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Aug 31st - Sept 7th


Nebulous Entity



Burning Man 1998
Man on 10' platform with haybales

  • Face: Blue outline with horns
  • Compound head with jawbones
  • Body: Blue outline and red inside
  • White wooden steps
  • Four wood spheres around Man
  • Sunday Burn, ignited by Crimson Rose who ignites a man who ignites the Man
  • Huge Magnesium burst

The art theme for 1998 was The Nebulous Entity. It wasn't necessarily about space, or the sky, but it was otherworldly.

The event experienced more moisture than many had seen at that time of year before. There was a drizzle of rain on several days, and Pepe's Opera was delayed for several hours until 3 am because of an afternoon downpour that left it difficult to move the sound system into place.

On Monday afternoon, a light drizzled slowed the departure process as people left the event site. The rain didn't stop until Tuesday morning, and upon light of day those left in camp were surrounded by water. Very little of the surface was dry enough to walk on, and shoes/boots covered with garbage bags became the de riguer fashion.

Read more in the 1998 Archive

The One Tree by Dan Das Mann in the Keyhole image DzM

Burning Man is not a spectacle/commodity that can be experienced passively. That's the real meaning behind the "No Spectators" tag: not to draw lines of exclusion, but to remind us of our mutual agreement to entertain each other. There is no "official" bandstand, just the vast empty stage of the desert, with no proscenium to separate the audience from the players. You are the show.
Stuart Mangrum - What is Burning Man 1998 Summer Newsletter
Marvel comics publishes X Force Vol. No. 75 March 1998
Welcome to the Exploding Colossal Man Shindig and Hullabaloo
"The word has been passed through underground channels, a gathering will take place in a burning river canyon. A celebration that will be be classified, quantified or commercialized. A millennial rave that will attract only those intrepid enough to brave a hostile and unforgiving climate."
  • Lost at Last
  • AWD
  • Mermen
  • DJ Christ Superstar
  • New York's Blackkat collective, The Army of Love, SPaZ and Arcane, Moontribe
Ticket prices: $65, $80, $100

There is no escaping the act that Burning Man has become a widely known phenomenon eager sought after and extensively covered by the international press, resulting in a controversial symbiotic relations between the media establishment and the Burning Man Project.

There are some who feel that the media's scrutiny has become too intense, and may participants have encountered disrespectful members of the media who thoughtlessly impinge upon the primary creed of Black Rock citizens - do nothing to interfere with another's immediate experience.

... we're going to try something a little different this year. Members of the media will be educated, manipulated, and initiated into the mystery that is Burning Man. There will be costuming and we will turn the eye of the camera on them for a change. Enough said. The resulting images will be put on display at Media Mecca, and we encourage you to stop by and visit our little exhibition.

Lee Gilmore, Double Agent Media Whore Black Rock Gazette Tuesday 09.01.98

In the vacant heart of the Wild West we will fashion a new world that's driven by necessity and fed from depths of passion that reside in every one of us. Our event is about immediacy: immediate physical need and immediate self-expression.

Darryl Van Rhey -- 1998 Winter Newsletter
The first Regional Burn, "Burning Man Texas" was held in June 1998 by George Paap. It had 30 attendees, and featured the burning of a straw man built on site. Burning Flipside (named by Melody Byrd in Prost's backyard) began in 1999.
This year will see changes and additions to Black Rock City. The most important change will be no main stage. This is not meant to discourage performers, but rather encourage collaboration between performers and theme camps and villages. Musicians and theater groups may bring their own stage or connect with a like-minded camp or village and coordinate a performance schedule. Acoustic performance will occur at our Café in central camp.
The Burning Man website is taken in house and the first Web Team is formed.

1998 was another year filled with struggle. Burning Man was not going to happen on the Hualapai Flat again.

Larry and Will returned to their ratty hotel room. After staring at a garden-variety hotel landscape painting on the wall, they decided the Man would return to the Black Rock Desert. It was, after all, THE home for Burning Man.

We’ve been working for a year planning this city. And if this were a normal event, the essential concern that would inform our design would be “well, how do we get the vendors in to sell enough ‘stuff’?” And the city would be completely organized around the act of consumption. But if you look at the city we created, it’s not organized that way at all. It’s organized around this notion of community, and sharing and giving to other people.

We have this big circle here. Then we’ve got the two village circles. And we thought, “Well wouldn’t that be neat to stand in your village and you look around and it’s just like the way it was back in 1986 when we got inspired, and we saw this circle of fire-lit faces you could see everybody gathered around this central thing that united us and was somehow was more powerful than we were.” So we thought we’d just duplicate that and then let people start interacting. If it doesn’t work, we’ll redesign it next year so it works better. But the sole reason we plan any of this to let this naturally occurring phenomenon of human interaction begin to live again in our world.

Larry Harvey’s 1998 Speech

Saturday September 5, 1998 5pm
Center Camp Stage – Black Rock City, NV

The Entity travels the playa, pushed by performers and participants, and is anchored in front of the Alien Abduction Chamber, where performers interact with participants, engaging them in various activities which drain them of all information. As soon as each person has been processed, they will be gently drawn out again and flushed, like roe, back into the surrounding space.
Theme - Nebulous Entity
There were 14 listed pirate radio stations on the playa in 1998.

Image courtesy Radio Free Burning Man

Mauricia Gandara, designer, and Bob Stahl, construction foreman, created a floating world of spirits, people, and creatures inspired by native American petroglyph art and Bedouin tents for Ms. P. Segal's cafe in the center of Black Rock City in 1998. This year we wanted to make the Cafe at least twice as large as last year, with more artistic elements, and I think we succeeded in creating a pleasant place to sip hot or cool drinks and enjoy the panorama and procession of the temporal city around us.

We wanted the Cafe to stretch with arms wide open under the sheltering sky, visually stunning from above and below, giving the compass center of Black Rock City a visual focus. We were blessed with a Full Moon on Saturday of the event, so we thought an appropriate iconic image for the Cafe, to fit in with the theme of Outer Space, might be a black sun eclipsed by a white moon, as shown in the sketch, which shows an initial conception for the Cafe:
  • Theme: Nebulous
  • Event moves back to BLM managed land on the Black Rock Desert.
  • Burning Man volunteers form the Burning Man Earth Guardians to help the BLM manage the desert.
  • Burning Man LLC '98 has 8 members.
  • City has 4 village circles.
  • Streets are numbered and include street signs on each corner.
  • Large installations include: Pepe Ozan "Temple of Rudra", "The Chapel of the Burning Book", Dan Das Mann "The One Tree".
1998 Black Rock City Map

SF Mayor Willie Brown declares July 29 to be "No Spectators Day". Burning Man's art is displayed at The Art of Burning Man: an Incendiary Exhibition San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, July 29 to August 29 1998.

"This is art that provokes interaction. It is the fruit of self-expression elevated to a civic duty, a medium of gift exchange within a relentlessly social environment. Burning Man is a revival of art's culture-bearing and connective function. ... Their work cannot be understood as a commodity that's separate from our community. This is art as myth, as ritual, as a kind of erotic property; a form of collective selfhood."
~ Larry Harvey, opening statement

Our first Burning Man exhibit featured photographs, paintings, installations, video, and the Man itself. The indoor exhibit at the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery at 401 Van Ness Street included the following artists: Dana Albany, Jim Mason, Kal Spelletich, Larnie Fox, Dean Gustaffson, Pandorra Fioretti-Miller, Pepe Ozan, Terry Jacobsen, Al Honig, Chris Campbell, Michael Christian, Mr. Lucky, Michael Pedroni, Charles Spathe, Marian Goodell, Chris de Monterey, Aaron Ferucci, Eric Ebermann, and Hendrik Hackl.

Our opening night festivities featured art cars and performances by Sprocket Ensemble, Circus Baraka, AWD, and Lucid at 401 Van Ness, followed by a street procession led by Pepe Ozan's opera crew in which a flaming vessel was carried by performers from the gallery to the Man on Grove Street. Theme camps, including FabricCamp, Egg Chair, Pinata, Catacylsmic Megashear Ranch, Steve Heck's Piano Bar, and LadyBee's Shrine of the Dessicated Rats lined Lech Walesa Alley, and nearby were Jim Mason's Vegomatic, the Cyberbuss, and machines by Seemen.

Art of Burning Man

The first Google Doodle was an out-of-office message on August 30, 1998 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin went to Burning Man.