In a lecture at Stanford University on January 14, 2011, Fred Turner (Associate Professor of Communication) discussed his opinions on the social phenomenon of Burning Man and how he thinks the ideals of the festival apply to the marketplace that is evolving in our society, specifically in the Silicon Valley.
It’s a fascinating talk, filled with interesting insights … watch for yourself, and share your thoughts in the comments below:
Ten years ago I saw a guy dressed like a stockbroker walking along the Esplanade. He was wearing a dust-covered suit and tie, yelling into a cell phone, “Sell, I said! SELL!!!!” It was cute.
Last year I saw quite a few people checking cell phones at Center Camp throughout the week. It was not cute.
Over the years, cell phone & internet access has become more and more accessible at Burning Man – and I think it is a shame. Do I have any right to dictate how someone behaves or “Radically Expresses” themselves? Nope. But I think the Playa’s rare gift of “Immediacy” is in jeopardy.
I was asked about my thoughts this week and clarified my frustration in the video below.
These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.
Burning Man is pleased to announce the launch of Spark!
Spark is an online application designed to facilitate connections among Burners, fostering collaborative efforts related to theme camps, art installations, mutant vehicles and other Burning Man–related projects. Spark provides a secure, centralized place for people to post listings to seek or offer resources and skill sets to make projects a reality.
So let’s say you can’t possibly pull off your project without a carpenter, electrician, sword-swallower, welder, dancer, aerialist, fire performer, painter, hooper, dude with a truck, seamstress, zebra trainer, project manager, or a 6’5″ woman who juggles flaming chainsaws. Pop a listing onto Spark seeking what you seek!
Or let’s say you’re any one (or more) of those things and you want to offer your skills to a worthy project. Pop a listing onto Spark offering what you have to offer!
But keep this in mind: Spark is not intended to be a commercial connection engine — it’s about collaborations. If you’re offering commercial services, please do that elsewhere. If you’re looking to promote your fundraiser, Spark is not the place for it … use our Support a Project page for that. Take a look at our Spark community guidelines for more information.
We hope you find this to be a useful tool in sparking your ultimate Burning Man experience. Now, click the link and … go forth and collaborate!
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
By Maxo. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
If you get enough burners together in a room, they will probably (A) throw a party that involves at least partial nudity, or (B) create a sculpture installation that involves at least partial nudity. Because … well … really, is there a better option?
But if you get a lot of Burning Man regional representatives from around the world together into one room, they will probably end up having a panel discussion on best practices – and it will involve serious note-taking.
I mention this to set the stage for the Burning Man Regional Network Summit, where I found myself surrounded by many of the people who are absolutely essential to Burning Man at the state and local level … and geez, were they taking notes. What I’m saying is: data was compared. Best practices were rocked. Flow charts flew. Did they have fire? No – but they had mad fire safety tips. There were no DJ’s … which is kind of a blessing, once you’re in the middle of a nice conversation with a woman from Prague and you actually want to hear what she’s saying … but there was a lot of talk about how to integrate people who want to DJ into your volunteer structure. Because, Christ, a lot of you want to DJ.
It clearly takes all kinds to Burn a Man, and one of the first meetings I attended was about how to reach out to your local burner community and keep everyone in the loop. This is essential, not just because it helps them know what Burning Man is up to but because it also makes people more likely to come out of the woodwork and explain how they can help. Because, goddamn, those of you who don’t want to DJ often have incredible skills no one saw coming.
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. Read more »
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.
“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.