A fascinating new documentary created for the BBC iPlayer video platform features some great footage of a young John Perry Barlow. It traces the last 40 years of history through a counter-cultural lens.
“You were so much a part of the system that it was impossible to see beyond it…the fakeness was hypernormal”
Black Rock City was designed by Rod Garrett, a member of the Beat Generation. His apprentice Andrew Johnstone from American Steel took over Rod’s role when he passed away, becoming Design Steward of the Man. He designs The Man Base every year with Larry Harvey.
His side project is to address the $20 billion a year in the US ($100 billion worldwide) being spent wasted removing graffiti. Give the kids paintbrushes, and save on aerosol cans; give them permission, and turn them into artists. This is art literally transforming peoples’ lives.
An amazing project, Mr Johnstone deserves to be commended. This seems to be exactly the type of thing that the Burning Man Project was granted a tax exemption for. Andrew has a @burningman.org address, he’s definitely an insider. So why haven’t we heard anything about this at burningman.org? Why no glowing stories in the BJ?
Perhaps it is because the last thing anyone would want to do with at-risk teenagers is bring them to Burning Man, and expose them to the world’s biggest market of temptation, where everything is free including sex, drugs, and EDM.
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?