This year’s Turning Man is going to spin end to end. Bells are going to ring out every hour, and then the Man will be rotated like clockwork. The area around the base is going to be used for skills training workshops.
Plan view of piazza (Rendering by Andrew Johnstone)
In contrast to the historic squares of Florence that serve as its inspiration, Black Rock City’s piazza will be a playfully détourned version, re-imagined for our desert milieu through the use of repurposed, reused, and recycled materials. It will be anchored at its corners by four campaniles or bell towers, and flanked by four rows of Workshops, sheltered spaces intended for the teaching, learning, and practical application of art and craft. Encouraged by the community’s positive reaction to the Souk in 2014 and the Midway in 2015, we designed these Workshops as the latest step in our ongoing experiment to turn the area around the base of the Man into a rich interactive space. To that end, we will be calling on artists, craftspeople, and tinkerers from across the Regional Network and beyond to help turn these Workshops into lively centers of creative activity, and have set aside a portion of our Honorarium Art Grant budget to help bring these ideas to life. Complementary groups will be encouraged to collaborate here as they do so frequently in their home communities, pulling together artist, organizer, and maker resources to fashion an updated version of the guild network …The emphasis within the Workshop spaces will be on experiential learning through hands-on doing…in order to turn the fruits of one’s imagination into action in the world, new skills often need to be acquired. Whether it’s as ancient as sewing or weaving, or as modern as programming digital lighting arrays, Burners enthusiastically embrace new skills to make their art installations, theme camps, or other projects bigger and better.
Detail view of Man mechanism, looking up (Rendering by Andrew Johnstone)
It’s not live entertainment, it’s lively centers of creative activity. Some people go for the EDM and molly, some for the sewing lessons. Perhaps the Ministry of Propaganda will be conducting some spin classes.
So what happens when The Man burns? Everyone crowds inside the square plaza? Where are the art cars going to go?
“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).