December 20th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

The Combinatorial Whimsy of Interactive Art

December 20th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Whether you can twiddle it, tweak it or twirl it, Burning Man art oftentimes requires the viewer to somehow complete the piece through their engagement with it.  With interactive art, the viewer becomes an active part of the experience, rather than a passive observer. They become a participant.

Fish car, entrapped

And an awesome corollary to this is the unexpected combinatorial whimsy that spontaneously happens in what is essentially a community of 50,000+ performance artists spending a week in a giant dusty idea factory.  Here’s a place where you’ve got fish, and you’ve got fishermen.  You’ve got maids, and you’ve got dirty people.  You’ve got folks running around in animal costumes, and you’ve got Animal Control officers.  You’ve got platforms, and you’ve got performers.  And you’ve got an appreciative audience that might just get involved, given the opportunity.

This, of course, makes for a fabulous melting pot to brew up those magic playa moments … those serendipitous vignettes you stumble across and find yourself uttering “Oh my God … only at Burning Man” before chuckling, shaking your head, and smiling as you head off to the next adventure. Yes, if Burning Man offers us one thing, it’s the permission to rediscover our inner child … to be spontaneous, and PLAY.

So here you go … here’s a quick collection of some great ones that were caught on film.  If you know of others, pop a link to them in the comments, and tell us the story!

La Contessa vs. The Whale (2003)
A classic dance/confrontation between the (late, great) Spanish galleon La Contessa and (the late, great) Dan Kennedy’s Whale.


Lion Attacks Zebra (2011)
The stuff that goes down on the Serengeti, only not quite what you’ll see on National Geographic.


Regatta at the Pier (2011)
Build a full-fledged pier on the playa, and you can expect a regatta of all the boat and aquatic mutant vehicles to break out.


Gypsy Queen Catches a Fish (2011)
The Gypsy Queen trawler goes on playa fishing expeditions … here’s how they catch their prey.


Black Rock City Animal Control vs. Bunny Car (2008)
You just can’t beat BRCAC … especially when they’re wrangling a pack of rogue bunnies.

8 Responses to “The Combinatorial Whimsy of Interactive Art”

  1. Osc Says:

    Never Forget *Tom* Kennedy

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  2. John "Halcyon" Styn Says:

    What a great collection of clips!

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  3. Yellfire! Says:

    I took that video at the Pier. Just sayin.

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  4. MVlasic Says:


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  5. joe Mangrum Says:

    yes can we never forget “Tom Kennedy”

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  6. kimo cables Says:

    I’m a crew member of the gypsy queen, and when were on the Playa fishing its the best feeling in the world. Little and big creatures beware you may end up in our net ….beyond all that the people that run the queen are my friends and there some of the greatest people in the world ……..kimo and the vri)’(

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  7. Playa Fisher Says:

    Thanks for the nice write up. The Gypsy Queen isnt a trawler though, its a Purse Seiner.

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  8. Playa Fisher Says:

    I mean, Shes a Purse Seiner

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