BURNING MAN 2012
“The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.”
Attended by more than 52,000 participants, Burning Man 2012 was yet another complete success, proving that whatever may be going in the world, Burning Man continues to thrive and expand. Although the winter’s lack of rain and a forecast of high winds made people fear an abundance of dust storms and a difficult playa surface, the event saw only one big dust storm, and the playa was even and firm.
The year’s art theme was Fertility 2.0. Loosely described as contemplating “the tendency of any being or living system to create abundant life,” the theme inspired some of Burning Man’s most original and creative art projects and installations to date.
The 2012 Man stood on a structure reminiscent of ancient Rome’s Pantheon. With arching portals, two mezzanines and an atrium, the structure was built as circles within circles, with a central open skylight. The beehive-like concoction was turned into an interactive living organism, as burners were encouraged to express their sense of “inner being,” by acting and dressing as bees. The base of The Man was occupied by an installation called “Bee Here Now! ” by Gregg Fleishman; a massive climbable 38?-tall plywood sculpture that represented a flower’s pistil.
David Best’s creation for the 2012 temple was called The Temple of Juno, and it was hailed by many as the greatest of Best’s Burning Man temples so far. On the smaller side when compared to previous temples, The Temple of Juno was also the most detailed temple ever built for Burning Man. Featuring a large walled courtyard, a central building with an altar, and a tower, the temple was covered with messages, poems, and art throughout the event, offering plenty of opportunities for reflection, creation and sharing.
For the first time, a new program called the Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) brought 35 new art installations built by Burning Man Regional groups from all over the world to the playa. The CORE projects were placed around the Man, as a testimony of the reach and communal spirit of Burning Man culture all over the planet.
From a replica of Mad Max’s Thunderdome to recreations of American history and a myriad of futuristic wonders, Art on the playa provided creative, insightful and profound comments on the present, past and future of humanity; not without the accustomed touches of whimsicality.
Zonotopia and the Two Trees by Rob Bell presented a gold and a silver tree embraced by The Zomes, which were structures made of interlocking wooden rhombic panels, created as a space for meeting and play. The Golden tree invoked the feminine, while the Silver one invoked the masculine, implying a union of life that begets new and hopeful things.
The Pulpo mecanico was a fire-shooting octopus made from recycled materials found in a scrap yard. Fire spewed madly from the tentacles and head of the creature, which was built without resorting to hydraulics or computer technology, creating one of the most memorable spectacles of the year.
Pier 2 and La llorona was a continuation of 2011′s Pier installation. The remains of a dead ship called La llorona decorated the pier, evoking the mystifying journeys and adventures of New World explorers. A replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon, La llorona appeared as if it had collided against the Pier, only half of its corpse remaining exposed over the playa surface. The inside of the ship was extremely beautiful and realistic, full of maps, trinkets, and voyage journals meant to tell its fantastic tales.
There is always one installation that helps keep Burning Man Art on the news; this year, it was Burn Wall Street by Otto Von Danger. Political in nature, according to its creators, the piece aimed to present the Tea Party and the Occupy movements as having similarly radical postures. Replicas of the buildings of Wall Street were placed on the playa, to be set ablaze, for the benefit of all Americans looking for a solution that has the people in mind, more than any particular group’s radical politics.
Singularity Transmissions by Troy Stanley and Team RX/TX was an interactive tower designed to create one voice out of the voices of 16 people, which were received through rudimentary tin-can phones. Evoking simpler times, the installation was also set to record all of the received playa sounds for future use in different forms of art and music.
Through the Gorilla Glass by GUILD used Gorilla Glass (the kind used in touch-screen gadgets) to produce colourful dancing wave patterns of light, through a complex mechanism of mechanical arms set to create sequential waves. The arms reacted to the presence of visitors, creating different visual and musical patterns in one of the year’s most visually stunning creations.
CHANGING THE WORLD
As Burning Man culture spreads through the year and throughout the world, examples of the far-reaching positive effects of Burning Man projects keep feeding the hopes and dreams of burners all over the world, making them feel like Black Rock City is truly making a difference.
Black Rock Solar has been one of the most salient examples of Burning Man culture’s successful adventures outside the confines of the Black Rock desert. Created five years ago, on the occasion of the Green Man theme, Black Rock Solar has already installed two megawatts of solar power throughout Nevada. In fact, Nixon, Nevada boasts more distributed solar energy per capita than any other US city. In 2010, Highway 447 was hailed as “America’s Solar Highway.” Black Rock Solar has also contributed to the founding of GREENevada, which focuses on environmental education, organizing an annual event called Student Sustainability Summit, where students compete for large cash prizes to help them make their campuses greener.