Burning Man 2005 Small PAGE 1 of 4

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(9/1/05 - 9/4/05)

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I went to Burning Man in September, 2005. If you have not heard of it, BurningMan is a week long festival that about 35,000 people attend that has a ton of modern art (a lot of the art is on fire), free expression, and more than a little bit of insanity going on (controlled, fun, but completely nutty).  The Burning Man festival is held in a remote desert north of Reno, on a dry lakebed called "the playa" (I've never the term "playa" used outside of Burning Man).  If you are curious about the history of Burning Man or what it means, click here for a good timeline and description.

Pictures and video from this trip in 2005 are found below.  At Burning man I met up with a few friends there like Gleb Budman, James Fleishman, Christine, Emil, Melissa Criqui, Chris Pirazzi, Tom Davis, Katherine Chung, and others.  Click on any of the photos below for a TRULY ENORMOUS version, especially the panoramas. This was my third trip to Burning Man.  In 2000 I went with Ramey Echt, Stuart Cheshire, and Pavni Diwanji, and then again in 2001 with Kim Jacobson, Jason Knight, and a few others.

I rented an RV from "Cruise America" which is about the equivalent of Hertz Rent-A-Car for RVs.  Below is my 25 foot RV parked in Palo Alto before I left.


Once you get to Burning Man, you find an open spot to camp anywhere in "Black Rock City", which is the name of the temporary city of 35,000 people that is setup during Burning Man.  Below is a map of the city streets and the general layout of Black Rock City.  Notice that the street names are all "A", "B", "C", "D"...  etc, and that the cross streets are wall clock times from 2:00 through 10:00 (pronounced "two o'clock through ten o'clock") which makes it easy to navigate the city.  My RV was parked at "5:50 and Hysteria".


Ok, once I was at Burning Man, my RV was parked, I walked around and took a few pictures.   On the playa there is a lot of dust, and it is VERY common to see people in goggles and face masks, like the guy below in a small dust storm.


This is a light dust storm (there were heavy ones) out on the Playa.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.


Below is a picture of the "playa surface", which is an ancient dry lakebed, extremely flat, very hard surface, ideal for bicycles during Burning Man.  Notice that NOTHING GROWS in this, it is a very hostile, dead, lifeless environment.  Some of the people who attend Burning Man make a big deal about "leaving no trace" and "don't ruin this environment", but it's my humble opinion this place has nothing at all to lose, and it would benefit greatly from a few condos, pavement, and a Starbucks Coffee here and there.  I'm dead serious, I've never seen any place on earth with less life, less worth preserving, this horrid place calls out to be tamed, paved, and civilized.  If we are willing to develop ANYWHERE, the very FIRST place should be on this useless chunk of god-forsaken land.  I guess the only down-side would be Burning Man would need to find someplace even worse to hold the festival, and I doubt that is possible.


A picture of the big "Burning Man" himself (2005).  The man burns on Saturday night, including the platform he is standing on.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.  This year, the platform the man stood on was a maze.  You enter by the door you see here below at the front, and then to get to the man's feet you had to navigate the maze.  Inside the maze it is filled with various modern art.


Here I am inside the maze below the Burning Man.  Some of the doors were these revolving plywood circles, you rotated them and would get access to a different set of rooms.


Here a person is rotating the circular doorways in the maze.


When I finally got through the maze and got to the top, you can look down into all the rooms and see people trying to find their way in or out.


This is taken inside the platform under "The Man" (the "Burning Man").  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.


A panorama of the playa taken from inside "The Burning Man".  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.


I saw this woman walking in front of me and took this photo.  This is a very "Burning Man" type of costume, she is wearing a bright red wig, and devil ears.  About 3 out of 4 people were wearing something funny or interesting like this.  As you look at these pictures, you can see all sorts of crazy, fun, interesting costumes people wear to Burning Man.


Below is a "G-Rated" (taken at a far distance so that no private body parts can be seen). This is an event that takes place where around 5,000 women bicycle topless across the desert.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.  The name of this event is derived from a famous San Francisco recurring protest called "Critical Mass" (started slowly in 1992, probably peaked around 1998 or so) where a mob of thousands of bicyclists disrupt traffic in San Francisco for no clear reason, other than to ask the government to make it easier on bicyclists in San Francisco or something like that.  Anyway, this is just a funny, free-expression spoof of that group.  The entire wall of activity you see in the distance are women not wearing any clothing above their waists on bicycles.  Everyone you see close up are wandering out in the desert to see this amusing spectacle.


I saw these two evil looking dudes at the above event, and really liked their look.  Click on the picture below to see a much larger version.  Notice they are on high tech stilts that are kind of springy.


Below is a picture of "Colossus" which is an interactive piece of art by Zachary Coffin.  This was right outside "Center Camp".  By working together, several strong people can get this monstrous device to spin around (see the ropes hanging from the enormous boulders).  Click on the photo for a MUCH larger version.


Below you can see a girl hanging from her rope as others spin the device around.  Click on the photo below for a MUCH larger version.


A little way away, in the "playa" (the main open space in the center of Black Rock City), you run into all sorts of crazy "art cars" that are driving around.  People put an ENORMOUS amount of effort into some of these, the one below is a walking, fire breathing giraffe that spits fire at night.  There is a guy perched on it's back controlling it, it can move up and down and side to side, and actually walks with independent legs across the desert.


Out on the playa (the center of the huge circle that is Black Rock City) are individual fixed art installations.  Most of these light up at night, usually with fire, propane, flames, etc.  Any photos you see here during the days are a sad, pale comparison to the very VERY cool and crazy look of these things at night.  Below is one of these installations where a circle of headless bodies spit flame out their necks and at night you can roast marsh mellows by playing with the steering wheel at the podium.


Random Playa picture.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.  Notice the art cars roving about, and the interesting costumes of people. 


This panorama was taken from on top of my RV at dusk.  Dusk is a very calm 30 minutes at Burning Man, right before everything goes absolutely nutty.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.  If you walk though the city during dusk, you can see everybody "getting ready" for going out at night.  This means they are still calm but dressing up in their craziest outfits, filling their water bottles (the desert is very dry and you need to drink water constantly), packing backpacks with jackets for when it gets cold later, supplies, etc.  Even though it is the quietest time, you can feel the excitement building as the flame-art out in the playa and dance parties are about to light up. 


A panorama of the inside of my RV.  Use your horizontal scrollbar to see the whole panorama.  Notice the "Baby Wipes" on the counter, very useful to get the dust off.


The "Couch Potato" art car out in the playa roaming about.  You can hop aboard most of these art cars and ride around with the creator, you can see the guy in the lower right of this photo reading a book wearing a breathing mask and goggles to keep the dust from bothering him too much.


Below is a picture of an art car at night.  This is a fire engine modified to have a flame thrower on the front (and it spits flame 15 feet up and away when a guy pulls a trigger).  This type of art car is a moving party platform.  It holds 20-30 people and has a very nice sound system playing dance music, and at night it roams around with people dancing on it (the standing woman facing away in the pink hat is dancing).


The next few pictures are all of the same art piece.  The first is of it during the day (so it is "off" and not burning).  That is a pile of kindling wood in the center, and at night these vertical metal blades are all "on fire".  This is a great example of how elaborate and how much effort the artists are setting these up, just for a one week long festival.  NOTE ADDED LATER: I am told that the artists are an organization called "Flaming Lotus Girls", and here is their website that mentions this art: http://flaminglotus.com/ornith/ and also http://www.flaminglotus.com/photographs/2005/index.html 


Below is the same piece of art as above, from the same perspective, but at night.  The metal blade posts are normally on "low flame", but the artist (from the group "Flaming Lotus Girls") is somewhere around pulling triggers and any one of the posts can ERUPT into a geyser of flame like the one in the center below.  One of the funnier parts of this are all the people are sitting on the kindling.  Also, this is essentially a dance club at night, with dance music playing loudly and people can stay nice and toasty warm dancing around in between these flaming blade metal posts.  It was GORGEOUS. 


Another post erupting in flame, VERY cool, very exciting.  At night you get this burst of light, a huge wave of heat, and a big feeling of how powerful this piece of art is.


Several of the metal blade posts can erupt at once, here is one eruption I caught in a photo.


Another random photo.


Last photo of this flaming art.



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