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Aug 30th - Sept 6th


The Vault of Heaven



Burning Man 2004
Man atop the Observatory

  • Blue neon
  • Man burns almost completely before falling to his left into the burning Observatory below.
  • The Observatory incorporated a wooden geodesic dome as the Man's perch.
  • Indented in its outer circumference were ten small stages designed to function as dioramas: scenic representations of other habitable worlds, and within them groups of people gave theme-related performances.
  • The Man Base Lighting Team is formed by Mr. Blue; this team will continue to artistically illuminate the Man henceforward.

Mutant Vehicles

The Department of Motor Vehicles responded to participant feedback in 2004 with a new policy for mutant vehicles, requiring all art vehicle users to pre-register in order to obtain approval to drive during the event.

There was Brian out there reading his book in a dust storm, that was his gift - Larry Harvey

I tried reading the entire book from start to finish, in a dust storm. I got to around page 75. the dust storm part was not deliberate, it was just what happened the night I set aside to do this. Flash of all people talked sense into me and told me I didn't need to kill myself doing the whole thing. - Brain Doherty

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community's ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event's inception.
David Best's Temple of Stars was a quarter-mile long edifice inspired by Japanese architectural influences, and was once again a source of meditative peace, reverence and emotional catharsis for those who enjoyed its sprawling walkways and towering spire.

Early in 2004, the Burning Man Project launched the expansion of the Regional program, which created the Burning Man Regional Network. Further enhancing and supporting the efforts of our community's Regional Contacts, the Network provides a means for regional groups to gather, collaborate and interact all year long.

The beautifully contemplative Pagoda of Infinite Reflection was the product of a collaborative effort by the South Bay (CA) Regional Group, who created a visually stunning example of the strength found in a connected community.

The Black Rock Gazette features one of many Pants Cannons incidents - the Pantzooka Patrol. BRG September 1, 2004
Burning Man builds a wireless network in Gerlach that is free to town residents.

Additionally, in support of the communities around the Black Rock Desert, in 2004 Black Rock City, LLC made donations to Friends of the Black Rock, Reno Crisis Center, Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada Outdoor School, Gerlach Medical Clinic, Gerlach High School, Greater Gerlach Improvement District (GGID), Gerlach Volunteer Fire Department, Gerlach Senior Citizens, Empire 4-H Club, Pershing County Chamber of Commerce, Pershing County School System and Lovelock Lion’s Club.

Ray Allen - Burning Man Supports Local Community Service Organizations

In 2004, we witnessed an evolutionary jump in the development of the grand experiment that is the Burning Man project. Every year, we experience new challenges. And every year, we rise to those challenges, and we grow from the experience. On all fronts, 2004 was a growing year, and one of new realities in our shared experience creating Burning Man.

With 19 events under our collective belt, the Burning Man organizers and participants were able to draw upon their deep well of past experience to meet our challenges; every lesson learned adding surety and grace to the creation of Black Rock City.

The Burning Man staff worked diligently since the end of the 2003 event to prepare for 2004. In our ongoing endeavor to streamline efforts and “organize chaos” more smoothly, we developed some new processes for planning our city.

As we played, danced, labored, told stories and sang, the playa handed us some of her most unpredictable weather patterns ever, from dust storms to rain, to blazing heat and back again (the cleanup crew even worked with a view of snow on the mountaintops late in the season). Following several years of relatively benign weather, participants learned the true meaning of radical self-reliance as we faced high winds, whiteouts and frigid evening temperatures.

According to reports, around 40 projects with registered either did not show up, or set their project up in their camps instead of on the playa, many citing weather as their reason for this decision.

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The Man stood atop an Observatory in the form of a geodesic dome resting on a round base embellished with classical columns. The interior of the dome served as a gallery housing ten interactive installations, as well as Tim Black's installation Optical Acoustics. The ground floor exterior contained ten small stages, each defined by a diorama, designed by ten different participants. We asked participants to claim one of the stages and direct interactive theater, which created an easy way join in supporting the theme.
One year in the Observatory Man Base we sent a message to Betelgeuse that read “You’re part of history in the making so make the most of your time”
  • Theme: The Vault of Heaven
  • Black Rock City contained 503 theme camps, about the same number as the previous year, and over 220 artworks dotted the open playa. Many of these works explored things celestial and scientific, in participation with the theme.
  • Around 40 art projects registered but did not show up on the open playa. Many of these artists reported difficulties with the weather early in the week, which brought periodic dust storms and high winds.
  • The Man stood atop a geodesic dome which housed 11 scientific and celestial artworks, and which was ringed by ten interactive stages, imagined as "alternate universes" where individuals and troupes staged various performances.
  • The hard-working DPW built the perimeter fence surrounding Black Rock City in a record two days.
  • Due to a still-pending permit status, setup crews were not able to camp at Black Rock Station, Burning Man's work ranch. Early work crews instead were housed in rented trailers at the Gerlach Estates Trailer Park.
  • 271 spires lined the major streets and promenades, supporting 700 lanterns arduously lit each night by the Lamplighters.
  • At Center Camp, participants were encouraged to bring their own cups for coffee, thanks to a new development in Health Department cooperation at the Caf. Trash cans were eliminated and any paper cups used were instead spiked onto the new "Shish-Cup-Bob" for burning.
  • Approximately 95,000 cans were crushed at Recycle Camp, once again raising nearly $800 for the students of Gerlach High School.
  • Biodegradable products were used to serve meals at the staff commissary, and the Project tested the first biodiesel generator to be used in its infrastructure.
  • A new preregistration requirement may have taken some art car enthusiasts by surprise: 420 licensed mutant vehicles roamed the playa, down from 560 in 2003.
  • The Regional Contacts program continued to thrive year-round, boasting 85 local contacts at the end of 2004. Early in the year, the program was further established with the launch of the Regional Network, a formalized relationship between Burning Man and the Regional Contacts.
  • The Regional Network has a Center Camp presence for the first time, with the Regional Information Center, constructed and staffed by Burning Man's Regional Contacts.
  • Los Angeles held the second-largest Decompression event post-Burning Man, held once again on several city blocks near downtown.
  • In the 2004 census, approximately 30% of participants polled responded that they had attended a local regional event.
  • Burning Man once again registers over 300 members of the press, including many international outlets.
BMIR 94.5 FM came into being in 2001, primarily as an outlet for potential emergency announcements and a source of orientation information for citizens new to Black Rock City. With the exception of the live Exodus show, the station ran almost exclusively from automated software, which allowed it to be on-air 24 hours a day. But after 3 years of broadcasting ... the station was beginning to feel a little . . . automated. ...We decided that 2004 would be the year that BMIR would go live.

$teven Ra$pa and LadyBee hosted a discussion with Jadu Beta artist Saul Melman, while $teven and ActionGrl led a roundtable discussion of the Regionals movement with Regional Reps from around the country...this new level of operations created a free-form public-radio forum for the BRC community. Participants could drop by to interact with the DJs in the studio and with the city on-air.

We've always done our best to make the station sound like the playa feels, striving for that perfect synergistic bliss. We have always tried to program a diverse range of music that reflects the city's diverse population.

- Eric Myers, AfterBurn Report

Fire Arts Festival, July 7-11

The event took place inside and across the street from The Crucible in Oakland. Working in collaboration with The Crucible, and with the support of the City of Oakland, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Oakland Police and Fire Departments, Fire Arts Festival 2004 opened to accolades and became a resounding success.

Artists included Infinite Kaos and Capacitor, Kal Spelletich, the Flaming Lotus Girls, Paul De Plumber’s Fire Lilly, Wally Glenn’s Fire Zen Garden and Kiki Smith’s Fire Cauldron. Also, Therm, The Fire Garden and Jack Schroll’s fire jet named "El Diablo" and Nate Smith’s work showcasing a technique of directly sculpting fire by hand were n display.