Posts by Moze

May 30th, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Technology

The Universe Revolves Around YOU: an interview with Zachary Coffin

 

I’ve believed Zachary Coffin was part of a select group of great Burning Man artists ever since I first encountered his Temple of Gravity in 2003. He is one of the artists out there who builds something you can’t help but see. You will visit it throughout your week there and you will use as a landmark. He fills up the space because he works on such a huge scale and he fills it with awe. His works on playa include 2001′s Rockspinner, 2003′s Temple of Gravity, 2005′s Colossus and this year, as you’ll read below, he’s bringing us The Universe Revolves around YOU.

Colossus by Zachary Coffin

Zach is an artist who works with really big things and by big things I mean twenty thousand pound spinning and hanging boulders, heavy steel structures that allow you to interact with the weight of freight trains, and the pull of the Moon on the Earth to power Tidal Indicators.  He’s like a bright spark, excited about what he’s doing yet low key about it even though he’s larger than life in many ways. Talking with him about his art you get the feeling you’re talking to an incarnation of some great God of the mountain who is pulling out stones so large that more than one would pulverize a semi with its weight. And he’s building these structures to handle that weight, then loading the whole thing up and bringing them out to Black Rock City to make those stones seem as light as a row of birds on a wire.

He and I sat down over beers across from the Burning Man HQ last week and Zach told me,

“You see a huge boulder. Ever since you were a little kid, you were never able to move that boulder. I can make it possible for you to move that boulder and through that process you can begin to understand what’s possible through engineering and through technology.” He stopped and thought a moment then added, “on a visceral level.”

He has a bit of a twinkle in his eye when he tells you his ideas, like he’s in on something so large you’re only going to get a small glimpse of what lives there, but that glimpse is big enough to blow your mind. I’ve met a fair share of artists and Zach’s one of the sincere ones. He smiles a lot and has a good humor about him and he gives off a genuinely kind vibe.  Update:  There is now a KickStarter campaign for the project. Please donate if you can: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1642032931/universe-revolves-around-you

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March 30th, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Technology

A Blue Electric Thread

One year back in the last century, after our peculiar yet determined convoy made it to Black Rock City through gate, unpacked and set up enough of our tents and shade, we did what everyone does and found ourselves skipping off into the playa dust like giddy children and making our way out to see that year’s Man up close and personal. We walked up his hay bale steps and it was still early dark, just nightfall with a few people milling about and large red and black fireballs boiling up near center camp to faraway cheers.

the Man 1998 by Andrew Penn

The Man stood tall over us and I touched the steel support that held his leg and at that moment also accidentally touched my friend and shocked him. After a breath we slowly tried it again and realized that one of us could hold the Man’s leg and then just barely almost touch a finger tip with another and this tiny, delicate thread of light neon blue electricity would dance between our fingers. It was so beautiful and unexpected, like it came to visit us and wanted to play a while. We formed a chain of people almost touching out from the leg, adding one after the other until eventually the person at the end of the chain would say, “I don’t feel it.”

When that happened, we’d move that person to the front at the Man’s leg and another line of us would form and barely touch finger tips until this repeated and another person from the rear was sent to the leg. This went on for a time until some other sparkly thing distracted us and we set out with one purpose across the dusty playa to investigate, leaving our discovery for others to enjoy.

This, of course, was right before Burning Man was officially declared dead.
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September 8th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Playa Tips, The Ten Principles

Death by 1000 cuts

Ah the sweet afterglow of Burning Man. It truly was wonderful being out there with all the Art and our Friends and the Freedom of Expression and the ADVERTISEMENTS.

Good use of your truck side

Ads? Do you even notice them? Yes dear fellow citizens, I know it is shocking, just shocking that any for profit entity would attempt to stealth their name with viral marketing or otherwise sinister attempts at promotion into our fair event, but it is there. Now I do not speak for the ORG so this is all entirely my own blather, but I go to Black Rock City to escape the constant barrage of companies doing what Mr. LH mentioned so eloquently in 1998…they do these demographic studies, and they find out what people think they want, and then in a kind of séance they summon up before you the Ghost of Your Own Desire and they sell it to you.

 

And what qualifies as corporate infiltration? Artists have logos. Big sound camps have logos. What if all the company does is give away a service like say, the people with the Bird Logo who Tweet? Their camp on Rod’s Road had their logo proudly emblazoned on their bus all week. Sure, Tweeting from the playa is a great way to let the world know what’s going on out there and the people with the Bird Logo who Tweet have been coming for a few years. And don’t get me wrong, I love them and all. Their ability to bring people together to overthrow oppressive regimes, to expose human rights abuses, to let me know when @Sn00ki is “gettin crazy w my bitch” and to organize all manner of Santas and Zombies for pub crawls is unmatched.

But that logo just kind of bugged me.

the people with the Bird Logo who Tweet banner

We don’t sell things out there, except ice and coffee and evidently that helps the local schools or something. We are a GIFT economy, not the V Festival. This isn’t Shakedown Street, this is Burning Man. And while those things have their place, we are intentionally different in Black Rock City.

 

See there are these 10 Principles and number three is this:

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

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August 24th, 2011  |  Filed under Environment, Technology

Science at Burning Man from the Exploratorium

Exploratorium Science of the playa

Exploratorium Science of the playa

Our friends at the San Francisco Exploratorium have put together a fantastic set of videos that examine some of the more scientific aspects of the Black Rock Desert.

Exploratorium video on Alkali“What do you get when you send a crew from the Exploratorium to Burning Man? Geeks gone wild! Join us on the playa in Black Rock Desert and explore the science of pyrotechnics, flight, dust devils, rainbows, and more.”

Senior Exploratorium scientist, Paul Doherty, unlocks the mystery behind the corrosive dust that coats the Black Rock Desert, the science of dust devils and the properties of Fire in the desert.

Enjoy the challenges of flying over the Black Rock Desert with pilot Michael Marin and learn about zoology in extreme playa conditions with Alex Smith as he visits the MicroZoo.

Check out these videos and more at http://www.exploratorium.edu/tv/ and understand your temporary home just a little more next week.

MOZE’S 2011 ART PICKS AND MORE

WE GO TO Burning Man for many things, COMMUNITY, EXPRESSION, MUSIC, CAMPING, UNICORNS and FRIED BUTTER ON A STICK, but for those of you who truly come out for the ART, this is a banner year. We have 300+ registered installations in 2011. There are 93 FIRE PROJECTS, up from 71 last year. We have what will be the LARGEST PROJECT EVER TO GRACE THE PLAYA and we have some new TRADITIONS.

Let me tell you a little about it.

This year our FEARLESS LEADER, the REVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGIST EXTRAORDINAIRE, Mr. Larry von Harvey has decreed the MEME THEME RITES OF PASSAGE. I’m tickled as a playa mantis in a cup of dew about this year’s ART that’s being built on the TABULA RASA of the empty playa floor at this VERY MOMENT. You lucky CITIZENS will be welcomed to a Playa that is full to overflowing with monumental, whimsical, technically spectacular and stunning ART, much of which will burn with the intensity of so many who have worked all year round to GIFT it to you.

Creating ART to take out to Burning Man is very much a RITE OF PASSAGE. All our ARTISTS will be in their LIMINAL STATE and full of joy in that playa apparition situation just in between the SEPARATION of months of working their asses off and fundraising and the eventual REINCORPORATION of disassembling or immolating the ARTISTIC FRUIT OF THEIR LOINS REALIZED. They’ve really outdone themselves this year so you’re in for a TREAT.

We also have a HUGE crop of NEW TO THE PLAYA ARTISTS making art and doing everything from a zip line to an upside down tree. Welcome and enjoy. This event will change you my friends.

Baptême du Feu

My dear friend Mr. Steve who also is involved with the ART SCENE, and I were discussing the fact that there is INDEED something GROUNDBREAKING IN A WAY that the existence of Burning Man facillitates. It is something we see very much of this time of year. In our SOCIETY OF SPECTACLE PEOPLE WITH MANY DIFFERENT SKILL SETS AND POINTS of view are working COLLABORATIVELY on COLLOSAL projects, the SCOPE and VISION of which is BECOMING GREATER and MORE SOPHISTICATED each year.. It isn’t so much that this hasn’t happened before, but just as the SCALE of our event is growing, the SCALE of this approach to MAKING ART is GAINING MOMENTUM and is specifically happening at this moment, with those of us who are part of this whole BURNING MAN thing. We are ALL indeed a bunch who are rich in spirit, experience and art who are building something new.

Speaking of all the people who work their asses off to MAKE the ART, this year once again ANARCHIST JIM and EVONNE HEYNING have put together their AUDIO TOURS which are just so entirely cool to have in your AUDIO TALKIN’ DEVICE as you’re walking around encountering ART and as a BONUS this year Jim, Patti Glenn and Reena Shah put together a PDF DOCUMENT that is OVERFLOWING with information, photographs and stories from the artists themselves. And it has a MAP. Seriously. A MAP with the ART PLACED ON IT. I love these people in the ARTery and I’m lucky enough to have worked with them since 2003 because they are some of the BEST PEOPLE I’ve ever met. I get to read every project every year as I build the INSTALLATION PAGES. So if you’re truly INTERESTED IN ART, well let me give you something to get your motor running and I’m PLEASED TO GIVE YOU this year’s

MOZE’S 2011 ART PICKS AND MORE
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August 12th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Technology

Art Tours and more

Home Sunrise photo by Ales Prikryl


The last of the Art Installation pages are up so come and read all about the amazing crop of ART you’ll be interacting with this year. We’ve got our Honorarium Art, The CORE (Circle of Regional Effigies), Art of Black Rock City and Cafe Art.

Once again Jim Tierney (Anarchist Jim) and Evonne Heyning and the whole Artery Team have put together individual Audio Art Tours for a wide variety of Installations. You can download a couple or get them all in a zip file. Bring them with you on your trips around the playa to really get some insight on these magnificent pieces.

Take a look and a listen and then YOU can be the one who, when you’re out there looking at this amazing thing before you with your friends, can say, “Well, that project was created by… and the artist says this and that….” for which your friends will no doubt be quite grateful and much spontaneous wonder and artistic appreciation will ensue.

Yes, it promises to be a great year once again. Enjoy it everyone!

July 22nd, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Spirituality

Initiations and Salutations

I’ve always liked the Burma Shave sign that reads something along the lines of, “It isn’t that Burning Man is getting smaller, it is that you are getting bigger”

My dear fellow blogger, Mr. C. Magister has proposed a question regarding this year’s theme I believe is fairly summarized as: Are we truly a movement that even can partake in ritual due to our penchant for chaos?. I would not claim to be an expert on such things, and yes, Burning Man may be nothing more than a huge party in the desert, however, with all deference to my colleague in psychic crime up here, I would like to take the liberty to suggest that I suspect there is more to this Burning Man thing we’ve created than meets the eye. I don’t believe that ritual implies orderliness, but rather I believe that the Rites of Passage is more a concept of a transition from one state of being to another.

Getting there 98

You never forget your first burn whether you return again to the playa or not. It makes an impression. When Mr. LH quotes the works of Arnold van Gennep and Raoul Vaneigem in this year’s theme, is it possible that those two tomes read together suggest, as in Rites of Passage, the movement from one status, through separation, transition and reincorporation, into another state of being and as Mr Vaneigem elucidates, on the whys and results of such a revolution of being.

Being a relative late comer and having arrived in a very Nebulous year, the longer I attend the less of a late bloomer I become and the more I appreciate the wild wind up to leaving for Black Rock City. But I remember being a tender neophyte full of anticipation. A veritable pre-initiate.

Nebulous Entity by Larry Harvey

I like to think we are all at first beckoned by the Siren’s call of one of our more eccentric friend’s insistent beseechings of “You GOTTA check it out”. At the moment you make that preliminal decision to depart and traipse to some god forsaken dry lake bed of unforeseen consequence, the ritual of initiation begins and the journey there has been aptly explored by one or two of us up here and elsewhere. Plan, make, buy, load, get the hell out of dodge, leave your town behind to journey to somewhere unknown. It is just a roadtrip to make the celestial border jump from freeway to two lane to where the pavement ends and it is there that things become interesting.

You are off the road and right onto the Anteroom off the pavement where you begin splashing around in nihilist dust, then you approach the GATE, where one could conceivably imagine a magic portico of emperors where ‘“guardians of the threshold take on monumental proportions”. “Winged dragons. A sphinx, other monsters” are sometimes parked off by Will Call. It is a place where you don’t fuck with the people who fuck with you and if you do, you fail the test, you can’t pay the Stygian toll dumbass. Is this a ritual? I have no idea.

After GATE has impressed you with the fact that if you thought you were at some Kind Brother hippie vibe love circle jerk where we all sit around singing Kumbaya you were mistaken, and if you mess up you really *could* die, you drive into the Narthex where you learn your first rule is slow the fuck down as you receive your meditation on those Burma Shave signs. Then you are to the Greeters where you used to be pulled from your car if you were a virgin and lost your pants to be ass smacked several times then to have your provisions pilfered. Now I believe they ring a bell before pilfering your provisions. Welcome Home.

Once inside the City you realize that at every threshold there is another invitation to initiation.
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December 18th, 2010  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Tis the Season for Art Grants

It is once again that most merry time of year when there is a sudden chill in the air and we are rushing around, planning, contriving, concocting, conspiring and otherwise devising our grand plans. We are making lists and checking them twice all for one reason and one reason only; that being that the day has come for us to download and begin filling out the Burning Man Art Grant Form. Yes, after waiting all year, it’s finally time to apply for a Grant!

First off, to get there, go to the Submit Grant page and read about how to Submit your Grant proposal. Then download the ZIP file at the bottom of that page at the Art Grant PDF Form Instructions and Submission Form ZIP link. There is also an updated Technical FAQ that should answer any questions you might have about filling out the form.

Minaret by Bryan Tedrick - photo by Anthony Peterson

Minaret by Bryan Tedrick - photo by Anthony Peterson

Everything you need should be on those pages, but the short of this is that the Burning Man organization gives away a lot of money from ticket sales every year to artists to help them build and get their art out to Black Rock City. There are grants for large or small projects so don’t be shy about the size of your idea. The Art Grants from Burning Man are unique in that they require nothing but that the project is on display in Black Rock City, from the very start of the event and that documentation like video and photographs are shared with Burning Man and the community so you can take your rightful place in the pantheon of Art Installations that have graced the playa.

I’m also told that on January 13th there will be an Art Grant Writing workshop in a yet to be determined location where you can work on your Grant form from 5:30 – 7:00pm then afterward the Art Lounge will be a celebration of Artists. It’ll be a great place to get pointers on putting together your Grant form and as always it will be a good time.

These Art Grants are meant to serve as seed money for a project and one common misconception is that Burning Man fully funds projects. If you’ve been around in the summer as projects are getting closer to coming into fruition on the playa, you know that just about every group that has grown up around an Art project is throwing fundraisers or setting up accounts for donations so they can get over that last final push to finish it and get it out there.

Why is that? Well there are two things the Grant process hopes to encourage. Those are Collaboration and Interactivity.

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