Posts in art

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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December 20th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

The Combinatorial Whimsy of Interactive Art

Whether you can twiddle it, tweak it or twirl it, Burning Man art oftentimes requires the viewer to somehow complete the piece through their engagement with it.  With interactive art, the viewer becomes an active part of the experience, rather than a passive observer. They become a participant.

Fish car, entrapped

And an awesome corollary to this is the unexpected combinatorial whimsy that spontaneously happens in what is essentially a community of 50,000+ performance artists spending a week in a giant dusty idea factory.  Here’s a place where you’ve got fish, and you’ve got fishermen.  You’ve got maids, and you’ve got dirty people.  You’ve got folks running around in animal costumes, and you’ve got Animal Control officers.  You’ve got platforms, and you’ve got performers.  And you’ve got an appreciative audience that might just get involved, given the opportunity.

This, of course, makes for a fabulous melting pot to brew up those magic playa moments … those serendipitous vignettes you stumble across and find yourself uttering “Oh my God … only at Burning Man” before chuckling, shaking your head, and smiling as you head off to the next adventure. Yes, if Burning Man offers us one thing, it’s the permission to rediscover our inner child … to be spontaneous, and PLAY.

So here you go … here’s a quick collection of some great ones that were caught on film.  If you know of others, pop a link to them in the comments, and tell us the story! Read more »

September 2nd, 2011  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

In Dust We Trust

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”
– Neil Gaiman

We love to hate the dust. It gets into everything, it sticks to anything. What it touches is marked for the remainder of it’s  significantly shortened lifespan. I believe we ingest a lot more of it than we imagine. Fighting it — believe me, I’ve tried — is useless.

But I find that when I quit fighting and embrace the dust, and I mean truly become one with it and of it and in it, it becomes almost impossible to become actually dirty. And my camera gets a magical Shield of Immunity against playa, and so I go out and shoot what the dust reveals.

Hawaii CORE project

Dusty Couple

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August 29th, 2011  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

State Of The Art

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

12:01 AM Monday, August 29th 2011: must be time to burn. The calendar says so.

Burning Man is in full swing. There are hundreds…no, clearly thousands of auto headlamps visible on Gate Road, something that Danger Ranger once referred to as the “String of Pearls”. Swarms of clean people are pouring out of the radial streets onto the iinner playa…and I just saw one guy belly flop with joy into the dust. And the art. The art is up, and more is coming. I can’t see it all. I can’t shoot it all. I can barely even decide which of the 3000 images I’ve captured in the last few days to display here.

So, without further ado, here’s a small sample of what Burning Man 2011 has in store for you.

“Orgasm” by Brian Tedrick

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July 18th, 2011  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Fashion from Moscow

One of the [BRAF]‘s 2009 Grantees, Cardboardia in Moscow, put on a Haute Couture Fashion Show recently and it is delightful. It put a big smile on my face!

July 8th, 2011  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Little Stories

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

That moment when you’re leaning against the railing of some art car, dazed, head lolling to the music. It’s chilly and late, and you wonder if your night is over. Then again, it isn’t up to you. It’s up to the driver of this mutant vehicle, and she doesn’t seem to be very interested in the 3 o’clock plaza, your corridor back to camp. Your fellow Burner pokes you in the ribs.

“Wake up!” he insists.

“I’m awake,” you concede.

Photo: Mischa Steiner

***

The moment a passer-by smiles at you from underneath a carved, wooden wild boar mask with broken, black tusks.

***

The moment the man stands up in the sweat hut, as naked as everyone, and starts singing “Hey Jude.” You wonder what his job is in the default world.

***

Photo: Chance

The moment you slice your knuckle with the dull multi-tool trying to punch the last hole in the last tennis ball to cover the last stake, setting up your tent on the first day.

You would have been done, ready, finally at home, but now you’re washing blood and playa off your hand, opening last year’s dusty first aid kit, swabbing with alcohol, wrapping a bandage, and laughing at yourself. Read more »

July 7th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Spirituality

Laughing our way to Tomorrow

Yes, I know what this picture is, and yes I am aware of the irony in using it here.

You’ve probably never heard of Stefan Zweig.

I only discovered him recently.  He wrote this book, you see, back in 1942.  An autobiography.  It’s called The World of Yesterday.

All of a sudden, people out of nowhere were recommending it to me.  An old college professor.  A friend’s wife.  My mom.  My freaking mom asks me on the phone “Have you ever read Stefan Zweig’s autobiography?”

So I call up a local independent bookstore.

“Green Arcade books,” says the man on the other end of the phone.  “How can I help you?”

“Yes, hi.  I’m wondering if you have Stefan Zweig’s autobiography, The World of Yesterday?”

He responds immediately.  “You’re JOKING!”

I give this some thought.  “No, I’m pretty sure I’m not.”

“Okay,” he says.  “Yes.  I have The World of Yesterday.”

“Great.  How late are you open?”

He considers.  “I don’t know.”

“Well, you’ve been a great help.”

“There’s a poetry reading tonight,” he explains.  “I don’t know how long it’s going to go.”

Stefan Zweig would have loved Burning Man

The thing about Zweig is, he was once a world famous author.  You’ve probably never heard of him … I’d never heard of him … but he was published in all the big literary journals for almost half a century.  He was friends with Rilke and Rodin.  He knew Freud.  He knew Borgese.  He knew Yeats and Pirandello and Gorky and Ravel and Joyce and Anatole France.  He was kind of the pre-WWII Johnny Carson.  He was a big deal, is what I’m saying.  I kind of want to be him.

The thing is, he saw that whole world wiped away by the Nazis.  Gone.  Obliterated.

This had actually happened to him before.  (Yes, yes, I know:  I’ll get to Burning Man eventually.  Stay with me.)   Read more »

June 15th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Otic Oasis – A Wilderness Outpost on Playa

Otic Oasis Concept Drawing (click to enlarge)

Now and again, amongst the incredible things that are headed to the playa, something particularly interesting comes across our radar, and we like to bring those to your attention.  The Otic Oasis fits the bill. Its planners write:

“The Otic Oasis is not an art installation or theme camp, it is our community defining a need and all of us contributing to make it happen!  During our residence in Black Rock City, we all experience the ubiquitous thump/thump of the deep bass beat of the electronic/trance/Burning Man branded music 24/7. This year, there’s a new installation that intends to bring citizens an audio antidote by providing an alternative of peace and quiet. The OTIC OASIS will be the first structure in a cordoned off wilderness area in the City, a part of the City where no motorized vehicles are permitted and large scale sound systems don’t penetrate – deep in walk-in camping. At last, a wilderness retreat where the aural options are in keeping with the indigenous stillness and aesthetics of the Black Rock desert.

If embraced by the community, the OTIC OASIS is intended to be a perennial structure: to return each year, as the Center Camp Cafe does, to continue to provide shade and shelter to weary travelers who might require a bit of tranquility in order to recharge.

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