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Burning Man Evolutionary & Revolutionary Art 2009

August 14, 2009

Why go to Burning Man?

2009 pavilion Burning Man  What’s the big deal? Isn’t it just a big rave? Isn’t just a bunch of naked high people? I am frequently asked these kinds of questions, and I answer:

I go for the mind-blowing art and the soul inspiring people who make it.

In the video above, a 5 minute time lapse of a day at BRC, you can see two examples of large scale playa art from last year’s Burning Man: a temple which burns and an art exhibit which does not.

This year, among a thousand or more, we can look forward to seeing these art installations:

The BikeOasis by Michael V. Yates where bicycles make their way across the playa and enter in to a circuit where their motion provides the energy to raise water into a central fountain. For more, contact phyxx (at) comcast (dot) net I can’t wait to try this one!

Ginga by Jiro Hirano which involves the Japanese summer “Obon” ritual welcoming our ancestors from the other world to share food and drink, a special event to say goodbye to the happiness and sadness of the past. Ginga consists of balloons filled with helium and battery-operated light bulbs. The helium lasts for about five hours while the battery dies in approximately seven. This natural occurrence is intentional as it represents the Shinto driven concept “Born to die”. Using traditional “Obon” methods, we welcome the dawn of the future in appreciation of the presence of this light as our guide.  For more, contact: vince (at) lotyscalyx (dot) com I have to go to this one just to check it out for Ginga Tao the poet Paul Squires!

The Mudpire Strikes Back by Graham McLeod and Max Poyton which is “essentially a 15 foot tall metal daddy long legs spider being over taken by a wave of human sized mudmen. There are about 15 mudmen coming out of the playa in various places and in varying levels of submersion. They are climbing atop one another in an effort to overwhelm the metal monstrosity that attempts to defend itself using it’s superior size and lasers. The spider is lit using a series of LEDs along its joints and on the ground surrounding it. Some of the mudmen appear to move, but one can’t be sure. Perhaps there are people in suits or, more likely, the sculpture is coming alive!” For more, contact: Gcloudmax (at) gmail (dot) com

Zoetrope “Evolution of Man by Steve Roper, a replication of the early Phenakistoscope Cinema, invented in 1834. The Origins of ‘Persistence of Vision’ or ‘Retention of Image’ – the phenomena which, it is often noted can be used to explain how motion pictures work and can be traced back to experiments by Newton. This is art also traces the evolution of Cinema. For more, contact: sgr_1 (at) hotmail (dot) com

To prepare for Burning Man, take a look at the art beforehand to plan your visit. There is so much out there it’s easy to miss a lot of great art unless you plan ahead. Here’s more links to various art projects as well as links to bloggers like me who have written about them. Check them out and see for yourself one of the big reasons why so many people make the trek out to the Black Rock Desert in summertime heat.

There’s three main ways that art at Burning Man is organized: art that’s been funded partly by BMan, art that’s way out on the playa, and art that’s in camp:

Honorarium Art:

Art in Center Camp Cafe:

Art in the Open Playa:


MOZE’S ART PREVIEW by long-time Burner and Burning Man artist John Mosbaugh (aka Moze, aka Mooseballs)

2009 Burning Man raygun art installationAffinity writes about the “Raygun Gothic Rocketship” construction:

Affinity covers Laura Kimpton’s “Who Gave Birth?” project:

Jess Hobbs interviews Burning Man artist Rox Scapini:


The Artery offers a variety of art tours:

Guided Art Tours
For those in need (e.g. you can’t get around to the artwork yourself on foot or by bike), there are art tours that depart on a bus daily from the Culture Labs, right next to the Artery.  These limited seats are first come, first served, and first preference given to those in need.  Tours are Tuesday – Friday at 11am.  Check in at the Artery for details and tour availability.

Self-Guided Paper Tours
The Artery also provides written tours that you can pick up at the Artery, and create your own tour!  Lead a tour with your friends … take ’em around in a pack of bikes, or do a tour with your Mutant Vehicle.

Audio Art Tours The Artery’s Jim Tierney (aka Anarchist Cowboy) and Evonne Heyning have once again produced an awesome audio art tour, featuring great behind-the-scenes information about many of the Honorarium art installations.  You can find the MP3s here, which you can download to your computer or iPod to bring with you:



If you haven’t registered your art yet, and you want to bring it to the playa, you still can!  Download and fill out the art registration PDF, and bring it with you to the Artery, found on the Esplanade & 6:30.  Here’s the PDF:



If you’d like to help out, these projects could use a financial boost.  Visit their websites to learn more about the projects and for donation links.

Fire of Fires – The Temple for Burning Man 2009

Raygun Gothic Rocketship
This full-scale 40′ tall retro-futuristic rocketship is being constructed by the crew that brought you the Steampunk Treehouse.

This 5′ gnome shoots a 70′ flame out of the top of its head.

I went to a fundraiser last May for this project and they’ve been dedicated about raising money to make it happen, and I can’t wait to se it on playa! Chimera Sententia is a sinuous, steel-based kinetic sculpture that expresses the process of evolution.

2009_soma art installation at Burning ManSoma

Messing with somebody else’s art just isn’t cool … unless of course they expressly imply that their piece is meant to be messed with, written on, etc.

Unless you made it, you don’t get to burn it. Don’t vandalize artwork. Be respectful.

If you see someone tagging, vandalizing, or climbing something fragile or unsound, or even stealing a piece of art, do your part and talk to them, or contact a Ranger if you’re not equipped to deal with it yourself. There’s plenty of room on the playa for everyone’s art and expression without us having to do it all over each others’ work.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2009 8:36 pm

    It’s good that there is these large scale event-art works and a venue for them and yes, I would love to see ginga! It is a brilliant concept, a physical manifestation of part of the idea of ‘ginga’. I hope there’s video.


  1. To Do at Burning Man: Get a DIY Tattoo? Yoga? Pimp Your Bike? and more « art predator

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