I took a week off from my new job to go to burningman for the 2nd time. It is truly a world of its own and it is what you and everyone else brings to it (I brought a digital camera and some electroluminescent wire - such a spectator, I know) and what you get out of it... is up to you.
The official site: burningman.com
My fellow East Village traveler's bman page: is here
Most of these pics are in the 100Kbytes range. My apologies to those using modems...
We flew nyc to San Francisco, and after a 6 hour drive we could see the camps off in the distance on the playa. After going through the front gates and giving up the $200 ticket, we drove (very slowly - 5mph limit - driving kicks up a lot of dust!) for about 15 minutes past a bunch of signs (1 2 3), some funny and some serious, to the main entrance, where "greeters" met us. And from their dress and attitude you know you aren't in Kansas anymore. (I didn't feel a close-up photo was appropriate).
We got there around 5pm tuesday, just enough time to set up tents. The sunsets were uniformly beautiful. The teepee is our campmate Lise's, and was a great space. This is the last time Sarah wore anything resembling "normal" clothes. (We just got there, remember?) first night
And now for the burningman medley of pictures:
We were in the Drum God's Kamp, the god didn't come out very often (he doesn't like playa dust) but we built a camp to worship him as we saw fit. Pics of the relatively modest camp: 1 2 3 4
You think you know your friends, but sometimes they look suspiciously like water thieves.
The weather was worse than last year. Several dust storms and rain of different degrees of badness. As I recall this was the worst of the dust. Some camps made of PVC domes got flattened. You have to make sure everything in your camp is tied down or has something nice and heavy on it. Weather1 Weather2
You generally have an hour or so warning before the storm rolls in. Here is a near-360deg panorama taken from the top of a trailer (not a full semi, but close to it). It really did look this evilly threatening. I bartered a copy of a Chemical Brothers live CD I made awhile ago for a short and of course cold shower (Dave, the trailer owner, had a big container of water on the top of the trailer - provided a little pressure, more like a thin trickle). Burningman is all about non-commercialism. You barter for things you need. Dave was playing Chemical Brothers and I had him put in my disc because I wanted to hear it at loud volumes. He liked it and we did the trade. The only thing I bought in a week there were 2 bags of ice for $4 - the ice shop is run by the burningman organization. Slogans, brand names, even names of places are seldom seen. People even cover up the "U-Haul" printed on the sides of their "UVs" (like RV, get it?). Subtle but it makes a big difference. All that commercialism is part of some other world, not the one you are experiencing. Where was I? The panoramas. From the top of Dave's trailer, in three sizes: small - 122Kbytes medium - 417Kbytes full - 1790Kbytes
But you can't let the weather control your life. At least not completely. One thing that struck me is how much the weather affects you at burningman; if a storm comes in, plans change, and you'd better be prepared. Of course I didn't bring goggles, as I should have, but a campmate had a pair of speedos I borrowed (and forgot to return - sorry Tron!). So after the 2nd or 3rd day with a dust storm, I said %#$* !@&~, and we went out in the storm, looking like semi-freaky desert nomads. inside the mirror triangle
Back to the medley. Artcars are everywhere. Some are barely recognizable as vehicles. I have a soft spot for volvo wagons; I miss my '78, may it rest in peace. city volvo others deathmobile dragon (MOST amazing, the dragon breathes fire, it is huge, my #1 wow wow wow of this year) funkmobile (funk band on wheels - the saucer was great at night - kazoos given out for the audience to play along with) dna (way cool, so creative) saucers bus flyingsaucer wheelthing (two seater, the big wheels were turned by a motor. Excellent, elegant construction. The "snow flurries" in the picture I think is dust on the camera lens catching the light)
A very literary work of art, literally
The three faces work was super, probably winning the award for most-photographed (apart from the burning Man). metal (dripping tears of fire at night - it was an oh my god its beautiful moment, I shoulda taken a pic) sod (real grass, I was told they kept it watered), and wood.
The theme for this year was "the body", and there were some major works representing various body organs. See if you can guess what these are.
This is what I call "Klang". A bunch of metal welded together, and metal rods lying about (tire irons, etc.) You pick up a piece of metal and bang on the "sculpture". Interactive art anyone can do! At night, with no lights whatsoever (unusual - most works have at least some lighting) with 20 people banging away it is rather unworldly. Like the best burningman art, it is straightforward, unique, creative, and can take a week of storms and sun. klang
Another work. Plaster casts of women's torsos. A recording of women talking in many languages plays inside the structure. Was especially nice at night, with several small spotlights inside the structure illuminating everything. torso
Aural gratification. 16 speakers in a circle aimed inwards, with audio of firecrackers, motorcycles, wood burning, several songs (regular ol' singing and guitar and drums and the like), a few other things I don't remember, and women orgasming (!) in a 30-minute loop. The audio was panned around and multiple samples (like several different firecrackers) would come out of different speakers and such. Simple but good. aural
Human foosball foosball1 foosball2
Strap yourself in this and go for a roll. Looked like fun. Definitely avoid if you have a hangover. roll
The bicycle shop camp. Bicycles are essential to see even a good fraction of the art on the playa. Two friends I stayed with for two nights in San Francisco (Steve and Hawkeye - thanks guys!) hawkandsteve and I found three junky bicycles in the basement of a bike shop. All needed repair; new inner tubes, new brakes, and a new tire. We got the three plus the replacement parts for $150. Unfortunately, the 10-speed (the other two were either 1 or 3 speed) was toast - the derailleur was shot. They fixed the three bikes as best as possible, and I took the 10-speed out sans derailleur. When I found a free moment I went to the bike shop camp, borrowed a chain breaker, and took out 7 links of chain - turning it into a one-speed. I set the gear to one above the highest. It worked great. bikeshop
One of the very few things that I also saw last year. It is remarkable how little art is done more than once. I thought it was nifty then, and I thought so this year too. lamps
Some camps go for height. Mez played technoey stuff most nights. There were long streamers of green lights hanging from the top at night, and it was relatively close to our camp, so it made a convenient landmark. mez
Aliens need love too! alien
The tiki lounge was a great corner bar, just down the street. Closed 8am-1pm. Great margaritas. Fire-twirlers. Excellent music. Shelter from the storms. All around fab. tiki
This had hanging metal things (windchime like pipes and other stuff) that you could play with mallets. The notes for a few simple songs were printed on small signs. It was very elegant. chimes Just beyond it were a series of wood panels with quotes on them. The first one I especially liked. text
A labyrinth leading to a pyramid, with occasional quotes on the path to think about. The labyrinth had no forks; it was a single long path, in a design I have seen before. It took about 20 minutes to get to the center. I wish I had taken pictures of a couple of the quotes - I've forgotten them now. Everybody walked it in complete silence.
The center camp was a large structure with carpets, couches, a coffeeshop (get your mochas here, in exchange for actual greenbacks), a small stage and the like. A comfortable place, tho I didn't spend much time there. A picture of the whole thing . The poles to the left have plastic signs on them that read "Real" on one side and "Imagined" on the other, and spin rapidly in the wind. I thought it was great! Very creative. Here's a panorama (not stitched together quite right, but close) of the inside. small - 108Kbytes medium - 361Kbytes full - 1965Kbytes
The boundary of the burningman area was marked with a plastic fence. View of Black Rock City from the fence, bug's eye view of my bicycle (essential!) at the edge, and the playa going on past the fence to the horizon.
Some art is small and simple. From inside the heart you can get your very own little shiny trinket. heart
No desert is complete without an oasis, and no oasis is complete without a working water fountain!
Art that uses the playa as a surface is occasionally seen. Last year there was an enormous (you could walk on it) ship half "submerged". This was as beautiful as it looks in the picture. horse
The burning of the Man. Which I thought was pretty anti-climactic. Hard to see anything, lots of people crowded around yelling, bah humbug. burn1 burn2 burn3 burn4
Each day the lamplighters hang lanterns on tall wooden poles that are on the innermost ring of camps (the esplanade) and up the center of the playa. The cleaning, filling, hanging and taking down of at least a hundred lanterns is quite a task. The drummers in our camp provided musical accompaniment. Lamplighters and drum god worshippers: lamp1 lamp2 lamp3 lamp4 lamp5 lamp6 lamp7
Finally, a bunch of misc pics (barely?) worthy of being on-line but
Sunset at camp
Smoke from mez
Red people (leading the artcar precession)
another band on wheels
Q: How much more stuff was there that you didn't take pictures
A: A LOT.
Q: I've heard there's lots of nudity and stuff. I don't
see any naked chicks in these pictures.
A: I took almost no pictures of people's costumes, and besides taking pictures of naked people seems... tacky. Particularly if you haven't asked first. And especially if put on-line.
Q: Can I get a higher-resolution copy of any of these pictures?
A: If you really want one (for printing out on your fancy color printer), okay. Please don't ask just for the heck of it, and don't ask for dozens. These are all half-resolution (both horizontally and vertically) of what the camera took. Be advised that most are at least very slightly blurry, and the reduced-resolution ones here actually look better. The "full" version of the panoramas are the best resolution I have.
Ok I've spent entirely too much time resizing, contrast/lightness adjusting,
and panorama-stitching these pictures. Hope you liked 'em!