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Participant posing in front of a portapotty. (Photo by Mario Covic)

Participant posing in front of a portapotty. (Photo by Mario Covic)

One of the best things about Burning Man culture is that its participants are also its creators. Burning Man is what its participants do and say and make about it — and that includes creations that reference Burning Man.

Burning Man is unique in the way it encourages participants to incorporate its logo and imagery — including the Man symbol and design, the names Burning Man and Black Rock City, and the shape of Black Rock City — into their creations and offerings to the community. We see these uses most frequently in the season leading up to the event, often as part of fundraising efforts for art projects, theme camps and products offered to Burners.

The challenge comes when those creations conflict with the 10 Principles, and it’s usually an issue related to Decommodification. We don’t support projects that turn Burning Man into a commodified product for sale. We do license the Burning Man identity for certain third-party projects, but we do so very carefully for projects that represent the best of Burning Man culture. An example of this is allowing the use of “Burning Man” in the title of a book of photographs from Black Rock City. But we don’t license Burning Man for use as a commodity. You’ll never see Burning Man Brand LED GlowyFur™ available at your local BoxStore™. When a work crosses that line, we step in to protect the culture from misrepresentation and exploitation.

A recent example is the Burning Man Board Game. The developers reached out to us a year ago, and after extensive review, the developers were told they would not receive permission to use any of Burning Man’s legally protected intellectual property, including the Burning Man and Black Rock City names, the Man logo and the signature shape of the city.

Last month the game appeared as part of a Kickstarter campaign. While our fundraising policy allows the creation of crowd-funded campaigns that directly fund art, theme camps and mutant vehicles, the board game Kickstarter was being used to fund the creation of a product, with only a portion of revenue to be donated to theme camps or playa projects.

There’s an important distinction between using Burning Man’s IP in the appreciation gift one receives for making a donation (which is fine, as long as the guidelines are followed), versus in the product that is being crowdfunded itself. If we were to allow the use of our name and symbols in the product (in this case the board game), then it would open the door for other entrepreneurs to sell Burning Man merchandise under the guise of fundraising. This could set a dangerous precedent in terms of protecting our cultural integrity.

In the case of the board game, the campaign organizer stated the fundraising effort was designed to comport with the 10 Principles in that one portion of the donation would go toward the cost of producing the game and another portion would be donated as a gift to one of several high profile theme camps. However, in keeping with the Decommodification and Gifting Principles, we allow participants to use Burning Man’s intellectual property to fundraise directly for Black Rock City-bound projects, including specific artwork, theme camps, and mutant vehicles. Any other use requires special approval and a licensing agreement from the Burning Man organization.

The Burning Man board game is just one example a project that comes in conflict with the Principles. Others have included an individual selling jewelry with the Man symbol to raise funds for his camp, a high-end concierge service using the Burning Man name and logo to market their services, and companies offering to ship large quantities of their product to Black Rock City to give away for “free on playa” in return for the right to market the experience to the world.

In the vast majority of cases, these kinds of issues are resolved with a phone call. Only very rarely have we been forced to resort to more formal action.

Here’s the thing: We are truly inspired by the creativity of Burners — the range of ideas from our community continues to expand in impressive ways. And on the surface, many of these ideas sound great. But we take the responsibility of protecting Burning Man’s long term cultural integrity seriously, and we have to examine all of the possible outcomes and unintended impacts of a project.

Participants are welcome to gift items that incorporate the Man, the Black Rock City design, etc. to their donors. But that’s different from manufacturing a product at cost and selling it, which is not allowed. For more information about Burning Man’s approach to intellectual property, check out http://burningman.org/network/about-us/press-media/trademarks-images-faq/ on our website.

Remember: It’s not a gift if there’s a price tag attached to it.

Artist Update: Global Lives Project

Gallery for the Future Exhibit

If you like “day-in-the-life” videos, you’re in for a treat. The Global Lives Project is having its first exhibit (with new footage) in Palo Alto. Highlighting the lives of 20 people from 17 countries around the world, the exhibit features 24-hour long “day-in-the-life” videos.

The Global Lives Project, in its infancy, was funded by the Global Art Grants program in 2007. At that time, Global Lives was a small collective of ambitious, visionary filmmakers and activists. Now a nonprofit organization, Global Lives is comprised of hundreds of volunteers (filmmakers, photographers, engineers, programmers, scholars, etc.). Their growth and commitment to their vision is truly inspiring!

When: May 5, 2014 – September 1, 2015
Where: Window Gallery Open 24/7
Institute for the Future (IFTF) Gallery for the Future
201 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Visit the project’s website to learn more about this exhibit.

School Exhibits

As stated on their website, the Global Lives Project “explore[s] the diversity of human experience through the medium of video, and encourage[s] discussion, reflection, and inquiry about the wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions on this planet.” They have been extremely active in promoting cross-cultural understanding in schools, and recently wrapped up their fifth school exhibit this year at Horace Mann School in New York. The exhibit encouraged students to practice “global empathy,” an act of identifying with people from other cultures and countries.

Past Global Lives Exhibit at Envision Academy in Oakland, CA.
Past Global Lives Exhibit at Envision Academy in Oakland, CA.

Other exhibits took place at Envision Academy in Oakland, CA, Gateway Middle School and Creative Arts Elementary School in San Francisco, CA, Palo Alto High School, and San Francisco State University.

Visit the project’s blog to learn more about the school exhibits.

Global Lives is staying busy spreading their global empathy education program! If you are a teacher or school administrator interested in bringing Global Lives to your school, please contact david here: david (at) globallives.org, and check out their website, globallives.org for more information about the Global Lives Project.

San Mateo Innovation Week: “Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation”

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.51.12 pmWhat: Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation
When:
Thursday, May 14, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (PDT)
Where: Kingfish Restaurant, 201 South B Street, San Mateo, CA 94401

Social media, on-line platforms, and urban prototyping have transformed the ways citizens interact and participate within their communities. Information is more accessible, dialogue is on-going, and expectations for involvement continue to rise. Burning Man and the Davenport Institute join the City of San Mateo during San Mateo Innovation Week to explore the strategies, techniques, and philosophies that inspire citizens to get involved and contribute to making lasting solutions in communities near and far.

This panel features Burning Man co-founder and former City Manager of Black Rock City, Harley Dubois; Ashley Trim, Assistant Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy; Leslie Pritchett, Public Art Instigator and board member to several arts-based and nonprofit ventures including The Crucible and American Steel Studios; and Gordon Strause, Director of Neighborhood Operations with San Francisco-based Nextdoor. Stuart Mangrum, Education Director for Burning Man will facilitate the discussion.

Refreshments will be provided. Please visit San Mateo Innovation Week 2015 for more information and reserve your space.

Desert Arts Preview 2015

Burning Man Arts hosted the 10th annual Desert Arts Preview on Sunday May 3 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco’s Fort Mason. This sold out event, held in its largest venue to date, featured eight artists (and art teams) talking about their artworks in progress destined for Black Rock City 2015.

Speakers included Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate (Project Empire), Rebecca Anders (Illumicanth), Scott “Skeeter” Cohen (The Life Cube), Flux Foundation (Dreamland), Capra J’neva (Axayacoatl), Chris “Kiwi” Hankins (Goddess of the Empty Sea), Marco Cochrane and Julia Whitelaw (R-Evolution), and Jazz Tigan (Temple of Promise).

We’ve recorded the event for your viewing pleasure. So grab a tasty beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy:

Beyond Thunderdome

by Mary Fucking Poppins

That’s right, bitches, I did it. I went to Thunderdome last night battled, and won.

Well, sort of, the guy that I fought threw the fight.

I have been at Burning Man for a few years now and have always thought that I wanted to fight it out in Thunderdome.

Man, was I wrong. That shit is some hard fucking work. Not because it’s about fighting, at least it wasn’t for me, but because it’s about showmanship.

The crowd might get excited to see people whack the hell out of each other, but the point is to entertain, this is what my opponent explained to me as we got ready to go into the dome. (more…)

Get Your Makin’ Pants On, Maker Week is June 12-18!

Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013 (photo by Harley Dubois)
Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013 (photo by Harley Dubois)

It should probably go without saying that we’re all about makers, and the maker movement. Our friends at Maker Faire are kicking some serious maker butt these days, with over 130 Maker Faires now happening around the world annually, inspiring thousands of people to start making, and giving makers the showcase they need and deserve to show off their creations.

The movement got an incredible boost last year when President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire and issued a call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” And so here we are, doing just that. The White House recognizes that by “democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything, Maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.”

2013 Global Arts Grantee Metamorphosis at Maker Faire in 2013.
2013 Global Arts Grantee Metamorphosis at Maker Faire in 2013.

This year, the White House will celebrate a “Week of Making” from June 12-18. The week will coincide with the National Maker Faire in Washington D.C., featuring makers from across the country and participation by a number of federal agencies including the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA, Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Homeland Security and the Smithsonian. Pretty cool.

President Obama with Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama with Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

At last year’s Faire, President Obama met Lindsay Lawlor, who built a 17-foot, talking robotic giraffe named Russell that you might have seen loping around Black Rock City in years past.

As the President put it, “Today’s D.I.Y is tomorrow’s Made in America.” Yeah, he gets it.

Embrace

by Mark Magellan

There was a lone structure burning on the desert.

Morning burn of Embrace by The Pier Group.

Morning burn of Embrace by The Pier Group.

The sexless giants stood erect over the world; they gazed into each other’s eyes, saying goodbye to the world that was, and embracing what was bound to come; their shadows formed dark tentacles that were nailed to the desert floor, mocking the light from the blazing fire.

The antique land was full of wanderers who had created a new Canterbury; the ashes from the lovers would be their new covenant, the relics of eternal love, their hope to carve shapes out of the chaos.

Two, among thousands, sat watching the colossal structure. (more…)

Burning Man Arts Presents: The Artists’ Symposium and Desert Arts Preview

artists_symposium_banner
The veteran artists of our community hold a wealth of knowledge and experience: possibly the most valuable resource of all to other artists, and one that has been inadequately tapped until now.

Burning Man Arts — in the spirit of facilitating collaborative connections — is pleased to invite our community’s artists to an all-day Artists’ Symposium for artists to share knowledge and connect around mutual goals and needs. If you’re an artist (or would-be artist) creating work destined for Black Rock City or anywhere else, this is a fantastic opportunity to network with other artists and arts professionals, learning best practices about creating large-scale artwork.

You’ll learn from experts in fundraising, project management, heavy equipment, fire art, structural engineering, public art and more. See all the details here.

The event will be followed by the Desert Arts Preview from 6-8pm … come see artists presenting their works-in-progress for this year’s Burning Man (note: a ticket to the Artists’ Symposium includes admission to the Desert Arts Preview. You can also purchase tickets just for the Desert Arts Preview).

What: Artists’ Symposium
When: May 3 @ 10am – 9pm
Where: Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123 (directions at www.fortmason.org)
Cost: $20
Tickets: Buy tickets or RSVP

Questions? Email artsymposium here: artsymposium (at) burningman.org.