Raw Creativity at its Finest

Burning Man Art Car Boombox

Although Coachella has become a mecca for music-lovers and a status symbol for music-makers, I tend to like the festivals that are considered more DIY, and where you might find the modern steam-punk variation of a cool carnie creating some of the most-cutting edge art technology [that probably glows and spits propane-powered fire!]. Two weeks ago, I spent a few hours waiting in a virtual “queue” for my Burning Man Festival tickets. Whether I go or not this year, I decided to buy my tickets early as the festival participants are multiplying exponentially each year. I miraculously scored a set of first-tier priced tickets @$210 each (plus fees), but not without some legal hacking. Tickets went live for Burning Man at 10am on Tuesday, January 19, and even though I had my browser set to refresh right when the clock hit 10am PST, I was still #2767 in line! The first three pricing tiers of 27,000 tickets sold out in 8 hours!!! There were major technical difficulties for all, which is understandable as there were like tens of 1000s of people all trying to hit the same site/server and refreshing it over and over. Things will get glitchy!

Considering that last year’s Burning Man festival had approximately 51,000 participants and for a week became the 5th largest city in the state of Nevada, this was not a suprise. Supposedly, the US government studies the logistics of how everyone manages to avoid total chaos and keep the peace. It’s pretty amazing!

Burning Man 2010 - Black Rock City, NV

OK, so here is  a little Burning Man history lesson. The first one was held in 1986 at Baker Beach in San Fran, in honor of the Summer Solstice. There were about 20 participants and they burned a “wooden man” that was about 8 feet tall, while playing music and partying. In 1990 with 800 participants in Baker Beach, burning is banned so they find a spot in the Nevada desert to “burn the Man” with about 90 participants there. After a few years, its popularity grew to where it eventually found a home in an ancient lake-bed about 3 hours northeast of Reno, NV. It is in the middle of NOWHERE! Like is said, this year there were 51,000 humans at their creative best that trek out to this event, while the man stood 104ft tall. The central temporary buildings with the most stories and detail tend to be “the Man” and the “Temple” (a place where you  honor the sacred in all, where all religions and beliefs collide.

The Temple of Burning Man in 2008 - 3 stories, spiral staircases. Wow!

Black Rock City has become mecca for large-scale, kinetic and interactive ART, creativity and technology in harsh conditions!  A lot of the art at Burning Man becomes large-scale Public Art in cities all over the globe!

An entire global subculture of “Burners” has formed around those that have trekked to this festival. And trust me, it is not for the weak of heart. There are some pretty harsh conditions, that include dust-storms, strong winds, and well you pretty much bring ALL of your own survival gear: water, food, clothes, shelter, your own bike and of course anything that glows. This massive city spans about 5 miles across and it is called a “Leave No Trace” event. Meaning you take out all of your own garbage. So why go if you have to wear a dust-mask, goggles, and rough it with no showers for a week (unless your camp builds their own like mine!) Because the large-scale creativity that happens there is mind-blowing. Check out some examples:

Bliss Dance – 40 foot metal sculpture that lit up at night

Tetropolis Camp - aka 8 story Tetris Sculpture

Dragon Fire-Breathing Metal Art Car (one of the 100s of cars)

Local Burners getting some Ice

Duck Art Car (2008) - 2 buses long - $2million project

So, in conclusion, one of my favorite elements of the Burning Man family is the branch of philanthropy that has emerged from the festival. This year they donated $159,850 back to the community! Another arm of the organization is the Black Rock Arts Foundation, which funds community activist interactive art for local communities all over the world. They focus on Interactivity, Community, Education & Activism, four things we hold dear here at .keepItTight. !

Although the BRAF Grant Cycle for the community art has passed, if you have an idea for some type of large-scale art to create in the Black Rock Desert, the Burning Man Festival Art Grant deadline is TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 1st! So I am finishing up MY grant app today (more on that in a future post).

In the spirit of all the creative, large-scale, kinetic, fire-breathing, moving light sculpture ideas that are being submitted today to the planners behing the biggest festival on the planet, I as: What can YOU imagine? Because nothing is Impossible, people! Dream BIG and Keep It Tight!

The Man

Burning Man & a Big Mechanical Hand (photo by Tristan Savatier)

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