Remember when Burning Man was all about the Maker Movement? In 2016 the theme was Da Vinci’s Workshop, and Minister of Propaganda Will Chase left to do PR for Maker Faire. This year they have returned to the latest Silicon Valley buzzwords with I, Robot.
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“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.
…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.
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).
… the bar for rings is now literally out of the stratosphere.
Impressing your beloved with even a 5-carat diamond isn’t going to be easy.. after Oakland, Calif., artist Andrew Johnstone presented his new bride, Jeri Schneider, with a custom 3D-printed ring containing 0.32 gram of Tranquillityite. That’s real, honest-to-goodness moon rock for those of you keeping track at home.
… “It was the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep,” he said.
Did she love it? The look of utter surprise and shock on her face when she saw it and understood what it was said yes. As she posted to Facebook, “Now, when someone says ‘look at the moon,’ I hold my hand in the air.”
…Johnstone, a Scotsman by birth, was the lead designer on the Man, the 105-foot-tall, 70,000-pound icon at the literal center of the festival. The wedding itself was held almost at the foot of the Man and was attended by many Burning Man notables, including festival founder Larry Harvey.
Johnstone said that the spark for the ring came a year ago, when the platform underneath the 2013 Man — the effigy is burned near the end of each year’s event; then rebuilt the following year — contained a small piece of meteorite. After he and Schneider got engaged last December, he realized that because she’s a science teacher “and not a diamond girl” that “she would think a diamond was frivolous, and wasteful.”
Plus, Johnstone added, “As an artist, I can’t [just] buy a ring out of a tray…That’s not me.”
Fortunately, Johnstone still maintained a relationship with the meteorite dealer in Hawaii who’d sold him the stone for last year’s Man, and he began to think that perhaps using some sort of space rock might be the way to go. “He said he had five pieces of something extraordinary,” Johnstone recalled. “It was a piece of the moon, [known as] lunar regolith, that had fallen as a meteorite in Morocco in 2006.”
Next thing you know, Johnstone had his .32 grams of Tranquillityite — “one of the only samples of lunar regolith not owned by NASA.”
…the strong-yet-fragile stone needed to be protected, and he began envisioning the concept of an outreaching hand.
As an artist-in-residence at The Gate, a hub for technology, art and makers in San Leandro, Calif., Johnstone was already in contact with former jewelers Justin Kelly, Sarah Kelly and Rod Wagner, who run Mind2Matter, a 3D-printing company based out of The Gate. Together, they created a 3D mesh of the hand holding the rock, first using Sketchup, a consumer-grade modeling program, and then Maya, a professional tool. Finally, they printed the final product and had it cast in white gold. “Then they set the stone within that,” Johnstone said.
After a set of vows from the couple’s two daughters — one from each of their previous marriages — they delivered their own vows. Right on cue as they kissed — “the pyro crew had somebody crouch down next to me with a radio,” Johnstone said, “and as soon as we kissed it was like ‘Go, go, go, go’ — a 30-second volley of fireworks went off behind the Man.
… To all that would hear her, she said, “Other guys promised me the moon. He gave it to me.”
Most in attendance were in tears. Some of Johnstone’s friends came up to him, and speaking about the wedding, and the ring in particular, told him, “Thanks a lot, you’ve f—-d it up for the lot of us.” Later, by phone, he recalled the two of them leaving a restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., and looking up at the moon in the sky. “She did a double-take,” Johnstone said wistfully. “Now whenever she sees the moon she’ll be reminded of how much I love her.”