Desert Arts Preview 2017

  • Date and Time: June 11, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Format: null
  • Location:
    Gray Area Art & Technology Theater, 2665 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Desert Arts Preview is a special evening where artists will share the projects they plan to bring to the Burning Man event. Presenters will share their inspiration and hopes for these works in progress, giving the audience an exclusive window into their imagination and creative process. It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn how you can get involved and support these and other artists at the Burning Man event and year-round as we increasingly seek to create interactive, collaborative and community-generating works of art in cities around the world.

See our video playlist of the 2017 presentations here, divided up into individual presentations. Additional project details & calls for participation below:



Action Figure Family

Project Lead: Jallen Ricks

Description: Imagine walking across the desert and seeing a set of colorful shapes in the distance. Drawing closer, you discover they are life-size statues, and the closer you get the more you realize they are covered in small toys. Not just any toys: hundreds of action-figures! They’re so densely populated that these “heroes” seem to create the larger statues by their magical convergence. On even closer inspection, you encounter moving parts, secret compartments, and activities to engage and play with.

Project’s needs:

Help celebrate Jallen’s 20th year attending Burning Man by contributing to the Action Figure Family! Jallen is letting go of his formidable action figure collection and transforming it into art for the Playa. He and his crew will be assembling the heroes in Palm Springs this summer, so please stop by and join them covering their characters with action figures and toys!



Project Lead: Peter Hazel

Description: Bloom, a four-story tall steel and glass interactive Jellyfish, being built at ArTech in Reno, NV.

Project’s needs:

We are looking for local, and regional volunteers to help bring Bloom to life, including help with transportation, and any on-Playa support available.



Project Lead: Peter Hudson

Description: 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. Onlookers 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. This 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.

Project’s needs:

Business Advice for Mini-Charon.


The Flower Tower

Artist: Kevin Clark
Project Lead: Michelle Ramatici

Description: 70-foot tall Gaudi-inspired steel tower covered in thousands of painted metal flowers created by volunteers. 35 flower arrangements will blow fire. Participants will be able to climb to a viewing platform at a 20-feet height.

Project’s needs:

Volunteers, lighting specialists, fire-effect specialists, transportation support.


Gummy Bear Pyramid

Project Lead: Dicapria with the Imaginal Cells Artist Collective

Description: 14-foot tall pyramid made out of gummy bears, built by a bunch of crazies in Oakland, California.

Project’s needs:

Volunteers, Metal Workers, Crowd-Funding Manager/assistance, Mold Making/Casting assistance.


Interspecies Communication

Project Lead: Ela Lamblin

Description: A Kinetic musical-sculpture consisting of an 18-foot high by 38-foot wide counterbalanced flapping bird skeleton which is held aloft on uprights supported by a 10-foot by 49-foot metal whale. Build location is Vashon Island, WA. Build schedule: April through August.

Project’s needs:

Looking for engineering help, technical advice for lighting and electrical supply.


La Victrola

Project Lead: Shing Kong

Description: La Victrola is a 35-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 the digital saturation of modern culture. With build sessions on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, the La Victrola crew is deep in the process of fundraising and prototyping to make possible the gramophone box and cabaret details that would complete the project for Burning Man.

Project’s needs:

We are looking for people experienced in fundraising, social media outreach, graphic design, structural engineering, and on-playa cooking. We are also looking for builders of all backgrounds. Thank you!


Margareta Appalachia

Project Lead: Mike Eros (Orange Mike)

Description: A burnable 22-foot wooden sculpture of a woman in a flowing traditional Korean dress encrusted with coal, stands amid Appalachian hills, hoisting a peace sign. Behind, the train of her dress becomes angular, representing mountaintop-removal, and has a mineshaft embedded in it, leading to an interior sound/video/silk installation of a coal deposit with a Carboniferous rainforest growing out of it. The project is based in Houston, TX, with team members also from Berkeley, CA and Richland, WA.

Project’s needs:

We need an ARCHITECT or Structural Engineer to approve or critique our design for safety! We would love to find a VIDEOGRAPHER to document our build, and/or a video editor to edit down an existing documentary about the young Korean/Appalachian woman on whom this project is based. We may need help (or advice or funding) for TRANSPORTATION from Houston, TX.


Methuselah V.02

Majorelle Arts
Project Lead: Misha Naiman

Description: Methuselah is a 1:1 scale model of the oldest living tree on earth, a bristlecone pine tree in Eastern California. We will be constructing the internal structure out of mild steel and the bark out of recycled square tubing, patinated flat sheet and stained glass. The trunk will have a single propane flame effect suspended within it which will be reflected off a large convex mirror in it’s roots. We will be hanging an aerial rig point on one of our low hanging branches.

Project’s needs:

At this time we would love some engineering and technical advice!



Flaming Lotus Girls
Project Lead: Gregg Adams

Description: NOETICA is comprised of two distinct, but structurally identical kinetic sculptures, each made of 144 interlocking movable stainless steel squares to form a tower of cubes. Participants move the small sculpture (8ft x 8ft x 10ft high) to control the motion and flame effects of the large sculpture (15ft x 15ft x 20ft high). NOETICA is being built at the Box Shop in San Francisco now.

Project’s needs:

Flaming Lotus Girls is always welcoming volunteers in a variety of roles for building the project and playa support. Opportunities include Metal Fabrication, Flame Effects, Electronics, Hydraulics, Fundraising, Volunteer coordination and outreach, packing and LNT. We require a large crew on playa for fire safety as well. We are ready to welcome and train YOU to become a Flaming Lotus Girl!


Phoenicopterus Rex

Project Lead: Josh Zubkoff

Description: A Giant Flamingo. Overall the installation is 20-foot by 20-foot by 40-foot high. Body will be 20-foot long by 8-foot wide by 20-foot high, atop 20-foot high legs.

Project’s needs:

Looking for welders, structural engineering advice, and transportation support.



Project Lead: Brent Townshend

Description: 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 operation and user-driven behavior, the experience is continuously changing.

Project’s needs:

Pulsefield has an open API that supports adding new modes with some Java or Processing programming. It would be great to get the community to add new apps that can be run during BM!


The Temple

Leads: Marisha Farnsworth, Steve Brummond, Mark Sinclair

Description: The temple will be 100-foot wide by 70-foot tall. We are building at Pacific Pipe in Oakland every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Project’s needs:

We are looking for volunteers to help build the temple. There are many ways to plug in and we welcome people at all skill levels. To get involved, please fill out the volunteer form on our website.


Tree of Ténéré

Project Lead: Zachary Smith

Description: The Tree of Ténéré is new kind of canvas. Four stories tall and highly lifelike, the tree contains 25,000 LED leaves that form a stunning, enormous “light canvas” overhead. The tree structure is being built right now in SF and LA to support the weight of 60 climbers, while the interactive light art is being created by an open, global community of artists whose work with this new medium will astound and inspire you!

Project’s needs:

Ténéré is an open platform: we’re inviting artists and technologists around the world to utilize the 25,000 LED leaves and hidden sensors to create experiential light art for participants. If you’re interested in creating art with the Ténéré canopy, visit our website for a link to open source tools and APIs. This canvas belongs to everyone.


The Journey

Artist: Dan Reeves (Playa Name: Sparkplug)
Project Lead: Lee Hemingway

Description: The Journey is presented as an expression of the chromosomal double helix that is part of all life on Earth. This project comes alive as an ultra-sensory torus sculpture that encourages contemplation, interface, relationship, and wonder. Through tonal expressions, lighting design, and responsive technology, The Journey allows participants to work individually or in collaboration to actively change the immediate experience within and around the 42-foot diameter, 10-foot tall interlocking wood installation. Originally conceived by Dan Reeves in April 2016, and built by a worldwide community volunteer crew home-based out of San Diego.

Project’s needs:

Seeking playa volunteers and artist contributors.


Maya’s Mind

Artist: Mischell Riley (Playa Name: Phoenix Rising)

Description: Maya’s Mind is a large bust of Maya Angelou on top of 3 books, where you can walk into the back of her head. Maya’s Mind is a 15-foot tall, 7-feet wide sculpture of Maya Angelou, the African-American great poet. This sculpture will be a large bust placed on 3 books lying flat to create a stairway that you can walk up into Maya’s mind.

Project’s needs:

Graphic artist, transportation, generator.


The Puddletown Panorama

Artist: Dan Reeves (Playa Name: Sparkplug)
Project Lead: J. Claire Dean

Description: The Puddletown Panorama (PtP) is a mobile exhibit space dedicated to displaying stereo (3D) photography, using a unique, rotating, multi-station viewing device. For its inaugural outing at Burning Man 2017, it will feature the work of stereo-photographers created at the event over the last 20 years. The design of the PtP is inspired by two different Victorian stereoviewers. Built on a 14-foot by 7-foot platform, towed by a custom, scratch-built tow vehicle, also inspired by a historic car – it is currently under construction in Portland, Oregon.

Project’s needs:

We are actively looking for help with transportation to and from the playa, as well as materials and tools.


The Solacii

Artist: Tigre Bailando
Project Lead: Erica Ramos

Description: The Solacii is a 21-foot tall sculpture of an ancient being with many hands and faces, that opens into a private sanctuary for travelers to use as a home for meditation, intimate gatherings, and personal ritual.

Project’s needs:

Asking for garment donations (white/off-white/beige) that will make up the cloak of The Solacii.


Tara Mechani

Artist: Dana Albany

Description: Tara Mechani is a 15-foot tall metal figurative sculpture that fuses subtle references of the female Buddha Tara with future characteristics of the female robot. The idea is to create a “being” that encompasses both the past and future, melding worlds of ancient wisdom ideology with future mechanics and technology. Build schedule is daily at the Box Shop, San Francisco for the months of June, July, August.

Project’s needs:

Volunteers to assist with various tasks.



Artist: James Tyler

Description: Three towering figures. In name the artwork references the mythological beings of Native American lore; in concept the sculptures speak to the universality of human spirit viewed through our myriad stories across time and geography. These stories speak to all of us and remind us of our collective humanity.

Project’s needs:

Assistance with transportation from and returning to New York. Also support for adding solar-powered sound elements, as well as general volunteer support.


Torch Song

Artist: Hydrocarbon Collective
Project Lead: Matthew Gordon

Description: Torch Song is a 15-foot-high kinetic fire art sculpture in the shape of a double icosahedron. Each of the nine 8-foot-long edges has an independently actuated flame that moves from end to end. It will be synchronized to music.

Project’s needs:

On-playa volunteers wanted, especially those who would like to help with setup or strike, or who would like to become fire-safety certified. Also looking for help sourcing 100-pound propane tanks, and a large generator.


Ursa Mater

Artist: Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson
Project Lead: Lisa Ferguson

Description: Ursa Mater is a 12-foot tall grizzly bear sow sculpture posed in a sitting position. She will take up a footprint almost as wide as she is tall. Nestled into her front and back legs are her two cubs. The installation will be made of a steel skeleton with a body of styrofoam as the carving medium. We will use cement stucco as a coating to take on the over 200,000 pennies that give the impression of fur. The project is being built in Hayward at the Ferguson’s welding shop.

Project’s needs:

Bears need fur and these bears would appreciate your pennies for their fur. Patient penny layerers who love bears are invited to assist with completing the covering of the sculpture.


Vacant Spectator

Artist: Alejandra Charrabe

Description: An installation piece which is part of a final thesis architecture project at Syracuse University. Mainly consists of a 7-foot long by 8-foot tall by 4-foot wide wooden box recreating the Red-Light District in Amsterdam.

Project’s needs:

Volunteers, transportation, on-playa support.


Wings of Eos

Artist: Roxane Williams (Playa Name: Bounce)

Description: The Wings of Eos stand 4-foot by 6-foot and are composed of wood. Based on a Fibonacci spiral, they are symmetrical and appear heart-shaped. Handprint “feathers” become individual pieces of art as they are inscribed and decorated by participants at events leading up to the burn. A Tuesday morning sunrise processional to the Wings of Eos shrine, located in the Temple of the Golden Spike, features gossamer-clad women carrying and composing art from the negative space left behind during the laser-cutting of the “feathers.” Meditation and healing follow this ritual sunrise ceremony.

Project’s needs:

Please follow the Wings of Eos page on Facebook for information on build and feather decoration days.


Wishing Totem

Artist: Miguel Guzman (Playa Name: Migz)

Description: A futuristic totem made from recycled materials inspired by ancient cultures and mythology.

Project’s needs:

Transport and technical advice greatly appreciated. Volunteers welcome too.


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