How The West Was Won: Anarchy Vs. Civic Responsibility

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Legends of America, by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)
“Legends of America” by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)

During our early history in the desert, in the mid-90s, there was a lot of infighting about what the event was for—that struggle culminated in 1996. It concerned what our city was for, and who the entire event belonged to. We started out on the beach in 1986 as a small group of people that I came to call the Latte Carpenters. These were carpenters with a liberal arts education. I was friends with a builder named Dan Richman, who was an artist, though he didn’t pursue it, a talented painter who played flamenco. He convened a little salon of sorts at his house. He’d play the guitar; we’d drink and joke and talk about philosophy and art. It was a little bohemian scene, and that’s how I met Jerry James, with whom I built and burned the early versions of the Man.

Around 1989, members of the Cacophony Society turned up at our beach burns. Cacophony was somewhat amorphous; a “randomly gathered” network of eccentrics united by a publicly distributed newsletter that always stated, “You may already be a member.” Anyone could do events; these were often pranks, or might appropriate a feature of the urban landscape as a venue for guerrilla theater. For some, this was inspired by Dada, and for others it eventually came to be defined by the writings of Hakim Bey, chiefly a book entitled TAZ [Temporary Autonomous Zone]. In the early 90’s, this was widely adopted as an intellectual framework throughout the San Francisco art underground. It seemed to partially explain what was occurring, and that is why this particular book is so frequently referenced in regard to Burning Man. (more…)

Burning Man Settles Lawsuit with Pershing County, Nev.

Gavel
A gavel.

[Editor’s Note: The AP has published a retraction and correction of its original story, which incorrectly stated the facts of the case.]

San Francisco, CA. – Black Rock City, LLC and Pershing County have reached a settlement of all issues of the lawsuit brought by BRC last year. Associated court documents were filed in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada last week. The parties are now waiting for the federal district to approve the settlement in a hearing scheduled for this coming Monday, November 18th.

“This is a very favorable outcome for all parties,” said Raymond Allen, Government Affairs Representative for BRC. “The terms address all of BRC’s and the County’s concerns.”

The settlement agreement spans ten years and is designed to cover all of Pershing County’s costs and impacts related to the Burning Man event, while also preserving participant freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The agreement is based on integration of operations of the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) law enforcement command. (more…)

Peikwen Cheng Exhibits Burning Man Photos at Paris Photo 2013

Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)
Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Photographer Peikwen Cheng writes:

“I want to share some good news. Burning Man and its community has been a huge source of inspiration. And now I’ll be exhibiting photos taken on the playa from my series Lost and Found at Europe’s most important photography fair Paris Photo. If you think the Burning Man community in Europe would appreciate visiting, please feel free to share the details for the exhibition:

Paris Photo 2013
Vernissage: November 13
Exhibition: November 14-17
Location: Grand Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris – Galerie Magda Danysz, Booth B03″

 

Introduction: The Philosophical Center

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

The mission of the Burning Man Project is to seek out Burning Man culture, as it is described by the Ten Principles, and to link these efforts and communities to one another as part of a worldwide network. Nestled at the heart of this non-profit, another institution, the Philosophical Center, will serve as both the conscience and collective memory of Burning Man. Its mission is to foment discourse that examines the Ten Principles. The motto that will guide this is a quote by William James, “Belief is thought at rest.” This ongoing 10 Principles blog series is the Philosophical Center’s public debut.

We Found Ourselves!
Porta-potty graffiti, 2013 (photo by Alexander Shalashniy)

In an essay included in this blog series, Caveat Magister writes, ”We came to Burning Man because we saw something was happening—we felt its potential all the way down to our bones, sometimes from the other side of the earth—and we were called to be a part of it. Later, maybe, we learned it has 10 Principles, and we started looking to them as a way to aspire to what we were already inspired by.” He is saying that the Principles do not precede immediate experience: they issue out of it. The Principles, in other words, are not an ideology that stands outside of one’s experience. They are a portrait of an ethos; they describe a way of life.

Perhaps the best way to commence thinking about the Ten Principles is to consider their actual language, to engage in a close reading. To begin with, they utterly lack the imperative mood; they are not commands or requests—they do not give permission or withhold it. For example, Leaving No Trace is not a commandment. Although it speaks of what we value, it does not demand allegiance. Agency resides within the actor, not externalized as rules. This assumes these values are internalized, that they arise within each individual as a result of participating in a community, and that we act, in the deepest sense, as a result of who we are. (more…)

“Like 4 Real”: DADARA Speaks at TEDx Amsterdam

"Like 4 Real" at Burning Man 2013 (photo by Yomi Ayeni)
“Like 4 Real” at Burning Man 2013 (photo by Yomi Ayeni)

Did you see the “Like 4 Real” art piece at Burning Man 2013? Did you hate it? Did you discount it as a publicity (or some such) stunt by Facebook, or a group of overly-enthusiastic Burners from Silicon Valley? You’re not alone. Turns out that was a common misconception.

DADARA (aka Daniel Rozenberg), the Amsterdam-based artist who has created over a half-dozen thought-provoking art pieces for Burning Man over the years, recently spoke in front of 1,200 people at the Royal Concert Hall for TEDx Amsterdam about Like 4 Real, his most recent offering.

It’s a wonderful talk (not to mention an interactive and participatory experience) about the principle of Immediacy, wherein DADARA provides insight into this provocative piece, including the socio-technical conditions that inspired it, the Likefesto, and the experience of displaying the sculpture at Burning Man.

Enjoy … and we encourage you to participate in the Like meditation at the end. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to “like” the Like 4 Real Facebook page. For real.

SeaCompression 2013 – Menagerie Catastrophe

SeaCom logo

Following a blustery day of spotty power outages across the county, Seattle Burners spent Saturday night under clear skies at their local Decompression event.

This is the annual fundraiser for the non-profit Ignition Northwest arts organization in Seattle. The funds fuel art grants and support of the arts community, including an annual scholarship to the Pratt Fine Arts Center.

Below is a short photo essay of this event. Click here to see the whole set.

Robin and Loren West are ready to get you in the door
Robin and Loren West are ready to get you in the door

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Event: “The Founders Speak: Burning Man, Technology, Religion & the Future”

Event flyer
Ooooh! Event flyer!

The Burning Man Project is proud to join Columbia University’s Department of Religion and Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life to present a forum on Burning Man, technology, religion and the future, featuring panelists Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man), John Perry Barlow (founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and Peter Hirshberg (disruptive cultures and technology expert).

Dr. David Kittay of Columbia’s Department of Religion will moderate a lively conversation about Burning Man as a philosophical movement, its history, and its predicted global applications.

This event is free and open to the public. Reserve your seat here.

The Founders Speak
Tuesday Nov. 19th
7-9pm
Altschul Auditorium (directions)
Columbia University
New York, NY

Much of our use of tech these days is disembodied, and some of it is alienating. Both tech and Burning Man have deeply religious aspects involving sacred spaces (virtual and playa), and his his class, Dr. Kittay looks at whether the 10 Principles could have a corrective effect on the disembodied and alienating tendencies of technology. Additionally, many of the leaders of the tech movement are Burners, so there’s a sociological as well as theoretical and practical aspect to the intersection of Burning Man and technology.

Larry Harvey is the Founder and Executive Director of the Burning Man Project and Chairman of the Board of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. He co-chairs Burning Man’s Art Department, scripts and co-curates the annual art theme, and collaborates with artists in creating aspects of the art theme and the design of Black Rock City. Larry is also a political planner. He supervises the organization’s lobbying efforts and regularly attends meetings with state, county and federal agencies. As a spokesperson for Burning Man, Larry is frequently interviewed and has lectured at Harvard, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Walker Art Center, and the Oxford Union.

John Perry Barlow is a former Wyoming rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist. He graduated in 1969 with High Honors in comparative religion from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. More recently, he co-founded and still co-chairs the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was the first to apply the term Cyberspace to the “place” it presently describes. He has written for a diversity of publications, including Communications of the ACM, Mondo 2000, The New York Times, and Time. He has been on the masthead of Wired Magazine since it was founded. His piece on the future of copyright, “The Economy of Ideas” is taught in many law schools and his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” is posted on thousands of web sites. In 1997, he was a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and has been, since 1998, as a Berkman Fellow at the Harvard Law School. He works actively with several consulting groups, including Diamond Technology Partners, Vanguard, and Global Business Network. In June 1999, FutureBanker Magazine named him “One of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Services”. He writes, speaks, and consults on a broad variety of subjects, particularly digital economy.

Peter Hirshberg is a marketing specialist at the epicenter of emerging technology, who has spent a quarter of a century charting the reverberations of all things high tech in culture and in business. Hirshberg first helped bring Apple into the online services arena, then acted as strategic adviser to Microsoft, AOL and NBC. Along the way, he was CEO of Gloss.com and Elemental Software. He’s built a deep understanding of the fundamentals of content production and consumption — and how they’ve changed, both online and off. Hirshberg is a trustee of the Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He serves on the advisory board of Technorati and keeps up a lively blog on disruptive culture.

Youth Educational Spaceship Lands in Vegas on November 15!

Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013
Kids enjoy the Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013 (photo by Heather White)

Las Vegas, NV – The Youth Educational Spaceship (Y.E.S.) project is landing in Las Vegas! Y.E.S. is a mobile spaceship classroom built from repurposed and found objects by artist Dana Albany, together with kids from San Francisco’s Tenderloin and Hunters Point neighborhoods. This collaborative art program for youth gives them time and space to create, participate, and then exhibit their work, while engaging children in hands-on experience focusing on art and technology.

Y.E.S. will be open to the public at the Learning Village, 727 Fremont Street, starting Friday November 15, with a variety of family-friendly programming including spaceship tours, mosaic workshops with recycled materials, wiring demos and interactive robotic demos, culminating in a closing ceremony and children’s art show on December 8. For more information about programming, please click here.

This program is a collaboration between Burning Man Project and Las Vegas’ Downtown Project. (more…)