Burning Man 2006
Last updated: September 12, 2006.
Note: A larger version of any image can be obtained by clicking on it.
This is a very preliminary web page, but at least all the photos are here.
This year, the theme was "Hope and Fear". There were various places you could "vote" for hope or fear, including in a room under The Man. If more hope was registered, the man rose higher, and more fear lowered him. In the image on the left, I am pictured with the arrow slightly into the fear range, and a corresponding photo of the man shows that the bottom of his legs are invisible.
Being a cynic, I think it was rigged, of course. On the final day, The Man was at his highest point.
This year, the temple was in its usual place with respect to the man, but unlike in previous years, the temple was not the structure that dominated.
I'll bet that the people who built this cathedral thought that they would have the largest structure at Burning Man, but they were also wrong.
The Belgian "Waffle"
By far the most interesting structure on the playa this year was the one pictured above, officially called something like "Message from the Future", but unofficially called "The Belgian Waffle" by almost everyone. It was huge, and was constructed by a large camp of Belgians, and rumors had it that they were supported to the tune of between $250,000 and $500,000, either by the Belgian government, or by some other Belgian organization.
The first photo above is of the Belgian's camp.
It was built of thousands of 2x3 planks, nailed together with nail guns, and it took on a very organic form. At the end, after the temple was burned on Sunday, the waffle was burned, and it was said to be the largest fire ever on the playa. We missed the fire, having left early on Sunday morning, but people who saw it said that the fire was intense.
Here is a link to a video of the fire:
X Marks the Spot
One of our campmates, Greg, had an art project called "X Marks the Spot". The "X" marked a trap-door far out on the playa with a "treasure chest" under it. Since the door was basically flush with the ground, and the art was originally placed far from any other structures, it took some luck to stumble across it by accident. (Later in the week a Tiki Bar was set up nearby, and probably many of the bar visitors found the trap door.) People could take or leave "treasure", and could leave notes. As the week went on, the contents of the box changed every day.
In the leftmost image above is Greg with his box. The next two show the trapdoor being opened, and the contents of the box at one particular instant.
Cat's Cradle was a nice jungle-gym that was so solidly-built that the artist (who is pictured in the first photo above) claimed that up to 35 people could climb on it at once. We first encountered it before it was finished (the first five photos), and the last two photos were taken days later, after hundreds of people had had time to wrap it in a spider-web of ropes and string.
Interesting rope work, and huge pieces of bamboo. Must have cost a fortune ...
As of the dates of Burning Man, 2006, approximately 2600 Americans had been killed in Iraq, and this memorial consisted of a cross for each of them. On the back of each cross was identifying information for that individual.
I came across this artwork while it was still being set up, and about 900 crosses were in place. I helped set about 250 more of them and then went on my way. There were always two or three volunteers helping.
The photos above were taken a few days later, after all the crosses were in place.
More Anti-War Stuff
"Peace though pork" in the middle east, and Dubya, captured by terrorists.
Snake by the Flaming Lotus Girls
Nice work: the snake was guarding her egg. The snake's body was articulated, and could writhe a bit, and flames shot from each vertebra at night.
We went to the opening celebration for this artwork, and although the fireworks were nice, they were about 45 minutes late, and we got awfully tired of waiting with nothing going on.
The Most Dangerous Thing on the Playa
This little item had a seat for a human with what appeared to be a small jet engine mounted behind him, and on the opposite arm was an airplane engine. As the person sped up, the arms lifted off the ground.
I guessed that the arms were about 7 meters long, and at full speed, the victim was spinning at about one revolution per 1.25 seconds, for a total force of about 4 G's. ... And he wasn't wearing a G-suit.
We only watched one rider who appeared to pass out from the force, and was seen vomiting at the end. The whole thing seemed dangerous as hell. There was a fence around it that wouldn't have stopped anything if something had torn loose and the whole apparatus tumbled across the desert.
I met a guy who had watched a bunch of "rides", and he said that the central structure had started to vibrate, so the artists were all in the middle, hanging on it, so that their weight would help keep it stable. I figure if it was shaking, it was ready to break. A couple of nights later it was not running. Perhaps folks with better sense shut it down -- I don't know.
Random Unlabeled (so far) Playa Art
This was a group art project by members of our camp. A nice description can be found in the middle of this page in the section called "Homeland Security Checkpoint".