Posts for category Culture (Art & Music)


December 9th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Crowdfunding Art Conundrum: is money “participation” in any meaningful sense?

Andy Warhol thought this was art.  But is it participation?

Andy Warhol thought this was art. But is it participation?

The closest I’ve ever come to “crowdfunding” something was asking a room to tip generously.  But I’m told that web 2.0 and the “sharing economy” have revolutionized the process of funding theme camps and art for Burning Man.

Granted, we live in a time when “revolutionized” can apply to the way people shop for car insurance, so the word doesn’t mean what it used to.  But the number of successful camps and cars at this year’s Burning Man that used Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform couldn’t be ignored.

And why should they be ignored?  These are all volunteers trying to create amazing things for the community’s enjoyment:  anything that makes their lives easier is all for the good.

But let’s play Indiegogo show-and-tell and see if something comes up, like a body floating to the surface.

Most of the premiums offered for supporting projects the Burn are of the “have a t-shirt!” or “get a piece of the art for your home when we’re finished” variety, and there’s really nothing to see here.

But when you reach the upper echelon of donations, a different kind of premium reward often emerges.  Can you spot the pattern? Read more »

November 22nd, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Man and the psychology of the “exotic”

And this represents ... what ... to the stranger?

And this represents … what … to the stranger?

Having reached the point where any development from Burning Man provokes a media storm (we’re just a few years away from “Larry Harvey sneezes, stock market slides”), I can’t help but wonder:  what is the Burning Man shaped hole in the western psyche?

That might not make any sense.  I apologize.  It’s dark out all the time now, which adds a lazy, self-indulgent, streak to my writing.  Like this paragraph.  Completely unnecessary.  Yet here we are.  I know better.  Ah well.  What’re ya gonna do?  To fix this I’d have to edit the first paragraph, and who has that kind of energy?

Let me explain, in a drawn-out, round-about, kind of way, what I’m asking.  Those of you who aren’t charmed by unnecessary digressions might want to skip to this article about sex in the U.S. Senate.  Salaciously speaking, that’s the high point of this post.  I’m not going to mention fellating a U.S. Senator again.

In his magisterial new book “Anti-Judiasm,” historian David Nirenberg traces … not exactly the “history” of anti-Semitism, but the various shapes it has taken over the last 3,000 years.  What he demonstrates is not just that a lot of people have hated Jews for a lot of stupid reasons, but that the justification for the hatred has often taken the shape of whatever was supposed to be wrong with Western culture at the time. Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

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″

 

November 11th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

“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.

October 29th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Events/Happenings

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. Read more »

October 17th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Down the Library

Peruse it or Lose it LibraryIn 2003 posters went up around Los Angeles featuring cuddly dogs and the cutest of kittens.  Above them, in big block letters, were the words:

We will kill our pets to protest the War.

If President Bush didn’t pull out of Iraq, the poster went on to say, “We, the Raelian Pet Owners United to Stop War, will kill our pets.”  It listed a date and time.  At a dog park, of course.

It was hilarious … and actually generated a police investigation … but it was only so interesting.  Because of course the Los Angeles Cacophony Society (the poster’s true author) wasn’t really going to kill any pets, and of course George Bush wasn’t going to pull out of Iraq, and there was nothing any members of the public could do about it anyway.  So, yeah:  very funny joke, but nothing to see here.

Ten years later, two Arizona Burners may have just done Cacophony one better.

In July Admiral Fiesta and Sista Turtle Dove began work on the “Peruse it or Lose it Library,” which had its first shelf life at last weekend’s Arizona Decompression.  The premise is simple:  they built a library for Decompression, and at the end of the event they burned it – along with whatever books were left.

If you didn’t want a book to burn, you … yes, you, the person walking by … had to take it.  Otherwise it went up in flames.

“We were compared to Nazis on several occasions,” Admiral Fiesta told me.  “To paraphrase a friend’s argument on Facebook, the Nazis were burning books as an act of censorship – particularly censorship of deviant art and pornography.”

The Nazis, however, were not famous for willingly letting things go.  The “Peruse it or Lose it Library” was different:  practically begging passers-by to be their own Schindler.

“During the event I had many people come up to me and ask, ‘Are you really going to burn books on Saturday?’” Sista Turtle Dove said.  “My typical response was, ‘Only if there are any left…’” Read more »

September 26th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

What if my art project is a loaded gun?

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter My Art Project

It was Tuesday in the desert.  The hottest part of the afternoon.  I was sitting on my favorite couch in BMIR when a woman I’d never met before came in and asked for the Rockstar Librarian Guide.

“Box,” I told her.

“What?” she asked.

“Box,” I said again.  This was a little game we played:  when someone asked for the Rockstar Librarian Guide, sometimes we’d just keep saying “Box” over and over, until they realized it was in the box they’d already passed on the way in.

She got it fast.  Satisfied, she looked around and realized that there was no shadier spot to be found anywhere on the playa.

“Hey,” she asked.  “Can I sit down?”

“Sure,” I said.  She took her tool kit off from around her waist and sat down next to me.

I don’t remember her name now, but we got to talking.  She’s 23.  Third year on the playa.  I asked her what she’d seen so far, and she rattled off a list of art projects.  I asked her what she wanted to see, and she rattled off another list.  Mostly things I’d heard of.

“But what I really want to do,” she said, “is meet the poet.”

“The … poet?”

“Yeah.  There’s this amazing poet.”

That was interesting … but … “I have no idea.  I’ve never heard of that.”

She nodded.  “Some of my camp mates met him.  Nobody knows where he is.  I hope I can find him.  I’m looking.”

“Well, good luck.”

We kept talking.  Burning Man stuff:  how do you like the Man standing on a UFO?  What do you think of the theme?  Goddamn there’s a lot of cops around. That kind of thing.

Eventually Ken Griswa, the Mad Artist in Residence at BMIR, came over and wanted me to sing somebody a song.  For … some reason.  I can’t remember now and I might not really have known then.  It can be hard to tell with Ken.

“Sure,” I said, opening up my bag and pulling out a book in which I had a list of songs.  It was part of an art project I’d brought to Burning Man.  “Let’s see if I can find an appropriate one …”

“Wait …” the woman next to me gaped.  “YOU’RE THE POET!”

Ken and I stared at her.  I blinked.  “I … I don’t think I am.” Read more »

September 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

3 Things

Photo by Paul Duane, 2013.

Photo by Paul Duane, 2013.

Here’s a sweet story for you.

At Burning Man this year, first-time Burner Paul Duane decided to pose this question to Burners he encountered:

“Imagine that I handed you a microphone; when you speak into it, the whole world can understand and hear you at the same time.  You can make 3 statements. What would you say?”

People wrote down their answers, and he took their pictures. Here’s what happened.

OK so wait. That’s not the cool part. The cool part is that an elementary school teacher in North Carolina saw his “3 Things” photo essay, and decided to have her students do it too. And she posted their photos.

Paul said, “I was excited to see my Burning Man experience make it clear into the classroom of some kids on the other side of the country …”

We’d most definitely have to agree.