And Then It All Burned Down

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So, did you do anything special Saturday night?

We kinda did.

What if you dreamed up the most impossibly beautiful and perfectly timed thing you could summon your heart and mind to imagine? And what if you labored all year to pull the strings and find the money and overcome the forces who would defeat you? And what if somehow, once again, you persuaded all your friends to help?

And then what if you actually watched it all taking shape, agonizingly slowly and with great effort, rising in the bright white heat of the desert?

And then what if it finally stood there, appearing and disappearing majestically between whiteouts, and in the evenings glowing with a mesmerizing tranquility against the purple of the hills?

And then what if in that moment of triumph of will and sweat, of tears and blood, what if you said, ok, that’s it. That’s enough. We are done with this. We dreamed it and we did it and now it is time to be done with it. So you lit the torch and set fire to the thing, and you watched the flames consume that which had consumed you.

That was our Saturday night, and we wish you were here.

And if you were here, thank you very much, nothing more to see here; time to move on.

Oh yes, there is still a Temple to burn tonight, but the apex of Burning Man has been reached, and just like that, it is time to get back to the present, and to the immediate future, and then maybe, some time later, to think about what will come next. But for now, strike the tent, literally pull up the stakes, sort your trash and get the hell out of Dodge. It is time to get back into the moment.

Weather reports Sunday morning were scaring the general population, and we secretly thought that this wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. People being in a hurry to leave was ok with us. We don’t mean to be harsh, and we mean this in the most loving way possible, but we are tired of your face and it’s time for you to go.

This giant Burning Man has almost come to a close, and it is going to take a long time to get everyone out of boomtown Black Rock City, and the sooner some people hit the road, the better for all concerned. So here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?

In the daytime, the saucer would come and go with the winds
In the daytime, the saucer would come and go with the winds

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Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult’s Burn Night

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to have photographer Michael Holden documenting the art and experience of Burning Man for you this year, and posting regular submissions to the Burning Blog. You can find all his posts by clicking here. Enjoy!]

 If you are just joining us, for the sake of reference, scale and sheer wow factor, Cargo Cult’s Burning Man was on top of the largest base ever: A giant UFO.  Look at those two people in the shade in the left side of the photo….

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

 

The Burning Man starts to sparkle at 9:34 PM

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

We have liftoff…

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

Sparkleworks!

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

The Signal is sent…

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Flame effect as it is triggered….

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

Flash #1…

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

 

New haircut…Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

 

Lookin’ good!Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Flash #2, aka “the big one”Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

Time to burn.

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

 

The effect in the next three photos is called “the heart attack”…

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

Huge fire…

 

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

 

 

Moments before the collapse, 9:49 PM…Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult Night of the Burn

Lots more to shoot, temple burn tomorrow night.

The Man burns in 365 days.

 

Don’t be a stranger, stay in touch with me on flickrfacebook or 500px or drop me a line at michael here: michael (at) michaelholden.com.

My Burn From Home…

TIB ALeksWe got an email on Thursday evening while at Burning Man that our condo in Oakland had flooded, so I decided to come home a little early.  The plumbers were able to fix it from the outside but the management company said that there was water in the outside hallway, and we found that fairly concerning.  So I was up early on Friday morning, down the hill, a little clean-up and all is okay.  But you know I am missing y’all, you know who you are.

I camp with The Mansonian Institute, and we always have an amazing mix of campers.   This year we have a lot of crew from The Generator, because my camp leader, Joe Olivier, is on the Board of Directors. Many of them were involved in building Pier 2 and La Llorona in 2012.  I immediately liked Fish, young enough to be my grandson and kind, smart and attentive.  So when I discovered he was also a photographer I of course wanted to see his photos, and to share them with you.  So from here at home, on my little porch, is a new photographer that I am sure you will be seeing again, Aleks Stirajs. The first Truth is Beauty shot is during the electrical storm during set up and it is my favorite.
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The Man Burns in 0 Days

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to have photographer Michael Holden documenting the art and experience of Burning Man for you this year, and posting regular submissions to the Burning Blog. You can find all his posts by clicking here. Enjoy!]

 

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

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Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

CoRE 2013: 360° Panoramas

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to have photographer Michael Holden documenting the art and experience of Burning Man for you this year, and posting regular submissions to the Burning Blog. You can find all his posts by clicking here. Enjoy!]

 The 2013 CORE installations burn tonight. In about four hours. Yikes. I made these panoramas of each of the four CORE groups this morning because I wouldn’t get another chance. Click the image below to check ’em out. For best results, follow the instructions on the next page.

2013 CoRE Project 360° Panoramas

 

On that note, I’m going to change into my burn clothes and double check my gear, because at the stroke of 9 o’oclock tonight, these installations are gonna burn, big-time.  Should have pics of that later tonight.

Stay in touch on flickrfacebook or 500px.

 

The Burn So Far

The Man welcomed crowds to his saucer
The Man welcomed crowds to his saucer

So after all the months, and then all the weeks, and then the days of prep and planning and building and worrying and leave-taking, guess what? Burning Man snuck up on us and blasted right out of the gate.

Just like that, the doors opened and thousands and thousands of people poured through, some more slowly than others, and swelled the population of the city to holy crap 55,000 by midday on Tuesday. So it’s pretty clear that this won’t be a year like last year, when the population declined for the first time.

We find it next to impossible to even pretend to have a handle on what is happening at Burning Man. We only touch one part of the elephant; your results may vary.

All we know is that people couldn’t wait to get here this year, that tickets seemed in demand right up until the the time of the opening, and the our little bubble of a world has been colored a rusty shade of red from the wildfires that rage nearby. Sunrises and sunsets are orange and red, and at night the moon looks like it is in eclipse, because it is so perfectly orange.

Is the city having growing pains? Hard to know. How big is too big? Also hard to know. We do know that most likely there will be more burners in Black Rock Desert this year than ever before; we also know that there are more people who consider themselves Burners who have never been to the Nevada desert, but they feel part of whatever this is because of the associations they have made on the Regional level.

“There is a Burning Man movement,” Larry Harvey his own self said this morning, “but we didn’t generate it. … We don’t provide the content, just the theme. … And we know that this community is allergic to pronouncements.”

True, true and true.

Crimson got ready to light the cauldron (Photo by Erica Bartel)
Crimson got ready to light the cauldron (Photo by Erica Bartel)

The Burning Man ethos strikes us as the same as a successful startup – first create something cool. Worry about everything else later. And it seems to us that the Burning Man organization has been doing that since the beginning, out there on Baker Beach.

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State of the Art, Burning Man 2013

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to have photographer Michael Holden documenting the art and experience of Burning Man for you this year, and posting regular submissions to the Burning Blog. You can find all his posts by clicking here. Enjoy!]

I think that y’all like my photos more than my prose. In the spirit of doing what one does best, I’ll cut this short and get back out there.

Burning Man Art Preview:  Truth is Beauty panorama

Truth is Beauty by Marco Cochrane

 

Burning Man Art Preview: Victoria CoRE

Flor de Muerto by Victoria CoRE, during construction

 

Burning Man Art Preview: Victoria CoRECompleted

Flor de Muerto by Victoria CoRE, on the evening of it’s completion

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The Desert Is Spiked

Coyote called people over to begin the ceremonies
Coyote called people over to begin the ceremonies

And so it begins again.

There was a howling wind on the Black Rock Desert on Sunday, and there had been driving rain the night before in Gerlach. But now the sun was blazing and the sky was magnificent as about 75 people gathered to drive the Golden Spike into the desert floor, the first official act of Burning Man.

It doesn’t just happen, you know. Many things must come together, many sacrifices must be made, for Black Rock City to rise. Jobs must be quit, leavings must be taken, and sweat will coat many faces before the festivities begin.

But this, this vast empty timeless place, this is what draws us first. This is the blank canvas. This is where it starts.

Like so many things about Burning Man, it wasn’t always like this. The desert is the only thing that hasn’t changed. Everything else has grown, become more ornate, become layered in ritual and remembrance. The first time a spike was put in the ground to mark the place where the Man would be built, there were only four people around. But now there were words to be said and liquor to be shared. There was a consciousness and intention about the work that was about to start, and the moments did not go unremarked on.

“Are we back here already?” Crimson Rose asked. “Did we ever leave?”

As the years seem to hurtle one into the next, it seemed indeed like we had never left. But again, just as there is sameness, there is difference, too. Last year there heavy hearts, the weight of sadness and loss everywhere. But this year, you could sense acceptance. Time has passed. Distance has been gained. Perspective, and maybe some wisdom, has been achieved.

Miss Stress gave the spike a mighty whack
Miss Stress gave the spike a mighty whack

“You are my friends 365 days a year,” Makeout Queen proclaimed as she held the sledgehammer above her head.

And even though there were laughs and hijinx, there was also a somber gratefulness that those who were out here had made it through another year. “I want to thank you all for staying alive,” someone said. “This year I dedicate this to the people who are here.”

And with that another hammer blow drove the stake a little deeper into the ground. One by one, people stepped up and said what they had to say. Some people were profound, some were sad, some were funny. But everyone seemed to respect the moment, and they were grateful. “I’ve been here a month,” Miss Stress said, “and I still look like this,” she said, pointing to her hugely smiling face.

But pretty soon it was all done.

The blank canvas
The blank canvas

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