Design, Experimentation and Fabrication

Hand Sketches
Plasma Tube Placement Concepts
CAD Build Drawings
Plasma Tube Experiments:


The Uira Engine at The Sonoma County Museum:

Interview with Make


Plasma Experiments:

Fabrication Videos: