Posts by Jess Hobbs

July 26th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

A Month in the Life of a Big Art Project

It’s been four months since we started the designs for the FLUX Foundation’s latest piece, Zoa. And now, it is less than a month before it comes to life in the Black Rock Desert. Our many teams have been working collectively to create a monumental experience. When you go out to the desert and see these massive sculptures, it’s nearly impossible to fathom the work it took to get them there, in front of you, blowing your mind. We thought it was high time we shared our experience with you, to give you – A month in the life of a Big Art project.

Flux Foundation by Anthony Piscitella

It is at this point in the project the theme music from Chariots of Fire starts playing in my head in full rotation, (I apologize in advance for the earworm). In other words, we are gonna make it, but we are pushing ourselves to the finish line. And yes this happens every year!

Zoa concept drawing

The build out for Zoa is coming along brilliantly. Production in all areas of the project are well underway and the shop is a flurry of sawdust, grinding, welding, soldering and, most importantly, FUN! And, in the center of all the activity we are still madly raising the funds we need to finish building Zoa. Read more »

January 27th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The Ten Principles

Gifting the Seed of an Idea

[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.]

I admit it. I search for related communities around the world embracing and incorporating collaboration and gifting into their everyday lives. With this lens, I stumble upon many interesting projects, ideas, and happenings around the globe. Given this years’ Burning Man theme, Fertility 2.0, the following example seems rather topical.

Ai Wei Wei holding the seeds from his Installation Sunflower Seeds at The Tate Modern

You can love it or hate it, but the theme this year is an interesting and timely one. The beauty of the theme is this: the myriad ways it can be interpreted. I’m sure there will be lots of mother-earth-vagina-art, which is beautiful in its own way, but I choose to view this year’s theme as a metaphor; one of sowing seeds. Seeds are an eloquent imagery that describe the process of dissemination, care-taking, timeliness and growth. These elements also aptly describe the formation of an idea, a community or a movement. There are many varieties of seeds in all sorts of shapes and sizes, all of which have evolved to interact with their environment. Seeds can be receptive to light, others to moisture, some even need fire to start their process of germination (hmmmm, I seem to like this one best). Their diversity is spectacular. Some seeds must germinate within a specific time frame, and some can survive for thousands of years.

And now for an example of seed sowing; the Incredible Edible project in the town of Tormorden in the UK.

Surplus vegetables grown at the high school go on sale, with all proceeds going directly back to the school. Image from wakeup-world.com

The lofty goal of Incredible Edible is for the town of Tormorden to become totally food self-sufficient in 7 years. How did the seed of this idea start? With a bit of something familiar to us – that good old gift economy. Three years ago Mary Clear, co-founder of Incredible Edible, did a very unusual thing. She lowered the front wall to her yard and encouraged passers-by to walk into her garden and help themselves to free vegetables.

There were signs asking people to take something but it took six months for folk to ‘get it’.

Now there are 1000’s of vegetables grown around town in 70 large beds. And one of the biggest recruiters for the project is officer Janet Scott. She watches from the station’s security camera as townsfolk come up and pick from three large raised flower beds in front of the police station.

“‘I watch ’em on camera as they come up and pick them,’ says desk officer Scott, with a huge grin. It’s the smile that explains everything.”

Why the smile, these vegetable enthusiasts are not thieves. These veggies are for taking. They are Free.

Have you seen examples of other seeds that have been sown? Please share them here.

And to find out more about Incredible Edible, visit: http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/ and Follow: @incredibledible

 

August 11th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Spirituality

Is an Oasis of Silence Possible?

Really? At Burning Man, is this even possible? A group of artists building Otic Oasis seem to think so.

Gregg Fleishman's design for Otic Oasis

3D render of Gregg Fleishman's design for Otic Oasis

Our experimental city provides us many things, but a huge gap in the structure of our temporary home are places for silence. It is rather funny isn’t it. Our city sits in the Black Rock Desert, a 400 square mile expanse of quite literately nothingness and during the week of the festival you’d be hard pressed to find a space of silence.

Otic Oasis is not your usually variety of “death to sound camps” grumpy harrumphing “Burning Man was better back in the day” project. Instead the reason I’m compelled by this project is its understanding of the need for both sound and silence. The creators behind Otic are calling for balance, creating a project that supports and expands the diversity of our city. They see that both environments are needed; the frenetic energy of the art, fire, people and music; and the silent spaces for reflection, grounding and pause. Read more »

April 2nd, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Support Peter Hudson’s Charon

Many years ago on a night of playa wandering I came upon an amazing work of art. I didn’t even know the name of it. I sat utterly mesmerized by it and returned throughout the week to participate. Later I would find out it was Sisyphish, also affectionately known as The Swimmers, by Peter Hudson. It was the beginning of my unabashed love of Peter’s zoetropic genius.

Peter Hudson's Sisyphish

Peter Hudson's Sisyphish

He has has graced the playa with many creations following Sisyphish, in 2004 with Deeper (aka the divers), 2007′s playful Homouroboros (aka The Monkeys) and 2008′s Tantalus. Returning this year after a two-year hiatus he is brings us Charon. Based in Greek mythology, Charon is the gondolier to the afterlife. This interactive artwork will physically engage people in “a vigorous genuflection of sorts.”

Peter Says of his latest work:

The greatest joy and passion of my life has been building and presenting large, stroboscopic zoetropes at Burning Man.  I am taking all that I have learned to the next level and I am truly inspired.

The best part of this year’s project is that WE can all help make it happen by supporting Peter’s Kickstarter campaign.

 

As we saw last year, Kickstarter is an essential tool that many artists use to complete their visions of participatory art.

Please help me bring this vision to Black Rock City – there is no way it can happen without you!!!  Thank you so much in advance for your support. –Peter Hudson

March 23rd, 2011  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Loch Nest – Participatory Art in Madison

At the beginning of the year a group of artists in Madison Wisconsin continued the local tradition of “The annual discarded Christmas tree spiral” with a special artistic twist. Loch Nest was a participatory art installation of these trees – a mashup of Robert Simthson’s Spiral Jetty and the Art Shanty Projects in Minnesota.

Spiral

Loch Nest from above photo by Craig Wilson

The artists used the frozen surface of Lake Monona as an ideal canvas for this participatory public art.  Much like the playa, the surface of the frozen lake is a poetic backdrop for temporary art. It made an overnight appearance about half a mile out in the middle of the lake and disappeared just as mysteriously with no trace a few weeks ago.

It was a spiraling display of 40 old Christmas trees. Inside of the spiral was a box full of ribbons with a note inside encouraging visitors to write “a resolution, wish, or something to let go.” The note read:

Loch Nest
Welcome and please enjoy the forest! This is a temporary art installation that will exist for approximately 1 month. The trees will then be removed using a ‘Leave No Trace’ ethic. If you would like to make a resolution, wish, or have something you would like to let go of in 2011 please write on a ribbon and attach it to the trees.

Loch Nest photo by Adam Briska

Participatory ribbons photo by Adam Briska

Loch Nest is one of many participatory art projects happening around the globe. What do you see happening in your neighborhood/community/city?

February 28th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

I Just Wanted to Say

In the spirit of Andie and Halcyon’s recent posts on sharing the concept of cultivation of “playa-spirit” year-round, I wanted to share the project, “I Just Wanted To Say,” a simple and engaging project that explores creating friendlier cities through the reprogramming of public transport and public seating space.

"I Just Wanted to Say" Artist Yen Trinh

This project was developed by self proclaimed, urbanist and designer, Yen Trinh, of Brisbane, Australia, with graphic design support from Steven Rhodes, also from Brisbane. It was developed in conjunction with PLATFORM, a project devised by the Public Art Unit, Project Services. It was curated by the Museum of Brisbane and the Brisbane City Council and received financial support through art+place, the Queensland Government’s Public Art Fund.

Concept mock-up of Yen Trinh's work, with graphic design support from Steven Rhodes

Design is too often seen as a superfluous and elitist preoccupation. In this project, however, Yen moves beyond the realm of logos, posters and objects and uses design as opportunity and agent for change. This project re-imagines design concepts typically found in public transport signs as an opportunity for interaction and conversation. Namely, it takes the idea of “priority seating” and adds a unique twist.

Easily accessible seats on public transport are universal. They have traditionally been designated for elderly and disabled based on both a culture of courtesy and handicap access legislation. This project uses similar visual design to create “priority seating for people who want conversation,” helping to cultivate “a culture of friendliness.”

Excerpt from the Signage:
Conversations in public spaces present endless possibilities to build connections, create community, and just make someone’s day a bit more interesting.

What makes this project interesting — and relevant to the cultivation of Black Rock City spirit — is its call for participation: anyone can download the design and make their own priority seating for conversation.

The work is currently on view in Brisbane at the RBH Busway Station until March 2011. An adapted version was seen at the Williamburg Walks in New York last June. Where else will it be on display? Well, that is most certainly up to you.  Do you know a place that could be transformed into priority seating for conversion? I just bet you do. As the project designers say: Friendliness is contagious. Pass it on.

Download priority seating signs here.

February 11th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Technology

The Future of Art in Networked Times

Fountain is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp

Last week many of us turned in art proposals in hopes of financial support for our little, or in some cases huge, artistic desert visions. The value and beauty of many of these projects is not only their eventual physical manifestation; the highly collaborative nature of their conception and construction is equally important.

Historically, in the early parts of the twentieth century, collectives and collaborative art production were a feature of Dadaism, Surrealism and Constructivism. This spirit of collective art production was then revived in the 60s by the Fluxus, Conceptual, community-based, and feminist art movements.

‘The greatest legacy of the 1960s is the community based arts’ – Lucy Lippard

Turning to our current world of desert art making, how is this collaborative nature changing the current language/dialogue of art? And how is it doing so using the many web networking tools we have at our disposal? With the importance of the art making moving from ‘appearance’ to ‘conception’ and now to ‘society’  how is Burning Man participating in fundamentally changing values within art?

The Berlin-based KS12 collective is asking some similar questions about the fundamental nature of art in highly networked times in their “The Future of Art” – an immediated autodocumentary.  The film was shot, edited and shown at the Transmediale festival last week and supplemented by realtime photos from Flickr, videos from Vimeo, and questions via Quora. It was open to for anyone to submit to the process of production. The very tools of these highly networked times shaped the film; it was a production-as-process work.

The Future of Art from KS12 on Vimeo.

The questions they were investigating are very relevant to the Burning Man art making process:

What are the defining aesthetics of art in the networked era? How is mass collaboration changing notions of ownership in art? How does micropatronage change the way artists produce and distribute artwork?

These are some of the very questions that one ponders when making work with collaborative groups such as the Flux Foundation and Flaming Lotus Girls. Last year we saw many examples of the importance of networking tools. We saw the power of social networking as it challenged Paypal, and Kickstarter revolutionized the fundraising process for countless creative projects, making the concept of ‘micropatronage’ not only tangible but accessible and essential to successful work.

In what other ways do you see this networked era change and challenge our ideas of art and art making?

January 13th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Art in Waiting

It is that time of year again when many individuals and groups are taking concepts and ideas turning them into to Art Proposals. It is a beautiful time for the creative spirit when every wacky concept seems possible to build. That inspired vision you had last year or that long festering idea is being sketched out, budgets are being drawn up, 3D renderings helping to visualize the genius, goofy handmade models painstakingly being hot glued together (tongue depressors, pipe cleaners and all) and all that conceptual blah dee blah is being churned out.

The moments when an idea is being hatched is a magical time in the process of artistic creation.

It is also that time of year when one who has created work for Burning Man in previous years also thinks, if I make another piece, where the hell will I store it? Which artspace, whose back yard, the dump, which kiddie rave or music fest as decoration, some cheap storage facility…..

When it is not burned or destroyed where does it go after the playa? Who’s responsibility is it? Will it ever see the light of day again?

Read more »