Event: “The Founders Speak: Burning Man, Technology, Religion & the Future”

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The Burning Man Project is proud to join Columbia University’s Department of Religion and Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life to present a forum on Burning Man, technology, religion and the future, featuring panelists Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man), John Perry Barlow (founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and Peter Hirshberg (disruptive cultures and technology expert).

Dr. David Kittay of Columbia’s Department of Religion will moderate a lively conversation about Burning Man as a philosophical movement, its history, and its predicted global applications.

This event is free and open to the public. Reserve your seat here.

The Founders Speak
Tuesday Nov. 19th
7-9pm
Altschul Auditorium (directions)
Columbia University
New York, NY

Much of our use of tech these days is disembodied, and some of it is alienating. Both tech and Burning Man have deeply religious aspects involving sacred spaces (virtual and playa), and his his class, Dr. Kittay looks at whether the 10 Principles could have a corrective effect on the disembodied and alienating tendencies of technology. Additionally, many of the leaders of the tech movement are Burners, so there’s a sociological as well as theoretical and practical aspect to the intersection of Burning Man and technology.

Larry Harvey is the Founder and Executive Director of the Burning Man Project and Chairman of the Board of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. He co-chairs Burning Man’s Art Department, scripts and co-curates the annual art theme, and collaborates with artists in creating aspects of the art theme and the design of Black Rock City. Larry is also a political planner. He supervises the organization’s lobbying efforts and regularly attends meetings with state, county and federal agencies. As a spokesperson for Burning Man, Larry is frequently interviewed and has lectured at Harvard, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Walker Art Center, and the Oxford Union.

John Perry Barlow is a former Wyoming rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist. He graduated in 1969 with High Honors in comparative religion from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. More recently, he co-founded and still co-chairs the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was the first to apply the term Cyberspace to the “place” it presently describes. He has written for a diversity of publications, including Communications of the ACM, Mondo 2000, The New York Times, and Time. He has been on the masthead of Wired Magazine since it was founded. His piece on the future of copyright, “The Economy of Ideas” is taught in many law schools and his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” is posted on thousands of web sites. In 1997, he was a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and has been, since 1998, as a Berkman Fellow at the Harvard Law School. He works actively with several consulting groups, including Diamond Technology Partners, Vanguard, and Global Business Network. In June 1999, FutureBanker Magazine named him “One of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Services”. He writes, speaks, and consults on a broad variety of subjects, particularly digital economy.

Peter Hirshberg is a marketing specialist at the epicenter of emerging technology, who has spent a quarter of a century charting the reverberations of all things high tech in culture and in business. Hirshberg first helped bring Apple into the online services arena, then acted as strategic adviser to Microsoft, AOL and NBC. Along the way, he was CEO of Gloss.com and Elemental Software. He’s built a deep understanding of the fundamentals of content production and consumption — and how they’ve changed, both online and off. Hirshberg is a trustee of the Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He serves on the advisory board of Technorati and keeps up a lively blog on disruptive culture.

Earthalujah Explained!

[Editor’s Note: For those of you unfamiliar with him, Reverend Billy is a New York-based performance artist whose work speaks to the heart of Burning Man’s principles of decommodification and radical self-expression. He was a Burning Man honorarium artist in 2003, where he performed in front of the Man as part of that year’s “Beyond Belief” art theme. Enjoy!]

Reverend Billy’s brilliantly bombastic, boldly brief Earthalujah sermons — now available as a podcast! Watch more episodes and subscribe at revbilly.com/podcast

 

Sometimes people come up to me and ask “The Church of Earthalujah…what is that? Is it a political rally? Is it a real church? Is it a comedy sketch? What is it?!”

Question: Is consumerism, is consumption, is consuming too much killing us right now? Yes it is. In the Church of Earthalujah we are definitely fighting consumerism. And that starts with the flags, the banners of consumerism are labels. There’s a label on every product, Amen! So, let’s not label anything. Let’s get beyond labels – that’s the devil!

We have an Earth crisis right now that we can’t label. In the old days it seems like there used to be people who would run down to the village common and shout “there’s an emergency here!” The traditional town crier. Someone should be shouting “Hey! The atmosphere! Too much heat! Extinction! Everything’s dying! Do something!” Where’s that person now? There seems to be a giant hush from the governments, celebrities, corporations, religions, armies – all the people who are supposed to be leading us. There’s a hush because they don’t have the right labels. But they look around them and they see what we all see: fires, floods, tsunamis, quakes, typhoons, tornadoes…Yes! That is the town crier! That is the force that is so powerful it’s chasing the God-forsaken celebrities off the front page of the newspaper. And that is the Earth itself getting our attention, and killing some of us.

In the Church of Earthalujah we regard these events as expressions, as words, as communications from a living being. The Earth is talking to us not just through these tragedies but every time we love each other, the Earth is whispering in our ear. When we walk out across a field on a beautiful day the Earth is alive.

Lets continue to live here. Let us ask the Earth to teach us to save the Earth and save ourselves. Amen.

Why Go Home?

Photo by Andrew Penn, 2002, http://www.fogfilm.com I was just thinking recently, very few people have ever asked me WHY i go to Burning Man?

Living in the Bay Area, one becomes accustomed to people having some sort of opinion on Burning Man, and most people are at least aware of it here.

But for people in my life who don’t get it, say, like most of my family, they ask the typical uninformed questions like “What do people do there?,” “Isn’t it hot?” or “Aren’t there a lot of naked people?”

And it’s funny, I’ve switched my attitude completely in how i react to people who criticize and/or make snide comments about Burning Man.

When I was a relative newbie (i.e. the first three years I went to Burning Man … and yes, sometimes it can take THAT long to be fully acclimated), I used to be very defensive about Burning Man and would often argue that ‘no, it isn’t just a bunch of tweaked-out, naked cyber-hippies rolling around in the mud celebrating free love and all that’ — and no offense to those of you who consider yourself tweaked-out naked cyber-hippies who roll around in the mud.

But these days, I have come to realize that there’s no point in defending Burning Man to those who do not know.

(more…)

Be In The Moment

Photo by PleasureSean

I recently saw Daft Punk play at the Greek Theater in Berkeley and beside the fact that the cheeky French duo’s light show blew my mind, i couldn’t help but notice the sea of glowing blue-hued screens of cellphone and digital cameras capturing that particular moment of the concert.

It increasingly feels like we as a culture are becoming more preoccupied with capturing a potentially “special” or “unique” moment on some sort of recording device in an age of YouTube and MySpace, where everyone is jostling to be noticed and recognized among the masses just to say “I was THERE!”

While I definitely like the concept of recording those special moments to relive again and again, there’s no arguing that a digital rendering simply cannot recreate the moment quite like being there and experiencing it.

In other words, enjoy Burning Man for what it is — Live and be in the moment! (more…)