Every year, artists from around the globe come to Burning Man to create art. Since 1999, the Video Documentation team has set out to capture the creativity that participants and artists bring to Black Rock City.
In the spring of 2003, we “shot” many San Francisco Bay Area artists in their studios as they began fabricating their large-scale art installations for the event, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at how Black Rock City art is made. Artist Rosanna Scimeca and the crew of Cleavage in Space (also known as The Chandelier), Michael Christian with Klimax, David Best with the Temple of Honor, and Nate Smith with Pillar of Fire stand out among all of the artist we visited not only for the grandeur of their vision but also for their artistic ingenuity.
We also began transcribing art documentation footage from previous event years. To date, the Video Documentation team has produced more than 70 hours of footage, with 15 hours of artist interviews. After the 2003 event, we had 25 hours of footage that will be transcribed in early 2004.
ON THE PLAYA
This year, Burning Man experienced a 50% increase in art installations over the previous year. The Video Documentation team met this increase with the addition of four new shooters, a new operations manager, and a sound engineer. We also had a new location for our base of operations on the playa, sharing Media Mecca space with the Media Team, the Black Rock Gazette, BLM, and other media outlets. This new location helped develop team connectivity and on-site productivity.
On-site, we had several setbacks, including equipment failure, a very sick team member, and tardy and inconsistent transportation for the team. Plans are in place to remedy the avoidable problems next year.
After the 2003 event, we continued with our transcription efforts; window dubbing all the footage and cataloguing it. We also connected independent filmmakers with the footage they needed for their projects. This was a new process for the team, requiring the adjustment of minor team functions to accommodate the growing demands for footage by those outside of the Project.
In 2004, we plan to finish transcribing the rest of the footage, with hopes of producing an introspective look at the art installations of Burning Man, tentatively called “Art of Burning Man.” Next year, the Video Documentation team will be adding to our group of experienced shooters—both to spread out the on-site workload and to insure against technical difficulties like those this year—as well as to our production assistants.
Hellga, aka The Liberator