Things ran very smoothly for the ARTery in 2009. Suffering the effects of the global recession, the number of art projects was slightly down from the previous year. There were 215 pre-registered art placements, and 24 honorarium art projects.
The ARTery continued to enjoy its new Esplanade location, between the Manoleum (formerly known as the Man Museum) and the Culture Labs, as both the ARTerians and artists got to watch the art of Black Rock City unfold. This was particularly thrilling this year, as the Towers of Shiva and the Raygun Gothic Rocketship were in close enough proximity that the ARTery felt like it was part of the installations’ construction.
There were some challenges with the GPS (Global Positioning System) units, which are used to guide the placement of artwork on playa. Due to a software glitch, most of the GPS waypoints for the pieces were several feet off from the mapped location. For some projects, the discrepancy was in excess of 100 feet. This created a backlog of art to be placed, as the ARTery worked fast and furiously to correct the issue. By Monday of the event, placement was back on track, and a large percentage of the pieces were placed.
In 2009, the art tour waiting area was at the Culture Labs, next to the ARTery headquarters, allowing the ARTery staff to process and place artists, rather than struggle to manage crowd control just before a tour was scheduled to depart. Another huge boon for the art tours was having the Nowhere Omnibus as a dedicated tour vehicle. A Burning Man funded art installation, the Omnibus was a motorized coach designed to look like a British double-decker mass transit bus. It seated close to 50 people for each tour, and despite some mechanical challenges, it ran on time throughout the event. This was the first time in several years that the ARTery had a dedicated. The art tour team recruited several other mutant vehicles to participate as well. Almost everyone who wanted to experience a Burning Man art tour was able to enjoy a ride while taking in the variety of Black Rock City’s art.
The self-guided and audio tours continue to be a huge hit! Hundreds of participants were able to tailor their own art tour experience through these two guides. Each year both the audio and self-guided tours get better and better, thanks to the hard work of the art tour staff.
There were a few challenges regarding safety this year, in particular with an art project called the Wedge. Designed as “a synthetic grass lawn that ascends to a sunrise/sunset lookout providing a shade structure lounge underneath,” it quickly became a crowd favorite with hundreds of people sliding down the “interactive slope”. When the synthetic lawn and other materials scraped and cut a number of people, the artists worked closely with the ARTery to implement some changes in an effort to reduce injuries (moving forward, the ARTery is going to work even more closely with the artists pre-playa to identify potential safety issues and hazards). Regardless, this great project served to remind that we’re all big children, when given the opportunity to relive the joy of a simpler youth.