Performance Safety Team

The Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) lived up to its new improved name in 2010. The team started the year with a consolidation of process and documentation. This allowed us to help artists to move through the registration details quickly and to create dangerous art safely for the enjoyment of all of Black Rock City.

We have been seeing a growth in the use of flame effects in Theme Camps and on Mutant Vehicles and have concentrated efforts in both of those areas to reflect this.

A team was created in 2010 to visit camps and check in with folks using flame effects. The focus was to check for fire extinguishers and to create a dialogue about fire safety within the camping areas. This effort was well received by the camps and was enjoyed by all of the FAST members who participated.

In order to keep up with the increase of flame effects on Mutant Vehicles, we added team members to work with DMV inspections. Black Rock City is the only city on Earth with a fleet of vehicles deliberately ablaze commuting from point to point in Burning Man style.

One of the sites that participants stumbled onto this year was an honorarium (e.g. funded by a Burning Man Art Grant) project called the “Towering Inferno” by Anton Viditz-Ward. Sparks showered the night as the piece flipped over and over filled with blazing firewood. There was always a gleam in the eyes of participants as they were allowed to spin the handle that caused it to flip and fill the night sky with a stream of glowing embers.

Only a few short steps away stood another honorarium project, the “Spire of Fire” by Steve Atkins and Eric Smith. This piece was close to 50-feet tall with four segments that when ablaze created audible thumps as they burst into a series of effects on each of the levels. One could not help but to be impressed as its entire surface was consumed time and time again by huge fireballs controlled by delighted participants.

“The Heart Machine” by Christine Irving and the Site3 Artists brought together a new group of fire artisans from Canada.  These artists created a piece that was both fun to look at during the day and great at night as it drew folks in from the dark to gather by its warmth. The design of its layout created a central area that was both warm and nicely lit by the flickering firelight.

In 2010 the deep playa also held surprises such as “Caged Pulse Jets” by Christina Sporrong. A larger-than-life birdcage-style enclosure held whirling, screaming pulsejets screaming impossibly fast. As air and fuel were mixed they sputtered and popped, bringing smiles and wonder to those who approached with hands clasped over ears.

“MEGATROPOLIS” by Chris Hankins (Kiwi) and Otto Von Danger was an outpost city at the fringes of Black Rock City. As a city it was doomed from the start. As the sun set on Friday of the event the citizens of Black Rock City gathered to watch it burst into flames and dramatic explosions. Within a few minutes it was totally destroyed.

Everyone loved it! Perhaps the apocalypse will not be so bad.

With great weather for most of the 2010 event we saw nightly examples of the fire arts culminating with the “Temple of Flux” by Rebecca Anders, Jessica Hobbs, Peter Kimelman and crew. This massive complex of canyon-like structures was a somber place for the citizens of Black Rock City to come and remember. Passages and paths provided a spot for everyone to take a moment for the sacred. Sunday night an all-star crew of experienced fire artists came together to create a blaze that did not disappoint and indeed was a great way to send all of those memories and wishes skyward.

The Fire Art Safety Team was busy with these and other great fire art projects in 2010, and again look forward to helping this great city of ours stay ablaze in 2011. We will do this by helping artists to create great pieces that make this event one-of-a-kind while at the same time keeping the safety on the top of the list of priorities.

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