Soma Showcases Burner Culture on the Embarcadero

soma crane installSFist tells us about a new Big Art installation on Pier 14. Soma was made by the Flaming Lotus Girls, and debuted at Burning Man in 2009.

Bizarrely, Pier 14 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero is just to the South of Pier 2, between the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge, rather than near the Exploratorium at Pier 17.  Maybe they should have put it in San Francisco’s SoMa district, the new epicenter of the tech industry.

From sfist:

New Burning Man Art Comes To Pier 14

soma_burningman.jpg Soma at Burning Man in 2009. jondissed/flickr

On July 21, just after sunset, a new interactive, LED sculpture will light up Pier 14. The 28 x 40 foot stainless steel installation is a modified version of piece that premiered at Burning Man in 2009.

Named “Soma,” which refers to its abstract depiction of two neurons connected by an axon bridge, the sculpture was created by local art collective the Flaming Lotus Girls with support from the Port of San Francisco and the Black Rock Arts Foundation (Burning Man’s arts nonprofit), it was built using stainless steel handrails gathered from a local shop, click here to learn more about it. The project also raised $17,000 on Kickstarter and they’re still accepting donations here.

Unlike the Burning Man edition, which shot fire from multiple points, the waterfront version will feature LEDs, which are controlled by buttons accessible to the public. The Flaming Lotus Girls write that the LED units are “capable of producing 1.6 million colors” and the computer-controlled buttons allow people to activate a “trans-synaptic action.”

According to the Flaming Lotus Girls’s blog, the sculpture will turn on ten minutes after sunset and stay lit till 2 a.m., just like The Bay Lights. The exhibit is open 24 hours a day,. Soma will be up until July 2015.

“Soma” – an interesting choice to represent Burner culture. Why, you ask?

Soma is indeed an accepted term for a neuron. It is more than that, though. Use of the word goes back beyond even Greek times, to the Indian/Aryan Vedas, the oldest known texts that are still in use today. It is the first known drug, a botanical entheogen consumed in rituals and considered “a God for Gods”.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASoma is also the name of the wonder drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World which is used to control the population in blissful ignorance. In the book it is described as an opiate, hallucinogen, and stimulant, with no side effects. The British-born Huxley has a long association with the Bay Area. He was the major inspiration behind the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, where there is a “sacred vessel” meeting room named after him. His dystopian novel is considered by some, along with his student George Orwell’s 1984, as a blueprint for modern society.

pillshead“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution”

 – Aldous Huxley, UC Berkeley, 1962.

“We’re a self-service cult. Wash your own brain” – Larry Harvey.

Here’s Huxley’s whole speech:

huxley_orwell1

Ensign to the Bridge!

by Whatsblem the Pro

Useful is the new sexy

Useful is the new sexy

We’ve been covering the build of the Control Tower over the last month or two, and today we’ve got an opportunity for YOU to be part of the project on-playa.

Sevenn, the International Arts Megacrew‘s administrative angel, is looking for people to fill slots as “Control Tower Ensigns,” helping the crew keep the Tower manned and operational 24/7. There are a number of four-hour shifts available throughout the week that will give you a chance to get a look at the workings of this massive, amazing art project from an insider’s point of view. There may be swag involved, and you’ll also get to hobnob and generally rub elbows with the legendary builders of the IAM, creators of the Temple of Transition that wowed Black Rock City in 2011, among other major playa art projects.

“The Control Tower Ensigns will help support the crew and systems of the Control Tower during the event, serving as ambassadors and safety personnel,” says Sevenn. “There will be a Control Tower crew member on site at all times to train and help you. Thank you for your assistance and support!”

As a CT Ensign, you’ll be assisting an IAM crew member with duties such as keeping people from climbing the tower, recording any technical issues, acting as a liaison with Rangers and law enforcement personnel, ensuring the generators are running and fueled up, and more.

Sign-up for a CT Ensign shift is quick and easy; just visit the Volunteerspot page for the project and enter your information, then show up for your shift on the playa at the appointed time. You won’t have a hard time finding it – even at Burning Man, a sixty-foot tower loaded with lasers and flamethrowers and other implements of funstruction will be hard to miss – just go to 3:15 and Esplanade, and you’ll see it.

That's a 1:5 scale model of the Tower; crew members are actual size

That’s a 1:5 scale model of the Tower; crew members are actual size

The 1:5 scale model of the Control Tower shows off

The 1:5 scale model of the Control Tower shows off

Mischief Lab's fine work-in-progress on the Tower's flame capability

Mischief Lab’s fine work-in-progress on the Tower’s flame capability

The base of the full-sized Tower taking shape

The base of the full-sized Tower taking shape

prepare