BREAKING: Theme Announced: TURNING MAN [Updates]

Da Vinci Man! Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Da Vinci Man! Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: Nico Sotomayor, Facebook

Image: Nico Sotomayor, Facebook

Hot off the presses from VOBM. The big news is The Man is going to rotate on its base. The theme taps into the Maker Movement, and will surely inspire more creativity than scary clowns or camels.

Burning Man 2016: Da Vinci’s Workshop

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”  – Leonardo

Burning Man’s 2016 art theme is inspired by the Italian Renaissance of the middle fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage launched Europe out of the dark ages and into modernity. Our story will focus on the republic of Florence, for it was here, in a city-state of about the same size and population as Black Rock City, that humanist ideals, a rediscovery of science, and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization. Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.

Turning Man illustration by Andrew Johnstone
Theme and text by Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum. Illustration by Andrew Johnstone.

…Florentine artist Leonardo da Vinci sketched what is perhaps the definitive icon of this era. Inspired by his study of the Roman architect Vitruvius, he mapped the ratios of the human body to produce the image of a man, his limbs outstretched to span a universal circle. This year’s Man will emulate the symbol of Vitruvian Man. As nearby bell towers toll the hours, we will invite participants to operate an elaborate system of human-powered gears and pulleys that will slowly rotate Burning Man a full 360 degrees on the vertical plane, as if it formed the axle and spokes of an enormous spinning wheel.

The creation of a giant Turning Man is especially appropriate, since many famous Florentine artists were also civil engineers. Filippo Brunelleschi, originally enrolled in a guild and trained as a goldsmith, went on to design and construct the city’s chief cathedral – an unprecedented structure; it became a wonder of the world. Tasked with raising and assembling four million bricks in order to complete its egg-shaped dome, he invented dozens of diverse machines. Likewise, the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci are replete with engineering sketches – including the prototype of a helicopter. This fusion of art, science and technology also characterizes Black Rock City. In 2016, the Burning Man will be surrounded by a public square, a piazza lined with workshops, each representing a guild. Our guilds, unlike the traditional guilds of Florence, will be self-invented and devoted to the interactive manufacture of whatever participating artists and inventors can imagine. We will again invite our regional communities to join in this effort, and will reach out to members of the maker movement to help create this interactive environment.
Florentine guild ensignia
The Medici Lion flanked by insignia of the Merchant, Wool, Silk and Stonemason guilds

Read the full announcement at

I love this theme, well done BMOrg! “Spin”, huh? Hmmm…


[Update 10/27/15 2:41pm]

How will the Burners spin The Man? I’m imagining something a little like this:




[Update 10/30/15 8:07am]

“Over many years, private donors, with a remarkable lack of fanfare, have quietly funded some of the most beloved artworks that have honored our city. We believe that what has long been private should be made more public.

In 2016 we will conduct a social experiment, inviting artists and patrons to settle around and activate a public plaza in the city. We will call on them to join together, pooling their resources to create a welcoming environment at the plaza’s center – a sheltered place where all our citizens may take their ease amid the amenities of high civilization. Thus we will establish common ground where participants can be united by their shared experience.”

A common ground where participants can be united by their shared experience? That used to be called Burning Man.

Many Burners have observed that this theme seems tailor made to encourage wealthy patrons to donate to the Burning Man Project before the annual Artumnal fundraiser on November 21.

I note that for the third year in a row, they are continuing with the “shopping mall at the Man base” idea, rather than the Regionals making effigies to burn. The emphasis is becoming much more on the highly controlled experiences of burning The Man and the Temple, than individual Burners getting to burn stuff themselves. The Temple is now  being promoted by Oprah as a new kind of religious experience.

At first I thought “they called it Da Vinci not Leonardo, must be something to do with Da Vinci’s Demons” – knowing how much these Satanists love demons. This morning it occurred to me that there’s another connection to Helco, on its 20th anniversary. Larry’s mate, Burning Man co-founder Flash (aka “Papa Satan”) hosts a show on the Discovery Channel called Doing Da Vinci. A nice little promotional bump for him, who once boasted of early Burning Man “I’m the only one who made money every time” (he sold tacos, beer, hamburgers, and t-shirts).

flash devil

[Update 10/30/15 8:36am]

I like this comment from VOBM:

I am confused. Is this theme snark? If so, it is spot-on! All hail the billionaire parasite class; our tech-bro overlords. Let us bow down in supplication to their magnanimous trickling of wealth and patronage. Praise be to the noblesse oblige of Camp Zuckerberg and their ilk, as we pray at the shrine of Sarandon. Let us hold humility in our hearts as we create a playground for THEIR amusement.

If this is not snark, it’s just sad.

I’ve run a placed camp for five years now, we make art, gift booze, shade, games, and community, and none of it was thanks to the parasite billionaire class. All they do is show up and take what we create.

I have decided to assume this theme is a joke – that we are not being expected to worship the entitled plug and players as they ride their segways past what we have created. I have mostly stayed out of the increasing discussion about the entitled and the creators, but goddamn Burning Man, you’re asking for it this time.

35 comments on “BREAKING: Theme Announced: TURNING MAN [Updates]

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  3. The Good

    My belief is the theme of Da Vinci’s Workshop is awesome. The theme permits numerous little projects near to the man, on the playa, and within the city, in regards of numerous people participating in the projects, might they desire to do so, in the place of most people solely spectating upon the labours of others. It is more towards the beginnings of Burning Man, in regards of participation, might the theme be done in a proper manner. Burning Man associating with the maker movement is an awesome plan, it is a better plan than their prior desires of associating with the sharing with Larry and the plug and play campers economy, or of the rubbish gifting to Larry economy. In addendum, it is easy peasy to construct costumes in regards of this theme, in a Renaissance Pleasure Faire manner.

    The Bad

    The BORG is desiring of new people to assimilate. They have pissed upon numerous prior artists, DPW labourers, EDM camps, and numerous others within the awesome Burner Community. The BORG desires to assimilate new people within the maker movement, purposed to replace prior artists.

    My belief is the BORG announced the theme prior of the ticket sales, and prior of the artist letter of intent, purposed towards making attempts to gain numerous little art projects. Might any person desire tickets to Burning Man, state to them of you, and your mates, are making a maker project, and, might you, and your mates, gain free tickets, you will take the project to Burning Man. The BORG is most desiring of giving you, and your mates, free tickets, in due of the population of Black Rock City is 70,000 paid participants, but artist contractors, in the manner you are termed, might you sign their hidden artist contract, are not counted within the permitted population of 70,000 paid participants. Might the BORG state towards you of they will not gift you a free ticket, but the Borg will permit you to purchase a ticket within the directed sale for near to $400, state to them to GTBH. The Borg desires the regionals to fund the spaces near to the man, and fund art on the playa. Utilizing their Regional Representatives Contacts, the BORG desires the regionals to fund the art, and the regionals will give you a ticket to their party, and, a little bit of cash, might you bring your maker project to the regional, and to the burn on the playa. Wait upon the offer of free tickets to the playa, and upon the total of all costs of the project.

    The Ugly

    It is most appalling, in despite of the BORG gaining $30.5 million – spreadsheet in due of ticket sales, of which, they refuse to state, towards donors of art, cash, stock, and labour, of where the ticket money goes, the Borg desires others to fund the cash for the art and maker projects. The BORG desires their rich plug and play and concierge campers, the regionals, the artists, and others, to fund the art at their parties. Larry states numerous times, within the announcement of the theme, of that others are to pay their cash for the art. Arse

    ‘when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage‘ and ‘Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy‘ and ‘We will again invite our regional communities to join in this effort, and will reach out to members of the maker movement to help create this interactive environment.’ . Arse.

    It is not solely Larry whom is of this belief, Marian, within a video within August, states near to the same. burnersxxx comments upon her video of She’s certainly not building her own camp. About ten minutes into the interview she completely justifies paid sherpas – as long as they get to eat at the same dinner table as the other campers, rather than “staff” versus “guests”, an “us and them sort of thing”. She states “The culture of Burning Man can really flourish with money…[for example] to bring great musicians to your camp”..

    Might part of their desire to cater to rich people, perchance, might be in due of their desired plans upon Fly Ranch, and upon the Hualapai playa – links? A part of the plan is to sell homesteads to rich people, to construct theme camps, in the manner of the 118 theme camps at Bohemian Grove, might it be of the same manner as the Bohemian Grove, 10 per cent of their members must be artists, actors, and authors, purposed to do entertainment for the rich men, and camp valets organizing the camps, and servants to the rich men? Perchance, might other homestead theme camps be purposed to construct maker spaces upon the land? Might Larry be a member of the Bohemian Grove, and conversing with his mates in this manner, might some of the Concierge Camps be in due of members of Bohemian Grove theme camps? Might the theme of Da Vinci’s Workshop be, of part, in due of a desire to copy of the Renaissance Pleasure Faires, of multiple weeks, of near to 10,000 people of each week, upon the Hualapai playa?

    I do not know of the answers of these queries. All I am of the knowledge of is their desires of others to pay the costs of the art, their paying shit to awesome DPW arses whom construct BRC, and towards the costs of others whom provide entertainment to their $30.5 million of ticket buyers, and Larrys numerous statements of other rich patrons funding the costs of starving artists, and his embrace of the class divisions of the Renaissance within the announcement of the theme, is most unburnerly, and it is most appalling.

      • Much obliged, Nomad. Many of their prior themes have been most promotional of the Org, in the manner of Metropolis within 2010 in regards of promotion of the regionals parties, of Rites of Passage within 2011 in regards of promotion of the selling transition of their BRC LLC, and trademarks, to the 501(c)3 Burning Man Project, and Fertility, and Fertility 2.0 within 2012, in regards of promotion of the spreading of the prior Burner culture towards the world.

        I was most curious of the theme of 2015 in regards of the future of Burning Man, in addendum of Larrys rubbish statements in regards of rich patrons, and of the meek licking their arses for a bit of cash, and then, I was of the realization of the theme was purposed towards the vision of Larry upon the Fly Ranch project, of rich patrons buying the homesteads theme camps in the manner of the Bohemian Grove, the Renaissance Faires, of multiple weeks, upon the Hualapai playa, and the serfs sherpas burgeoning poor middle class licking their arses in the manner of might I have porridge, sir?

        Priorly, I did not desire to believe your NPD comments, but, how in bloody hell might a person be so deaf towards the desires of the awesome Burner Community in the manner of Larrys comments upon enlightened rich patrons patronising poor artists, and of Larry desiring others to fund the cash for the art upon the playa and upon their desired Fly Ranch project. My belief, at present, is of, purposed for the benefit of the Burning Man Project, the board of directors of the Project must state to Larry to go to bloody hell, and remove him of his positions within the Project. I was of the hope of the other Project directors might desire to respect Burner principles, and the desires of the awesome Burner Community, within the update of the Project bylaws, and permit proper representation of the awesome Burner Community within the Project, but, by appearance, that is far from what is occurring. Assimilation without proper representation is tyranny.

        • I note also that they announced the theme a few weeks before the Artumnal – so the patrons can prepare themselves.

          “Burning Man is an experiment in a new way of living”…yes. Tyranny.

          • Yes. I am not against their desires of a Fly Ranch Project – NYMag, it might be awesome, but the expectation, of Larry and his mates, of Burners licking the arses of rich patrons for porridge will not occur. Concierge Camps, and camp valets, and sherpas, in the manner of Bohemian Grove, is most against Burner principles. The difficulties are in regards of the BORG, their desires of top down control over a bottoms up created event, and culture, is most appalling. They desire a new class of entrepreneurs to be patrons, in a Renaissance manner, but the new class of entrepreneurs is most familiar in regards of the meritocracy manner most common within bottoms up created cultures.

            My belief is the 11th principle might be in the same manner as Figment in regards of Gratitude towards all whom contribute. Awesome people are funding cash towards the art spaces, and towards the art, whom are most deserving of our Gratitude. An awesome art scene is occurring within Reno, in due of awesome Burner Community artists, in addendum of numerous events are in due of members of the Burner Community, in the manner of LIB, Further Future, Symbiosis, Figment, and numerous others, whom are not assimilated by the BORG, whom are most deserving of our Gratitude. Might the Project board of directors be of the realisation in regards of the manner of top down control, and of rich patrons and near to serfs, is most against the desires of the Burner Community, and do the most necessary changes, Burner culture, and the Project, will benefit in a most awesome manner. Assimilation without proper representation is tyranny.

          • Unfortunately, they have moved you toward their thinking, because: Assimilation itself is tyranny.

            Burner events are best when they are like Night Market: name the time and the place, and thanks for the porta-potties.

            And it’s all volunteer! (In case you cannot tell, I have volunteered for a few Night Markets.) Volunteering is a critical element. If you do it as your day job to pay the rent, you are doing it wrong. It has to be a gift.

            And for me, the threshold is higher than even Transformus – I will only do it like when I went to Burning Man: anyone can come, down to the last minute, like Night Market. That innovation and spontaneity is critical. Most of the smaller burns are like that – I am still encouraged that Burnt Soup is not sold out hours after tickets go on sale. “Hey, wanna come. It’s fun!” And with a few hours/days planning, you are there.

            If nothing else, the drama of the Borg ticketing is utterly and entirely too much, made all the worse by their squeezing the last drop of narcissistic supplies out of it.

          • “Burner events are best when they are like Night Market: name the time and the place, and thanks for the porta-potties.”

            This is an excellent encapsulation of what I think the BMORG should be doing, period.

        • It is amusing that the faithful, like Pooh, buy the Borg doublespeak that they are trying to “deal with the CCamps problem” all the while expanding that aspect to their organization. Of course the “CCamps problem” is the perception, having nothing to do with reality of flow of cash and narcissistic supplies.

          As for the BMP BoD or anyone booting Larry and Marion, remember that any of them can veto the transfer of the “Burning Man” IP in a few years, and that would sink the BMP. All very cleverly structured.

          As for the CCamps, there was an interesting comment on the BM discussion board after my post about the Quiznos affair. The BR airport is clearly the touchstone for the sellout. I wish someone had audited who arrived how, and where they went. I would love to the the Borg set up ropes, in the style of Hilary Clinton, to manage information about the fly-ins.

          • The airport does have log books recording who’s coming and going. If anyone would like to share these (anonymously of course), we’d love to take a look.

            From what they’ve said about Decommodification LLC (which we have no way to verify), all 6 LLC members have to vote unanimously against the IP transfer (sale? donation?) to stop it.

          • As I recall it, it was unanimous to make the transfer, since I clearly recall Larry saying, “I don’t see why we would not do it.” Regardless, it does hold a gun to the head of BMP to keep them happy, individually or as a block.

            I also wonder if the decide not to transfer, if BRC LLC gets to leave the BMP, since that would effectively let them “keep” the event and the name. Paying $4 million a year for lawyers has to get you more than free drinks at the bar. 😉

          • The cash paid towards lawyers, perchance, gains them of a hidden contract of conditions upon their donation of the BRC LLC to the Project, of which, the donation is not permitted to be undone, and many of the conditions are stated within the Project bylaws. Might the 2014 990 form of the Project, due within May November, state of some of their conflicts of interests, of which, at present, are hidden from donors? The 990 forms of other 501(c)3 non profit public benefit corporations do so.

          • In the interests of transparency, the nature and terms of the contractual relationships between Decommodification, LLC and the Burning Man Project (and any other LLCs of the Founders) should be disclosed.

        • ABP, as you point out, the Borg is trying to more formally involve the regionals. This is for several reasons. First, the Borg gets to claim their their contributions as their own, a la Enron. Second, they are trying to make a defacto franchise to exclude other events like Figment and Night Market. Third, they want to establish a hierarchy so the “regionals” will always be seen as a supporting character and never eclipse the Black Rock regional.

          Burnersxxx, the burner community would be well-served by having a well-maintained non-Borg list of burn events, from Figment to Night Market to Burnt Soup. Particularly the start-ups need a way to be recognized entirely independent of the Borg and its agenda.

          • My belief is of it would be awesome might any person desire to pen guests posts in this manner.

          • But we need far more than a guest post, as others have done. We need a web site with a master list, and open discussions for additions and updates, with a manager or managers to edit the list. People need to know they can go there to find the burn events, with a listing by location, cross-referenced by other factors (size, cost of tix, management, etc.). Don’t know if WordPress can support that, or if it needs to be another venue. But as my experience shows, FB is clearly not it.

  4. Why I don’t like it:

    It separates the artist from the craft by focusing on the individual (Leonardo), rather than the art that the individual creates. By putting an artist up on a pedestal, the Borg is participating and pushing the sort of Culture of Personality and rampant egoism / narcissism by elevating an individual artist over other artists.

    Indeed, I have noticed that this is quite the trend among the Burner elite. Picking and choosing who gets the art grants and deeming those artists “more valuable” or “more worthy” than other artists and/or volunteers, who indeed have to pay for tickets and volunteer their time and art not just at the Burn but at the regional events as well. Volunteers and artists who gift their crafts are expected to to pay full price for tickets, to subsidize the other artists whom the Borg or organizers deem to be the ones deserving the money. It stinks of elitism and leads to exclusion.

    For example, charging volunteers and artists who spend time, energy and in many cases their own money for tickets to regional burn events is an absolute slap in the face to their efforts. Then the organizers complain that they don’t have enough volunteers, and that they have to charge high ticket prices in order to “pay for the event” which ultimately keeps out lower income people from attending.

    If a small time burner has a small art vehicle that he or she wants to showcase at their regional burn, do they get paid? Of course not. They have to pay full price like everyone else, despite that they may have poured thousands into their piece and that money goes to another artist who has been deemed more exalted. Furthermore, the artist is expected to be “grateful” that he or she can bring their piece to the party to share it with everyone else.

    The organizers of all of these events leech off of so many volunteers and artists and then expect them to be grateful for “doing them a favor” and allowing them to attend their holy event. It’s fucking ridiculous.

    Burner hypocrisy and social engineering is just disgusting these days.

    • “It separates the artist from the craft by focusing on the individual (Leonardo), rather than the art that the individual creates…”

      Individuals can be assimilated and provide narcissistic supplies, art cannot.

  5. I predict this to be the first Ferris Wheel at BM as the event evolves, despite its pretensions, into really little more than a county fair. Albeit an expensive one.

  6. “…and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization.”

    Uh huh.

    Snark aside, it’s a good theme, and it will be interesting to see how they pull off the rotating Man thing.

    • Patrons. That quote is talking about patrons. So burning man officially embraces classicism. No more self reliance. There are rich folks who don’t actually do* anything, and the paid artists and crafts people who create for the interests of the rich. A different society than the one I enjoyed when I went to burning man, more equality back then.

      • Exactly, thanks for catching that quote, I saw that, too! Could it be more clear what Bman is about at this point? That’s their own words. Fuck ’em.

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