ROSHANAI at Burning Man 2016. Photo by Meike Gugel

ROSHANAI muqarna gate. Photo by Arin Fishkin, 2016.

ROSHANAI at Burning Man 2016. Photo by Meike Gugel

ROSHANAI at Burning Man 2016. Photo by Meike Gugel

روشنايى - ROSHANAI



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.



ROSHANAI is a path of enlightenment, shifting colors in static form. Along this corridor, perspective changes and opposites unite. Islamic mathematical art is married to the great Western landscape, serenaded with the voice of your heart and the whisper of the Playa.


ROSHANAI comprises two double-walled panels that create a 108-ft long tunnel of light and sound with a 3-ft corridor. The sides of the hallway rise from 8-ft tall at the ends to 12-ft tall at the apex in the middle. Simultaneously, the panels sink into the ground to form a shallow valley. Fractal arrangements of Islamic geometric patterns are cut into the outside panels, lit from within to illuminate the patterns and cast fantastic night shadows.

ROSHANAI detail. Photo by Oren Berkowitz, 2016

The entrances are 16-ft tall gates inspired by the Great Mosque of Isfahan in Iran, pointed arches filled with sacred geometry. The inside walls are smooth and lit in solid colors by superbright LED spotlights embedded in the edges of the floor. ROSHANAI is lit in monochromatic hues that change every hour, with the color of the inside wall being complementary to the outside wall color.

Another feature of ROSHANAI is sound - 40 hand-made percussion instruments are placed between the walls and played via rotary solenoid valves. The instruments include Tabla drums, Sufi drums, wooden blocks, and bells. Some of the syncopation patterns were composed by famed Middle Eastern drummer Pezhham Akhvass. In the future we will incorporate proximity sensors in the gates and inside walls to create an interactive sound effect.

Sufi drum inside ROSHANAI. Photo by Oren Berkowitz, 2016

ROSHANAI is Farsi for “illuminate,” which describes the physical and philosophical aspects of this piece. As a member of an Iranian family, I was driven by recent racist and anti-Muslim sentiments to create appreciation for the beauty of the ancient and diverse culture of Islam. As an artist, I designed elements that symbolize unity and a form that would practically force a change in perspective. It is my great delight that ROSHANAI became known as the "hug tunnel" while it was at Burning Man, as the narrow corridor space forced people to be physically close and interact. ROSHANAI is a path of enlightenment and love, literally and conceptually.