The night before the big burn, I made a 360 degree panorama that I hoped would capture the sheer bigness of this particular iteration of the Man. There’s an interactive version on my site or click on the image below. Would love to hear your feedback!
If I had an intern, or a ghost writer, or even another fifteen minutes, this space would be occupied by poignant observations, a vague reference towards the weather, a witty quip about Burners and their general resilience to adversity, and finish with a snarky zinger. But…it’s sunset, the light is great, I’m going out to shoot, so let’s get down to it!
Embrace, by the Pier Group
The Temple of Grace, by David Best
And last but not least, El Pulpo Mechanico…
Stuff is exploding outside, gotta go. More either late tonight, or early tomorrow.
[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….
The Burning Man starts to sparkle at 9:34 PM
We have liftoff…
The Signal is sent…
Flame effect as it is triggered….
Flash #2, aka “the big one”
Time to burn.
The effect in the next three photos is called “the heart attack”…
Moments before the collapse, 9:49 PM…
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 flickr, facebook or 500px or drop me a line at michael here: michael (at) michaelholden.com.
I’ll never forget my first sunset at Burning Man. The sun hit the mountains and all around me rose this eerie noise, as almost everyone in sight stopped whatever they were doing and howled, yelled and cheered the sun down. The hair on the back of my neck prickled in response to this tribe of people celebrating the end of a day.
That stopped happening in the last few years, and now the sunsets pass relatively unannounced by our communal voices. What other traditions are vanishing or lost entirely? Burning Man culture is strongly based on oral tradition, and I love a good story, so I (in one case, literally) sat at the feet of those who have been attending Burning Man longer than I, and asked them to tell me stories.
There were dozens of replies, I’ve highlighted a few below. I did not include any of the memories of epic theme camps from years gone by, (Bianca’s Smut Shack! Xara! Jiffy Lube!), as that could be an entire blog post of its own. (more…)
As you are packing up, or starting home, or maybe already home I just wanted to share some photos that made me smile, reminded me why I go to Burning Man and keep me in awe of the art, the fire, the creativity and the community that are [BM] for me!
[Dan Miller was housemates with Larry Harvey in San Francisco from 1982 to 2000. He managed the construction and raising of the Man from 1990 to 2000 and contributed several design modifications to the Man including rigging, mechanical arm raising and the infamous straw bale pyramid bases 1996 – 2000. He took a break from raising the Man to raise his own son, born in 2001. He still brings various art pieces to the playa with his family, such as the “Yot Tub”, and lives in rural Northern CA. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]
1990 Black Rock Desert “We need your help, could you help pull this big fat rope to raise the Man?” …(it takes a village they say)…
The title, “Raising the Man,” can be taken literally, or metaphorically… The first raising in this sense, that was the seed of our current metropolis, could be construed to be the first burn when Larry Harvey and our friend Jerry James took the sticks of the commonplace, would-be summer solstice beach bonfire, and janked them up into a stick man. This was a simple, passionate act of radical self-expression. Something we can all relate to apparently, or is it more simply, the unadulterated, unmediated, redemptive power of play. Whatever it is that draws us out to such a god-forsaken, remote, desolate locale for a total ass kicking from mama Nature must surely be somehow to raise ourselves.
Since back in the early years, or the Man’s childhood so to speak, for the practicality of lugging him by hand down the long, steep sand embankment to Baker Beach, he has been constructed in six separate parts (head, torso, two arms, two legs). The Man was then assembled lying in place and then raised to a standing position by those gathered. One group lifting to an incline, then a second pulling him by rope the rest of the way up to standing.
In 1989, on Baker Beach with the Golden Gate Bridge looming to the east, we had a defining moment — due to the lack of engineering prowess and the shear underestimation of the dynamics of the growth of the Man vs. physics, when raising him, his legs, head and pulling rope snapped. I remember shuddering in horror at the mess amidst the penetrating, salty gales; first, that someone might have been skewered underneath (luckily not) and that there was no hope of repairing our broken Man in this desperate moment. Then it dawned on us that we could burn him right justly in his humiliating pile and slink back to the drawing board for our next year’s invocation.
Every generation is subtly different. Different parents and different environments result in new choices and unpredictable results. Not that most observers would notice. From a distance the Burning Man appears unchanged, a single constant anchor amidst a city of no constancy.
But look closer and you’ll see evidence of a tale forever evolving. Organic, rife with mutations and competing ideas. Of refinements and failures; all the messy flotsam and jetsam of natural selection, packed into a single human figure. The journey of eons – the human journey – recapitulated in a spare wooden effigy.
As Adam might say, “Consider the rib.”
The Ribs (First Man, 2007)
Originally carved by hand, the ribs were for a few brief years cut upon a CNC machine. In 2007 circumstance brought the process full circle, necessitating a quick return to traditional methods. During the rebirth – the heroic, on-playa creation of that year’s second Man – the ellipses that form the ribs were manually scribed by Red Ryan using only two screws, a length of string and mathematics. They were then hand cut by members of the Man KCrew and the DPW, as well as by the many citizens of Black Rock City who had joined us, unhesitatingly volunteering their labors to create Burning Man anew.
“All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” – Cormac McCarthy, “The Road”