2017 Honorarium Installations
Action Figure Family
Imagine walking across the playa and seeing a set of colorful shapes in the distance. As you are drawn closer, you see those shapes to be life-size statues, and the closer you get the more you begin to see that they are all covered in small toys. But not just any toys: hundreds of action-figures of all kinds of styles, backgrounds, comic books, and genres. They are so densely populated that these “heroes” seem to almost create the larger statue themselves by their simple convergence. Look closely – chests open to show the insides, heads have Jack-in-the-boxes that pop! Look into the little girl’s eyes and see visions of Burning Man Past. Compartments and wheels that turn and action figures at work – oh my!
Aluna is a structure that sits on its own reflection and stands as a unified entity on the playa. Upon entering, two pairs of seesaw swings hang from the ceiling, inviting you to find counterweight in a partner, who will collaborate and engage with you in a game of balance and trust. Pre-hispanic melodies converge with experimental sounds and techniques to accompany the breath and silence of the Black Rock Desert. You will be sonically immersed in an ever-oscillating universe reaching for balance. As dusk approaches, Aluna will be illuminated by hundreds of LED lights that line its frame and body, reflecting and challenging the sounds of Aluna, creating a complete interactive experience for Participants.
Photomaton is a photographic experience where people connect and receive a trace of that connection.
Aqueous in an interactive landscape of meandering pathways of light. During the day Aqueous will shift in color and reflection, mirroring the sky within a walkable dichroic surface. At night, Aqueous will flow and glow in full illuminated interactivity, engaging large groups in collaborative play.
The highly versatile shape of Aqueous is created from three, modular curved platforms derived from arcs in the Golden Ratio. Placed together, these platforms create a giant landscape of meandering pathways within elegant geometric patterns. Each platform in Aqueous is created from a custom rotationally molded form, with a specialized, anti-scratch and anti-slip dichroic top surface. During the day this dichroic surface will reflect the sky and surrounding environment. At night, each platform will glow in full direct interactively.
Aqueous is based on Jen Lewin’s work The Pool and Super Pool, however unlike both of these works, Aqueous will have a daytime presence on the playa as well.
Peter Hazel and a team of highly skilled professional artists from multiple realms is creating a forty foot tall sculpture of a “Bloom” of jellyfish. From a distance, this piece will look like a single large creature, but upon arriving one will realize it is comprised of thousands of smaller jellyfish, swimming in a sea of tentacles and lights.
This piece is interactive and climbable with a large viewing platform in the “belly of the jelly,” thirty feet in the air, where one can look out on the playa, viewing art and Burning Man from a bird’s eye view. The sculpture seeks to challenge the visitor’s sense of perception, and how things are not always what they seem.
BRC Historic Landmark Plaques
The plaques look like any historic marker. They are mounted on a steel pole in most instances.
A sea of swaying rods form an undulating field rising high above your head and falling like the plasma pulled in all directions by the phenomenal magnetic forces found on the surface of our sun.
By day a field of mirrors reflect and intensify the sun’s natural beauty and power creating a maze of ever-changing light to explore, push through and play within. At sunset everything transforms. The field morphs, bursting into a sea of light reacting to movement and mimicking the fluid almost pulsing nature of the sun’s corona.
Like in the chromosphere, a magnetic sunspot has informed the pattern of rods, creating patches of pure brightness and areas as mysterious as the inner working of this great star. Zones of tranquillity where the world outside has been blocked out, enable you to lie in a sea of energy, life and light.
Swirling lights blur the line between playa and art breaking down the boundaries of this once unfathomable celestial being.
A gigantic 30′ spinning wheel with posed human skeletons mounted on its inner edge, Charon is fully powered by a minimum of 12 people working in unison. Participants are invited to pull a series of 6 ropes which cause the wheel to rotate progressively faster. When the rope pullers are coordinated enough to get the wheel spinning at the correct speed, a strobe is activated, revealing the skeletons’ animation. The animation tells the story of Charon, the mythological gondolier and ferryman of Hades who carried the souls of the recently departed across the river Styx, the last right of passage on the way to the afterlife. This piece debuted at Burning Man, 2011.
Cosmic Space Worm
The Cosmic Space Worm is a pedal-powered art installation that consists of five adult tricycles linked together with a segmented aluminum worm on top. It will have an industrial and robotic look, yet will also be very organic with the way it moves. It will be illuminated through holes cut into the aluminum skin, as well as a row of spikes along its back. Its eyes will glow brightly and its jaw will be articulated.
The idea behind this installation is to create a giant, strange looking creature that needs the power of the people in order to come to life.
Dance For The Dawn
Dance For The Dawn is a ritual in an eye of harmonically dancing hands, that symbolize unity and invite to join the upcoming.
The Daruma is a Japanese doll used for intention and goal setting. The Daruma is designed to be impossible to knock over, and is modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma. This art installation will consist of a 6′ tall, bright red Daruma doll. Most of the Daruma will be painted bright red, with the exception of its “eye section” and “belly.” On its “belly,” the Chinese/Japanese Kanji words “福入” (“enter good fortune”) will be painted in gold as a tribute to traditional Japanese Daruma dolls.
Black Rock City citizens will be given the chance to dot in one of the Daruma’s eyes during intention setting ritual ceremonies. Those who learn of the Daruma’s true purpose will be moved to think through goals they would like to achieve. They are reminded, through the ritual of painting one of the Daruma’s eyes, of their commitment to work towards the goals they have set.
The project consists of a dome of imposing scale with protruding pipes, enabling viewers to view their entire surroundings in separate frames at a distance and focus on a single frame at close proximity. The whole structure has a reflective, metallic surface that absorbs its surroundings and allows the structure to partially dissolve into the landscape. The curves of the dome and pipes however, distort the reflections that bounce off the structure giving the user an augmented view of the surrounding environment.
An interactive LED system brings the project to life and turns the structure into a hub of celebration during night hours. The lighting together with a specifically designed soundscape allow the user to emerge into a vivid sensory experience of emotion and technology.
Efflorescence built by the Blazin’ Lily Gals is an other worldly space garden. The project will feature 13 foot tall metal flowers that shoot balls of fire high into the sky.
Field of Fairies
Field of Fairies will have 30 Fairies on the playa covering an area of about 120’x160.’ Each Fairy is unique with a different voice and face. She will be 14″ high on a 78″ pole. She is powered with a solar panel, and contains a Raspberry Pi Zero, LED’s, a small speaker, and motion and light sensors. The Fairies may be a bit demanding at times.
Obedience builds a structure that ritual occupies. Ritual forms an inner framework to empower the individual. Obey our Fairies and they will help make one’s wishes come true.
Fire Ancestor is a sculpture of metal and fire constructed of short horizontal pipes that twist up like a dust devil captured in a moment of steel.
13′ tall and sitting atop a rotating base, it awaits the participant. A radical ritual will bring it to life, spinning, echoing the sounds of our ancestors and ultimately erupting in a torrent of flame.
Fire Spinner is a steel mechanical wheel 13′ tall, it has 2 steel baskets that hold wood.
Those baskets are set on fire, the wheel is then set in motion via a 20′ long drive shaft and a hand crank mechanism. Fire Spinner is inspired from watching people spinning Poi, it is an interpretation of that art form. Black Rock City Participants will have the opportunity to spin the wheel via the crank mechanism.
Flight of Illumination
Flight of Illumination has a footprint of 50′ in length and 50′ in width with a central sculpture of an opened blacksmithed jar, lifted towards the sky by a few Acolytes. Bursting forth from the jar are dragonflies, increasing in size and swooping up to a giant dragonfly perched upon a tall reed. Surrounding the central sculpture is a communal gathering space filled with smaller pieces from previous years’ projects to provide a more community driven ambiance.
Flora Resplendica consists of a fifteen foot tall wireframe teapot made of metal tubing, hung with all manner of garlands and covered in LED strips. Additionally, a pair of ten foot tall mushrooms stands on either side of the teapot, one with an off-white cap dotted with orange, pink and red, the other with a blue cap spotted with purple. Six shade-giving flowers surround the entire setup. The flowers include an African daisy, a blue dahlia, a yellow rose, a pink rose, a multi-colored rose, and a rainbow lotus. Everything, including the flowers and mushrooms, is lit up at night to create an island of light. The center of the teapot is a climbable tower, allowing Burners to climb to the viewing platform on top to see the mushrooms and flowers from above. Glow in the dark messages will be painted on the tops of the mushrooms and flowers to be viewed from atop the teapot at night.
Gummy Bear Pyramid
This is a 12ft tall, 4-sided pyramid made out of over 100,000 hand-cast gummy bears, acrylic, and metal.
This gummy bear pyramid began as an idea for a light installation using found objects. In time it has transformed into a kind of time machine. A place that invites you back into an illuminated fort of nostalgia.
HEARDT is a highly interactive customized piano encompassed by a 3D heart structure which connects music and light. Participants create light pulses within the heart depending on what they play on the piano keyboard.
HEARDT is bringing a piano to Black Rock City. A piano that can play beautiful music, that can stir emotions circulating inside Participants and viewers alike and bring visual light to the room and beyond.
Through this interaction, the art piece will become what it should be – a bridge between reality and emotional storms happening somewhere deep inside a person, which can’t be described as tangible or bound. It can be as simple as touching a few keys or as complex as composing a song or playing an étude. The melodies and light that come from HEARDT engage both the player and the audience, bringing about a shared art experience. Through this unique platform, audio and visual emotions allow for a collective experience – showcasing the light in all hearts.
According to Census, every year more and more Burners come from an Hispanic background, and Spanish is the second most spoken language on the playa. Hispatext celebrates Hispanic involvement in the Burning Man community by lighting up the desert sky with the lyrics of the most representative songs from the most populated countries in Latin America: Brasil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. The playlist has been selected online by Latin American Burners themselves.
House of doG
House of doG is a chapel honoring the animal companions who have become an integral part of our lives, both past and present. Styled in the manner of a chapel one can find on the side of the street in the Chihuahuan Desert with Dia de los Muertos design, House of doG is a space to remember, pray, and give thanks for our beloved animal friends. Here, much like the Temple, people can participate by posting or writing about their animal relationship, confer and share stories with other travelers to this sacred site, or sip on some tequila in remembrance. Mexican culture is heavily laden with honoring and celebrating the lives of the past that came before to create what the present. It is also heavily Catholic, and to add an absurd twist the saints that will watch over this space will have the bodies of humans, but the heads of animals, as if St. Francis of Assisi became so in tune with them he became one.
House of Enlightenment
House of Enlightenment is a hexagonal structure with a sculpted wooden frame beckons, half pagoda, half lenticular cloud supported by curved columns rising 20-feet above the Playa. It goes dark, pulses & glows again.
A central, pew-like hexagon with devotional texts is an invitation to kneel. The open texts contain series of colored dots in rows, corresponding to colored buttons. Pressed in sequence, lights darken, then begin to rise up the columns.
Turning pages, pressing buttons, each page a ritual of motion necessary to light the shrine. For each ‘ritual’ the lights respond differently. Participants each control 1/6 of the lights. Working together, the intricacy of pattern increases. Combining sequences unlocks more colors & patterns.
While not intended to represent any one form of worship, it contains elements of many. Faith, religion & spirituality are all related, a veneration of the source of the light that allows us to see the Universe around us.
Hurry Up Slowly
Hurry Up Slowly is a wooden snail, big enough for participants to enter through the snail body into the snail space inside the shell. It consists of two main forms joined together; the snail body and the snail shell. The whole structure is open and lets daylight and wind through while offering a shifting pattern of partly shade.
The snail is a universal form, that to us, symbolizes the slowness of consensus democracy. In our community, Freetown Christiania, decisions are made in consensus. From our experience, in order to make consensus work in a community, you need to slow down, be flexible and open.
The inner snail space is meant as a room for contemplation and cooperation. It is meant to initiate and inspire a sense of community feeling. A hands on experience of consensus, on a mental, physical, and spiritual level through workshops.
IN CASE: A UKE
What if our public infrastructure was built to respond to the emotional needs and inner crises of its citizens? Distributed throughout the playa are a few highly visible red cabinets modeled and finished in the style of pre-war, cast-iron emergency call boxes that provide immediate ukulele access.
Incinerator for Obsolete Resentments
The philosophy of this piece is to offer an opportunity to dismiss currently held resentments as well as obsolete resentments. Old resentments can consume large amounts of life force just in the act of holding them in a stuck clenching pattern. This participatory installation will offer a safe and sacred space for pilgrims to be invited to shed obsolete patterns of all kinds. where in our world are we invited to behave this way? Usually these emotions are held invisibly on purpose, or else surface in unconscious ways.
This altar provides a permissive environment to expose oneself, privately or publicly, and even be encouraged to go deeper into exploring and letting go of resentments or attachments, things we once needed as coping mechanisms, but are now obsolete, yet we may never have purged them from our brain’s hard drive. Time to clear space for new healing, new life force and space for new inspirations and ways of being in the world.
“Interspecies Communication,” is an interactive kinetic-musical-sculpture of metal birds and fish, and was inspired by the idea of spontaneous group behavior. From the unprompted assembly of molecules that led to life, to the behavior of social communities, the ability for an individual to react to change through the influence of those around it contributes to a spontaneous behavior of a larger group without a single leader.
As Participants climb onto the sculpture and cause it to move and to sound, their influence on each other, in combination with the sense of interspecies communication inherent in causing the bird to sing, creates a spontaneous ritual behavior that leads to group cohesion. Like a bird murmuration and a school of fish, the forms of the sculpture (made up of smaller bird and fish forms) hint at the remarkable ability of many individuals to maintain cohesion as a group in highly uncertain environments and with limited, noisy information.
La Victrola is a 30-foot tall wood and steel sculpture celebrating the music of a bygone era. Built by a community of volunteer artists at American Steel Studios in Oakland California, its period details,
musical curation, and live performances stand as organic counterpoints to modern digital culture. La Victrola entertains and educates the public by playing crackly forgotten recordings from the early 1900s, a time of great innovation in jazz, blues, bluegrass, and country & western. On select evenings, La Victrola’s cabaret stage hosts period appropriate vaudeville and music performances transporting participants back in time.
Light Years Away
Light Years Away is a naturally and supernaturally inspired interactive sculpture. It is a representation of the boundary between the plane of existence and that which lies beyond. That plane is punctuated by a symbol of a powerful natural force, the vortex. This vortex is a doorway through which one can send their thoughts and prayers. It is a shrine, an altar, an homage to spirituality and the rituals that connect us.
Light Years Away has a powerful presence. It is tall and covers a large space. It is geometry, numerology, spirituality, chaos, and nature. It is an homage to the vortex and a harnesser of its mighty power. It is a vessel for hope and grief. Through it one can confess and pray. One can remember and forget. One can whisper a secret or yearn for release. It is a tool for all. It is a tool for many. It is a doorway for all the sadness. For all the hope. It is for us to wield, and for us to revel in, as it is both a doorway to the other side and a doorway into ourselves.
Macchina Naturale (formerly called Industree)
Macchina Naturale (Natural Machine) is a large kinetic wind sculpture reminiscent of a whimsical machine from a bygone era. Industrial elements blend with an organic tree-like form to create an amalgamation of the man-made and natural worlds. With their canopy of motion, light, and shadow, large horizontal paddle wheels create a contemplative Zen-like space. As our ecosystems are increasingly under assault, may this environmentally interactive sculpture be a reminder of our need to work with, rather than against, nature.
Magnetic Waltz is an interactive kinetic display based on ferrofluid (a magnetic liquid) which invites Participants to explore the bewildering interplay of magnetics, fluid mechanics, and gravity. The ferrofluid dances and twirls, choreographed via hidden electronically-controlled magnets. As participants dance in front of the piece, it responds to their movements. Ferrofluid is a magical substance which inspires participants to take a closer look and question their perceptions. What is it made of? Why does it ooze and form those intricate labrynthian patterns? How can it seem to defy gravity? Is it alive? Will it be my friend?
The Phage’s mission is to bring the joy of science to the Playa. As a scientist, peering into a microscope and observing a phenomenon for the first time inspires child-like wonder and curiosity. We hope that Magnetic Waltz evokes similar feelings.
Phase I: colossal woman (18′ tall) striding across the playa in an interpretation of classical Korean Hanbok robes. Her body, hair and clothing are made out of natural, burnable materials, including coal. Participants can engage with her more by entering a small ‘mine shaft’ door in her dress. This takes folks to a coal-seam inspired room presenting a panorama of a Carboniferous rainforest. Letters about hope for the future of Appalachia (written during the February 2017 Frostburn Regional) are featured. At night, LEDs illuminate the entire piece.
At dusk and dawn, a 20 minute film edit of the film “Margaret” (1990) by John McCormick will be projected, featuring stories from the life of a Korean-American kid thriving in Appalachia. (Preview here: https://youtu.be/mOxy18EJOE8 ).
Phase II: the installation is set on fire by a man wearing large orange angel wings at dawn on Saturday. A steel frame remains, suspending a life-sized, angelic woman.
Methuselah is a 20′ metal sculpture of the world’s oldest tree. The tree’s bark is steel, patinated to blue, brown & white, and seams of glass reveal propane flames within the trunk, reflected in a mirror below. The tree’s roots form benches on which Burners can congregate.
Ancestry and evolution are central themes for our work, whose namesake’s rings and branches bore witness to the entire span of recorded human history. Great trees gave their limbs and leaves as axles, paper, bows, hulls and roofs, and held space and time for our ancestors’ radical rituals.
Black Rock City contains many altars of dance and ecstasy, and many more of learning and relaxation, but the city provides comparatively few spaces for contemplation and remembrance.
Circular spaces, lone trees and eternal flames are all strong ritualistic symbols and joining them in Methuselah helps to dislocate Participants from the frenzy of present day time and re-anchors them in the still time of mythology.
A 30′ tall representation of Múcaro, a wise and woody owl. He comes to Black Rock City as the mascot of Puerto Rico and as a testament to the wisdom of all our teachers, the people who (hoo!) inspired us. NiNO is dedicating Múcaro to one teacher in particular in Puerto Rico: his mom, Mrs. Hilda Alicea, who taught for more than 45 years inspiring young people to work hard and go for their dreams.
This piece is for people to enjoy and have fun. To be transported again, to have a sense of adventure. Participants enter and exit through an opening under one of the wings. Inside the body is a cozy space with high ceilings and a single spiral staircase that journeys through childhood memories. The walls are set-designed to take them back in time and travel through school years as they climb. At the height of the stairs are two ladders for access to and from the top. It is here where they find the focal point – a sweeping view of the playa through Múcaro’s giant eyes that move with its head as it rotates.
Suspended 20 feet above the Playa, NOETICA looks solid and imposing. The artwork evokes universal themes and flows from one portion of the sculpture to another. Upon nearing, it becomes clear that the piece is in sinuous and seductive motion, and that the movements are interconnected from cube to cube; just as ideas, originally thought of as fixed and immutable, become fluid and linked with cooperation and communication. Viewers participate in creating this movement, and interact with the piece by working together to move the smaller joystick, causing the larger piece to move in a similar fashion. Coordinated movement is rewarded with fire and lighting effects. At night, poofers dance in the sky as golden images move on the playa surface below.
Of a Temporary Nature
Fairy shrimp are strange, almost alien looking crustaceans, with eyes on posts, legs like fans, and antennae resembling tree branches. Stylized giants appear as a ghostly dance of familiar yet mysterious shapes.
From a distance the forms entice participants to wonder, and drawing nearer, the shapes may appear as intriguing possibilities of what they represent, Branchinecta sp. The fairy shrimp are constructed of rip-stop nylon, and float affixed to bamboo poles. The individual sculptures are around 12′ long and 4′ in diameter. They represent the very real and very tiny creatures underfoot. They emerge here to dance in unison with the wind. When there is no wind, there is rest, and maybe some slight shade. Here is existence of a temporary nature – as fairy shrimp: to eat, to dance, to mate, and to enjoy each other’s company before our pool dries up, again.
PARAGATE is an 11′ tall mirrored portal which offers citizens an opportunity for self reflection and contemplation. Approaching PARAGATE one first encounters a 24′ diameter ring of 64 solar lights defining a protected ritual space. At the center of this space resides the PARAGATE portal, a cylindrical steel gateway covered on all surfaces with a mosaic of 16,000 small, irregularly, cut mirrors. Moving closer, Black Rock City citizens find their mirror reflections multiplied and fractalized by the convex outer surface of the portal.
Entering the convex inner portal, citizens find their reflection rearranged and compressed creating a cubist self-portrait. Inside the portal a hallucinatory audio collage designed to complement the citizens’s mirror mosaic reflection runs nonstop during the event. An oracle offers the participant his or her appropriate ritualistic suggestion. On top of the portal 3 wind vanes turn in opposite directions creating a flurry of irrelevant motion signifying nothing.
We are bringing our dream to life and that dream is a 40 foot tall flamingo! Inspired by Don Featherstone’s classic, Phoenicopterus Rex will feature climbable legs and a sitting area on the back of this massive lawn ornament.
As an art piece, Phoenicopterus Rex is a physical manifestation of Americana pop-kitsch meets modern industry: all bubblegum pink, fiberglass and steel. It aims to make the familiar absurd, exciting participants with the iconic image and then drawing them in so that they may interact with the structure.
In its final installed stages, fake grass and a white picket fence will surround the flamingo, transforming the immediate space into a hosted experience. The piece will be lit by spotlights mounted to the surrounding picket fence, to be a beautiful pink beacon in the night.
The Pleiadian Oasis is a safe space for people in all phases of consciousness out in the deep playa. A constellation of sacred geometric structures is mapped out to mirror the stars of the Pleiades. This hazy cluster by the trash fence serves as a beacon calling all light workers, cosmic healers, mystical visionaries, desert philosophers and deep playa interdimensional travellers.
Pulsefield is an interactive open space where the movements of up to 50 participants are simultaneously tracked and used to generate rich video displays on the playa floor with correlated music. With multiple modes of operations and user-driven behavior, the experience is continuously changing.
Pyramid of the Dead
The Pyramid of the Dead is a structure comprised of individual “nichos”, artisanal hand made tin altars. The artworks displayed in the nichos are designed by different people from the Burner community, and offer respectful and personal tributes to deceased loved ones. The nichos are exhibited together, in the form of a pyramid and community altar. This is a deeply profound piece inspired by the day of the dead and the Mesoamerican architecture put in a completely new contemporary context while maintaining its deep meaning.
Reaching Through is a large metal kinetic sculpture, consisting of 5 tube like structures that flow up towards the sky in forms resembling coral or plants. It is made kinetic by the use of suspension springs taken from trucks. The suspension springs are placed about half way up each of the tubular structures, allowing the top pieces of the sculpture to sway and move in the wind or when touched by people. Lights shining up from within the sculpture along with the moving parts create an ethereal essence. The natural forms rise up from the playa, reaching through, and swaying in the wind. This piece is about the organized functionality of living organisms, in contrast with the disorganization and sometimes seemingly chaotic physical world considered to be reality.
As you approach the Shibari Sanctuary what appeared to be a red mountain from afar will turn not solid as you thought, but made up of a network of intricately tied red rope. It’s made using Kinbaku, Japanese rope bondage technique. There are two different natural highs to explore here. One inwards and one outwards. This place is one of bondage and freedom. Where you may find peace in a feeling of deep confinement, or explode outwards towards the sky. You may be surprised where you feel most free.
Solipmission - An Initiation Into Future Realities
A small crew of artists will be locked up inside a black box for the entire week of the event. They will create a virtual Burning Man on the inside walls without ever viewing the outside, just based on what visitors tell them.
Step Forward transmits the principles of consciousness and neighborly love, increased through Art.
Euterpe is a giant teenage girl puppet who walks and talks, interacting with Burning Man’s participants to learn from them and to, tenderly, teach them her values.
A young girl dreams of a better world in which everybody loves each other. One day she wakes up in an unknown place where she doesn’t really know if she is awake or in a wonderful dream. She watches in amusement all that takes place around her at the time she gets involved in Burning Man’s experience.
Beauty lies within the Burnt Forest.
Sysimetsä is a memorial for the fires that destroyed Lake County, as well as a beloved art space by the name of Ravens Landing back in 2015. Participants walk through a burnt forest with trees that stand erected from the playa with huge ravens perched upon their branches. Pieces of burnt metal and scraps are hand crafted instruments of sound, bringing the forest back to life through interactivity. The sound sensitive lighting will dance to the beat of our hearts. This place is a temple for the old and new, a sacred piece of nature that is awoken to hold space to give thanks to what’s been given and what’s been taken. In the belief that change is the only constant grace given to Humankind, to embrace it in all ways is the only way to brighten our evolution. The philosophy of Sysimetsä is to Experience, Let Go, Accept, Be Thankful, and Recreate the world you want to live in.
Tara mechani is a figurative sculptural installation that fuses representational aspects of the female Buddha, Tara, with future characteristics of the female robot in a contemporary way.
The idea is to create a “being” that encompasses both the past and the future, melding worlds of ancient wisdom ideology and philosophy with future mechanics and technology.
Its interaction and expression urges viewers to contemplate the other-worldly union of these two compelling and guiding forces usually at opposition now intertwined.
Temple of Gravity
Gravity is a central component of all of Zachary Coffin’s massive, larger-than-life interactive kinetic sculptures and the only force that he believes he can truly have faith in. In 2003, Zachary Coffin built the Temple of Gravity as an expression of the year’s Burning Man theme – Beyond Belief – and this year, we’re bringing the massive 180,000 pound sculpture back for Radical Ritual.
The Temple of Gravity is a 60-foot diameter steel dome with 5 arms, each arm supports a suspended granite stone slab (which weighs ~15,000 pounds) and is anchored by a granite base slab.
The 11 Benches of Sitting Man
The 11 Benches of Sitting Man will be spread throughout Black Rock City. Each bench is different. 1-10 are based on the 10 Principles. #11 is Radical Ritual, a nondenominational sacred space. This evolving art project is dedicated to providing a reflective resting space.
The Dragonfly Mating Ritual
The “Dragonfly Mating Ritual” represents sensual togetherness. The deeper meaning of love that can be found through the ritual of mating. An act essential to the survival of species and an honoring to the sacred masculine and feminine. Amassed in a beautiful fire breathing lotus flower representing the purity in body, speech and mind that can be found in the intimacy between two consensual individuals. Sculptures of 30 mating dragonflies, in their ritualistic heart shape, swirl around in the air from rotating mobile arms surrounding the observation deck. Black Rock citizens have an interactive carnival style playground that represents soul level transformation through the ritual of mating.
The Dung Bug
Guided by the sun, the Dung Bug will adventure across the dust on its daily ritual of spawning new friendships and shared experiences by utilizing a unique and a highly interactive human gerbil ball propulsion system.
Similar to a children’s tricycle, the 10′ diameter Dung Ball is rolled forward by the walking weight of participants riding inside and is steered by an experienced bug pilot operating a pivot between the front and back wheels. The tessellated surface of the Dung Ball isn’t exactly round and in combination with kinetic legs the bug has an articulated and lifelike movement as it clunkily moves along the playa. At night, the bug will utilize pixel-mapped LED lighting and starcaster lights to illuminate its travel path and inner workings. The starcaster lights are a nod to how wild dung beetles use the moon, stars, and Milky Way to safely travel in the dark.
The Flower Tower
The Flower Tower is a 70 foot tall metal structure ornately decorated by thousands of painted metal flowers, some of which will blow fire.
Twelve Gates are walked in a Burning Man Initiation Ritual at “The Gates”. Each Gate holds an initiatory experience. Each Gate is guarded by a great spirit, from the Dust of the Playa Earth to the great spirit of Transformation in the guise of the Phoenix; spirits evoked to stand at each, to initiate into the renewal we all seek when we come here. Each Gate displays painted panels hanging from overhead, displaying imagery & words, instructions for what the initiate is to do at that Gate as each Gate bestows an ever-greater gift through the completion of these sacred motions. We need initiation to heal. We need conscious initiations. And those don’t really exist in our culture. So here is an ancient mystery school ritual brought to the modern age. Here calling you sit, “The Gates.”
The Reflection Altar
What is revolutionary art? Revolutionary art is the manifestation of visions and dreams with the intent of a further integrated, fulfilled self and society. It is the practice of inspired action to progress beyond what we are, in to what we desire to become. This art piece has been created to facilitate the introspection of one’s self and the collective whole. How can we gather inspiration from the darkest, most desolate and corrupt aspects of our reality’s condition, and transform it in to the foundation of our own innovative revolution?
The Shrine of La Santisima Muerte
La Santisima Muerte: the Lady of Shadows, the Sacred Death, the Skinny Lady. Looking out from her Shrine, she rejects none, for all will come to her in the end. She represents the universality of death that generates a fundamental equality amongst all of human kind. Her Shrine is covered in symbols and imagery of our innovation and folly, our greatness of spirit and failures of character, our precious love and our violent hate, for around the core truth of our shared humanity lie the challenges, choices, will and imagination that create and define the individuality of our human spirit. Arrayed before her, six heads of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, the Bringer of Knowledge, hold high the lanterns that dispel the darkness of ignorance and concealment, illuminating the path to discovery.
An elegant, 20′ tall body rises out of the desert floor, turning ever towards the new day, offering the hope and inspiration that comes with the rising of the sun at the end of a long, dark night.
This solemn figure comes from an ancient race of beings known as the Solacii, who have observed the entirety of human history with deep empathy – feeling each exuberant joy and aching pain of our species. This individual has made itself visible to humans in this moment in time to offer both comfort and inspiration.
The mysterious being is clothed in an intricate dress crafted from personal garments and heirlooms gathered from the community – symbolizing the collective memories, stories, and experiences of the human race. With wise old hands, the Solacii opens its many layered dress to reveal a refuge for weary & curious travelers. Both cozy and cathedral-like, the inner sanctuary offers a space for solitude and intimate gatherings, a home for meditation, deep conversation, and personal ritual.
The form of the Temple begins with life out of balance. Throughout the Sierra Nevada, species of pine trees are dying, compromised by a bark beetle which has proliferated due to human interruption of the cycle of forest fires, and climate change. The material of these trees, donated to our project, harvested and milled, becomes the basic building block of the Temple. Interlocking timber pieces in formation become a Temple that is both cloud and spire; inverted pyramidal columns suggest the negative-space of a forest canopy, simultaneously supporting a vast pagoda-like ‘cloud’ framework which in turn supports a central spire. In this way disorder gives way to harmony, and a group of dying trees is re-ordered into a cathedral of timbers stretching toward the sky; filtered sun rays will illuminate the intricate work of hundreds of hands building in unison; a collaboration that knits together a community as roots intertwine to give a healthy forest stability.
The Temple of Awareness
Temples offer environments for us to immerse ourselves into an unworldly place of harmony and peace. The Temple of Awareness is an organic form, similar to a pine cone. Seen from above, it evokes aspects of a bloomed lotus. The Temple is a 13-sided dome structure that is 35 ft. in diameter at the base. It has seven levels that reach 35 ft. high, each level with projecting decorative wings encircling it.
From a distance, the wings create a feeling of lightness, while the dome as a whole conveys a rooted presence. Participants enter the Temple through one of thirteen sizable inverted “V” openings. Inside is a welcoming, vaulted, airy interior defined by a series of shrinking, concentric circles soaring overhead. The dome top is left uncovered to allow for the participant’s connection with the cosmos. The open interior design incorporates hundreds of shelves lining every wall, as well as several freestanding sub-altars that provide many niches and ledges for objects of remembrance.
The Thing We Share
The Thing that We Share isn’t a thing at all. It’s an interactive environment, a social sculpture where participants explore a magical Artefact that reveals the place where “I” turns into “We.”
The Tomb of Nahtaivel
Ancient stories tell of the Leviathan, believed to be a great beast, a demon or one of the Four Princes of Hell. We believe that this branch of lore represents the individual struggle between right and wrong, physically manifested in the real world. Sometimes facing personal problems can feel like you’re battling a great beast. This temple is about the external and internal forces that bring people together to create the world in which we all participate whether it be good or evil.
The very definition of ritual implies history and repetition. The visual telling of history is an ancient practice older than written lore. We want to encourage people to share their own histories and share their own battles within this space.
THUNDERBIRDS is three towering figures constructed in mixed media assemblage. In name the sculptures reference the mythological beings of Native American lore. In concept they speak to the universality of humankind viewed through our collective stories.
A gathering of human spirits, the weathered rusty steel wings evoke the passage and transience of time. Sound elements conjure a sense of primordial place; the dry lakebed, the playa. Lighting for this installation is a simple circle of illumination, an ethereal cocoon; an open invitation for the continuation of the participatory experience into the night.
In some of the traditional stories, the thunderbirds number four, representing north, south, east, and west. Here there will be only three, with a place delineated for the viewer to join the assembly and become the fourth entity.
Time Machine Elevator
The Time Machine Elevator is a working time machine that sends people to the past in order to correct their future. The artist doesn’t want to ruin the surprise, by disclosing his proprietary time travel method, but he does say “those who find it are in for a treat”.
A placid face of segmented, polished metal, eyes calm and lips pursed, supported by a neck armature containing two volumes, a diamond and a heart. Behind the mouth, inside the curve of the face is a diamond shaped combustion chamber and below it, just off the ground, a heart shaped bellows. A rod protrudes behind the head and joins to a levered handle, anchored to the ground so that a person acting on the handle will cause the bellows to expand and contract, forcing air through the combustion chamber and out of the mouth. Hot sparks from the burning wood will issue out on the exhale and the stoked combustion chamber will glow with heat, shining through the seams and incised writing on the face.
Torch song is a kinetic fire art sculpture. Nine flames move synchronously along the 15′ high structure, creating a choreography of fire, music, and movement.
Totem Orchestra is three 6-9 foot tall mixed media interactive sound sculptures. Each individual totem represents one of the three elements of air, earth and water which will be immersed in the fire element of the Burning Man environment. The shrines are comprised of repurposed and originally fabricated traditional instruments from around the world, integrated into a totemic structure, with each totem being characterized by the origin of the sound waves; a column of air (aerophones, i.e. pipe organ) the vibration of the instrument body (idiophone, i.e. bells, cymbals) and tensioned strings (chordophone, i.e. harp). A sculptural space is provided in this work that is made kinetic with the input of the Burning Man participants. It is the instinctual and primal communicative aspect of music that Totem Orchestra taps into in order to draw out people’s desire for improvisational expression.
Tree of Ténéré
An enormous lifelike tree, Ténéré offers shade to wanderers, adventure to climbers, and transcendent community to those gathered beneath its 15,000 LED leaves.
Like its namesake – considered the most isolated tree on Earth until its destruction in 1973 – Ténéré serves as a place of refuge and ritual for desert wanderers. Standing more than three stories tall, it beckons to passersby with the promise of shade and adventure, conjuring spontaneous communities out of desert sand and sun.
At night, LEDs hidden within each leaf begin to glow. The 15,000 leaves form a dome-shaped “canvas of light” that towers over the playa, spanning more than a thousand square feet. Participants lying under the tree experience sublime light shows set to ambient music or live performance. And they directly influence the canopy lights through their sounds and biorhythms, creating moments of transcendent oneness with each other and with nature.
UKI - Utility Kinetic Insect
Visually UKI is inspired by the resilient biological life in the harsh Australian outback. Stimulated by her immediate environment, UKI senses and responds, pulsating in rhythmic machinations and provoking interactive engagement.
Stimulating the senses of all around her as UKI demands engagement. Being born of both the biological and mechanical, her wings unfold exposing an illuminated underbelly whilst her body and limbs pulsate rhythmically.
Ursa Mater (Mother Bear)
Ever protective of her cubs, this mother grizzly bear looks out to her surroundings. She may have noticed intrusion, prey or just the wind. Ursa Mater (Mother Bear) is a succession in the life of Ursa Major, the standing grizzly bear brought to the playa by Mr and Mrs Ferguson in 2016.
Once again, the coat of this bear will be made up from pennies standing on end, her cub’s fur will also, but their coats will be made up from new pennies. These bears will be made up from over 200,000 penny coins from the US and Canada. The installation will be 12 feet high and the same in width.
Mother Bear is an example of a mother’s protection for her children. She is strong and warm. As with Ursa Major, this Ursa Mater is an example of the majesty of a grizzly bear. Dangerous when provoked but vulnerable to the fear and greed of humans.
Your own, personal Jesus
This piece consists of three different “churches”. Each is clearly different in design: one is influenced by the Christian faith; another by Islam; and the third is a modern interpretation of a more ancient, more feminine belief system. They are made of stone and wood, evoking the traditional images of faith that we have become accustomed to. All three are supported by platforms, allowing a single participant to look underneath them and even put their head up in to them, revealing a space of personal worship.
The insides of the micro-cathedrals are decorated in traditional fashion, with respect to each of their belief systems. Stained-glass windows adorn the walls. Music evocative of each faith plays softly over concealed speakers. But the traditional images of faith are replaced by words and images of a more inclusive world, asking the participant to re-evaluate their place in spiritual society