Burning Man 2016: Da Vinci’s Workshop

“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 medievalism 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.

Turning Man illustration by Andrew Johnstone
Theme and text by Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum. Illustration by Andrew Johnstone.

The parallels between these two precocious cities are remarkable. Of all the cities of the Renaissance, Florence is perhaps most notable for a new kind of social mobility; not only was it governed democratically, it was also possible for artists to rise through the ranks of society by apprenticing in workshops led by master craftsmen who belonged to guilds. Botticelli was the son of a tanner, and any persevering artist might ascend from humble origins to gain the status of a culture hero, one whose work might be commissioned by the wealthy Wool Guild or be paid for by princes or popes. In the name of art, class barriers were cast aside.

Florentines were famous for their love of beauty – not only for the value they attached to public art, but for their love of costume, pageantry, and an idealized admiration of the human body as a measure of all things. 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 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.

Florentine guild ensignia
The Medici Lion flanked by insignia of the Merchant, Wool, Silk and Stonemason guilds

The signature of Florence was its civic pride. As much as this was marked by popular participation, it was also manifested through philanthropy. Lorenzo de Medici was a leader of Florence’s first family. A poet, a banker and a politician, he was famous for befriending artists and advancing their careers. This same pattern of philanthropy has long been a part of the little-known history of Black Rock City. 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. To quote from Leonardo’s notebook, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

This essay is the first in a series of blog posts that will explore aspects of the 2016 theme. Details of our 2016 Honoraria Art Grant program will be announced soon on the Burning Man website.

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

155 Comments on “Burning Man 2016: Da Vinci’s Workshop

  • Sandstorm says:

    Yes! Finally we techie millionaires are getting the respect we deserve! Thank you Larry for taking a beautiful event centered on the creativity of the individual and transforming it into yet another celebration of money! Well done! I’m so excited to see how this plays out and how we can celebrate, honor and adorate money and those who have accumulated large amounts of money. Clearly this is the most important aspect of Burning Man and clearly it hasn’t been celebrated enough.

    Maybe we could make little badges for those who donate more than $1 million for an art project or better throw a big party for those who donate more than $1million for the Burning Man Project… Oh wait, we already do that…

    Report comment

    • Dave says:

      Sarcasm really helps.

      Report comment

    • Hard Fork says:

      Isn’t it time for you to troll somewhere else? Your negative energies towards BM look childish at this point. What is it, the third year of you whining about this same topic? Lame.

      Love this theme and enjoying where BM is and where it’s going! ;D

      Report comment

      • Peace says:

        I love this theme, but he has a point, it gives money a role it has never had at Burning Man. I’m all for celebrating the thousands and thousands who support the artists of Burning Man. I just don’t think it’s right to celebrate someone because they have a bigger capacity to give than someone else.

        Report comment

      • skeptic says:

        “As a dog returns to his own vomit..” At least you’re consistent.

        Report comment

      • David Kalinowski says:

        Hard Fork: FYI, this it the “real” Sandstorm, not the person who wrote the above comment that you replied to. I know about the above comment only because a Burner friend of mine PMd today and asked me if I wrote the above post. I’m no longer part of the online Burner community. I went to BM this year, had a great time and when I got back to the default world I removed myself from almost all of the FB BM groups. I long ago said what I had to say about my issues with Larry & Co. I’m completely done tooting that horn. I’m also done dealing with the bad attitudes and unhinged personalities present in the online Burner community. If I continue to go to BM it will done minus/separate from prism of the online Burner community. So, while you may like using me as a punching bag I can’t take credit for the above post written under the name “Sandstorm”. Have a good day. :)

        Report comment

    • Lionheart says:

      Yea because materials and supplies for aspiring artists worldwide just appear out of thin air…no money or resources required!

      What kind of douche are you. Go home, please.

      Report comment

      • Bruce says:

        Like it or not, Burning Man was never an inexpensive thing to do. I like to think that the role money plays here is one of enhancement for everyone. When an artist raises thousands of dollars for a really cool project, we all benefit. Over my 13 burns, I have improved my participation each year because I had more resources to put into it. I’m hoping millionaires really step up and pour $ into art projects. That would be so cool! Anyway that’s my .02

        Report comment

    • Wolfbear says:

      In 2013, I couldn’t tell my north from my south as the man turned around and around. This year, I won’t be able to tell my up from my down. God help us all.

      Report comment

    • Simon Sackville-West says:

      “Churls are always with us. Curmudgeons are never slow to come forward.”

      – Peter Shaffer, “Lettice and Lovage”

      Report comment

    • Ifellfromthesky says:

      I agree ….I also tthink his theme is passively celebrating bman wealth and its rich silicon valley participants.
      .the really messed up thing about it, is the BMORG really thinks that they are in league with the likes of Davinci ..and comparing a drug fueled rich persons tech rave party to a real culture such as Florence Italy is a bit out there.

      Report comment

      • Gerflash says:

        A bit of cognitive dissonance? Denying the role of capitalism in Florence and Burning Man is like denying the role of Oxygen in the growth of life. All this while still shelling out willingly for our BM tix, our iPhones, Priuses, and all the rest. You are so tiresome, I’m just….zzzzzzz.

        Report comment

    • Yourmom says:

      You can always tell a troll by their monitoring of a blog so they can be the first to comment and berate the very thing they are monitoring and obsessed by. Sandstorm cant stand.the tech rave drug fueld valley rich boy party, but sure does closely monitor the blog. Tired and old, this behavior is.

      Report comment

    • Timeless says:

      Hey Sandstorm! I say to your lovely post: I’m sorry I don’t get it…

      Ever performed a self-funded art installation? As one who has provided many to our playa, I say — Whew!!! It’s about time folks realize it’s not really magic (well kinda;)

      So thank you Larry Harvey for seeing a greater vision… My own vision for funding art based on its own investment value has been in the works for years and is now BMorg approved… Click my link above, Sandstorm, maybe you can put the bill this time…

      Report comment

    • Bob says:

      What the actual fuck are you talking about?

      Report comment

    • Camille says:

      I love it! I am Canadian who has been living in Florence for the last 3 years….and wowie! Let me tell you…. The Medici family funded everything! So the Great is so interconnected with the Supporter. From the funds of the Medici, Michelangelo was funded for life.
      And the piazzas!!! This is such a wonderful thing! The squares where people gather, hangout and provide their commerce.
      The underlaying them is surely money! But yet again, it all comes down to a type of energy transfer at the end of the day. And in these days, we explore the digital vs the analog of our connectivity and how we commence as a species.
      <3

      Report comment

    • Ty says:

      I have been going to Burning Man for 17 years. I have seen Truly Mind-Blowing things out there…….things that changed my life. HUNDREDS of those fantastic creations were done by people who have almost no money, and spent almost no money. Money is not what defines good work. It is the artistry and persistence that wins our hearts and minds. Try it. You might be surprised how much fun it is. Presenting something fabulous is the only way you will convert people to your viewpoint. Whining just looks empty.

      Report comment

  • David says:

    Wow. Some people just can’t wait to cast negativity, honing in on one aspect and magnifying it disproportionately to trumpet their hurt feelings in yet another rendering of “oh, it’s not like it was… you’re ruining it.”

    I’m excited to hear the plans for next year, and think the idea of a rotating Vitruvian (Burning) Man is an inspired one.

    Report comment

  • redBone says:

    I take it the Medici camps will all be on K street?

    Report comment

  • Whitfield (Icon) says:

    GAH! You had me and you lost me! I love the base concept, I’ve been a huge fan of this man for most of my life and have always tried to embody his creative spirit. But I’m SO disappointed that you fell into the culturally-entrenched-but-still-stupid practice of referring to him as “da Vinci”!

    His name was Leonardo. That’s it. Leonardo. He was *from* Vinci. To refer to him as “da Vinci” is to refer to anyone from the city of Vinci. Why do we not refer to his famous rival as Michelangelo di Lodovico? Or even just “di Ludovico”? Maybe because it’s harder to pronounce, but that doesn’t make it any more logical or appropriate to use “da Vinci” for Leonardo. Note the number of times he’s referred to as the former here (spoiler: none):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci#Fame_and_reputation

    I’m so disappointed that such a forward-thinking and carefully-planned organization as BMORG would make this unnecessary and disrespectful choice. Literally every attendant would take the same meaning from “Leonardo’s Workshop.” Please consider making a correction here.

    Report comment

  • Ranger MUDFLAP says:

    Brilliant! I am down with the 2016 theme. All hail the Turning Man and long may he turn. And the Devil take the hindmost. Unless I am the aforementioned hindmost, that is. In that case let the Devil take the next-to-hindmost.

    Report comment

  • Major Blaze says:

    I am very excited about this new theme. Knowing many makers, this will be a lot of fun. This will be my 12th year. You can embrace it or find fault, and yes patrons have always be a necessity, it might be thousands of people with a little money or some wealthy who help in different ways. There are several art cars that have made my burns very fun owned by well to do, and I also love the low cost creative ones too. There is room for both and those in-between. If you don’t like the processes and visions of this organization, start a new festival and learn how difficult it can be. Regionals are a blast…

    Report comment

  • Radar says:

    There will always be critics… Ignore them, fore their only contribution is the incessant drone of their own negativity. Do they create? No. Do they offer positive alternatives? No they do not. What then is their purpose? What then is their aim?

    Report comment

    • Cinquecento kid says:

      They’re aim is to make us think more deeply about our project. Branding an event as a confluence of forces echoing High Renaissance Florence is just that – branding. It is not merely a group of factors but a historical moment – specific conditions in a temporal context – that created Florence and informed Leonardo’s work, not just creativity, money, and entrepreneurship. The superficiality of this Burning Man is indeed of magnificent proportions and is matched only by the utter lack of historicity and humility.

      Report comment

  • tom mallard says:

    I hope to have a human-powered helicopter to demo for this year’s event, something most cyclists can handle powering & can glide so the pilot can rest in the air …

    Report comment

  • Robinita says:

    Great concept. Too bad that time and place also represented incredible oppression of women. *sigh*. May have to make an art piece about it…

    Report comment

  • RamonaMayhem says:

    love lovE loVE lOVE LOVE it! Such an invitation for all artists (Everyone!) to spring forth and pour energies into a creative project! Wheels turning in my braincase are already brewing up sandstorm of ideas. Excited! :)*(:

    Report comment

  • Morgus says:

    I like it. Technological yet artistic, historical, and perhaps a bit Bohemian. Medieval steam punk maybe. Hopefully lots of wood and leather gear like creations.

    Report comment

  • michelle geil says:

    We all contribute to creating Burning Man by our many contributions, including money – those tickets aren’t free! Money itself is not an evil. What matters is what we can create with it, be it patronizing the arts, participating in Burning Man (which is by its very nature participatory), and everything in between. Da Vinci himself had his detractors, yet his inspired and prescient creations survived the centuries and inspire us still.

    Report comment

  • Amazing Grace! says:

    How sweet the sound. Fortunately or unfortunately, except for the cave drawings, it has always been about money, where the arts (and sciences) are concerned. It took money to make those cathedrals and public works; it takes money to be patrons of the arts, to support the artist. It takes money to do scientific research, and it takes a certain leisure and emancipation from the paycheck and the drudgery of work to afford the time and space to do the creative work. That is the reality. So, yes, let’s applaud the artists and the givers and sharers of wealth.

    Report comment

  • Icon says:

    My carefully constructed comment was… rejected? It was posted long before most of these. What gives?

    Report comment

  • Rio says:

    Wow. Very cool. But what if it gets loose and starts rolling through the city?
    I think I’ll call it Rolling Man.

    Report comment

  • Brandymanjoe says:

    Sandstorm seems to have sand in his eyes, mind and heart….I REALLY like the theme and proposition….I will fully involve myself and together with like minds will contribute to the artistic creation of 2016 Burning Man….can I get a grant from Sandstorm? :-)

    Report comment

  • Chad says:

    I for one have never been to Burning Man. I do plan to be there in 2016. Hopefully I don’t run into those people who spread their negative ideologies. I don’t care what’s in your bank account. I thought this was a place where people from all walks of life can come together and enjoy life for what it is. If you build awesome vehicles to show off or you hitchhike to the festivities. Put you biases in your back pocket enjoy yourself. Take that to the bank.

    Report comment

    • 171/348 says:

      Remember to come back here and re-read this after you’ve been to a burn… It’ll be a good laugh.

      Report comment

    • Brodi Wan says:

      It is that place. It’s also the off season. So a portion of our community for some reason like to gripe about all that is Burning Man. Trust me, it’s nothing like that inside the gates. It’s pretty fantastic.

      Report comment

  • Yoki says:

    Sandstorm: Maybe it’s about becoming ‘ok’ with money, and transforming the way we see and feel about it, seeing money as the medium for transfering energy from the inspiration channeled to our spirit and the immediate physical reality … isn’t that what Burning Man is ALSO about … Trans-formation. #burnjudgement #burninsecurity #burnshame
    A creator does not complain about his tools, he makes do with what he has. Give an artist money, he will build a statue with it and light it on fire so to set it free.

    Report comment

  • Dan says:

    I love Leonardo!!

    Report comment

  • sierrahiker68 says:

    WooHoo! Burn the man upside down!

    Report comment

  • Atlas says:

    This is a great Theme, I cant wait to get started on tunics and robes and togas. I truly don’t understand why the first comment is so dark. Non the less, I for one am looking forward to my third year. Good morrow Burners, see you in the dust. :-)

    Report comment

  • freshied says:

    Damn I had some big money riding on Fertility 3.0 as the theme. Time to go cut my ear off. Wait was that Leonardo or Michangelo? Oh must have been one of those Ninja Turtles.

    Report comment

  • Cliff says:

    Bravo! This is a great theme that encompasses all that I love about Burning Man! And thank you for the relatively early release of the 2016 art theme!

    Report comment

  • Tomâs Ó Flaithearta says:

    I’m just looking forward to my second burn and I’ll make of it what I experience and leave the opinions and commentary to others.

    Report comment

  • Roddy Somerville says:

    A great idea, celebrating a wonderful era of artistic expression with a Hugh wealth of artistic history , fashion and industrial growth.
    I’m very excited at this new theme.
    As for negativity about money, oppression, fame, etc I believe that only positive collective comments and contributions are relevant.
    People seem to take great delight in nit picking.
    If I could be More involved by giving money or being involved with my enormous r creative and artistic skills I would jump at the opportunity.
    So people study this theme and pull out all stops to celebrate this wonderful opportunity .
    ❤️❤️

    Report comment

  • Mr. Clean says:

    Burning man has always been about the community and the art. Embrace the principals, participate, embrace the community, all of the community. Be the best you can be and help your neighbor be the best they can be for burning man. Participate, participate.

    Report comment

  • Paece says:

    I am very excited to hear Florence is the model for this year’s Burning Man. I am absolutely one hundred percent against celebrating the wealthy folks who support art at Burning Man. It is one of the most insulting and ill thought out ideas I’ve ever heard coming out of the org, and please note I am typically a supporter. The Burner who makes $25K a year and gives $100 to an art project is making a much bigger sacrifice than Mark Zuckerburg would be making if he donated $100,000. You aren’t celebrating generosity, you are celebrating capacity, and it is bringing all the problems of the default world and its obsession with money strait to the playa. I don’t know what you were smoking when you thought of this or how you could possibly see it as anything other than a slap in the face to every run of the mill Burner out there. I appreciate those who give generously to provide art at Burning Man, but that includes the wealthy and poor alike and you shouldn’t select out one group to honor.

    Report comment

    • RamonaMayhem says:

      I’m such said Burner who makes around 25k a year and donates several hundred to various projects (This year the Blunderwood Typewriter being a super favorite). I don’t see it as a sacrifice. I feel it is a contribution of support and enthusiasm. I love the creativity. It is Never a sacrifice.

      Report comment

    • G says:

      The first burn I attended in ’03, I was struck even then by how much money was being spent on the communal effort that gave BRC it’s form and substance, which happened to be noticeably less extravagant than what it has since evolved into. BRC is a creative community, that welcomes everyone from the wealthiest to the not so wealthy. I will hark back to last year’s plug and play controversy and say IMHO, wealthy folks are more than welcome to BRC to contribute and participate along the lines do the ten principles. On the other hand, coming to BRC exploit it and get rich is apostasy.

      Report comment

  • Diane Wynne says:

    To celebrate creativity is to celebrate the Goddess. The goddess exists as part of the twin flame in both woman and man. To recall a time on Earth in which creativity, proactivity, science, engineering and philanthropy were fostered collaboratively is appropriate at this moment in time as we are presently evolving back to the future. All of consciousness springs from Love and Light. Love is creation and Light is information. My experiences at Burning Man have always been enriched by its beauty and creativity, and to celebrate geometry as well is a natural direction as all of creation can be reduced to the same; science. I applaud your thoughtful choice. I suppose one concern I have regarding Burning Man is that this year, 2015, I am seeing a divide emerging between “haves” and “have nots.” I found myself reluctant to participate is some events surrounding DJ’s and “celebrity” camps as I had the notion that I would be unwelcome. This could be a result of my own “mind chatter,” yet since I felt it, the vibration was present. Wouldn’t it be wonderful and so in keeping with Burning Man Principles, if we all felt welcome anywhere at Burning Man because of mutual respect and trust?

    Report comment

  • Anne Stern says:

    Hey, we need seriously to truly thank BMORG for the hard work that goes into every aspect of this event, including picking an art theme. Anyone think that’s easy? Or does anyone think it’s easy to satisfy tens of thousands of people with a choice like this? ‘Cause I don’t. I’m tremendously grateful – no joke at all – for the generosity and pain that BMORG puts into this for everyone each year. Peace.

    Report comment

  • Lazlo says:

    Love it! Can’t wait.

    Report comment

  • Fessenger says:

    Now I say this as this last year was my first time, but I’ve been watching Burning Man from afar for years: I’m under the opinion that the BORG has always designed year after year an environment where people can explore a world that addresses their concerns for the future, in its most fundamental way. And the growing volume of philanthropic wealthy patrons is something I’d be concerned about too. But there’s something here to address: when the dark ages hit and everyone suddenly became very poor, what was it that brought Europe out of its technological, economic, and cultural slump? And just about any historian can point to Florence Italy as the epicenter of that explosion of culture, the development of the “craft class”, and the technological fervor that brought it all on.
    And this too, is what’s happened in the last 20 years: the middle class has been stripped down, and the median lifestyle has been split between those that have and those that haven’t. And rather, I think focusing on what can be created, what positive development that might be designed, deliberately by the outside force that the BORG is, from this dichotomous situation to turn the tide of that regress. And I totally approve of this.

    Report comment

  • U'Haul says:

    Great theme, will inspire the best in most of us, and probably piss off a few people who desperately need something to bitch about. Can’t wait to head home for my 18th burn! If anyone needs a reminder of the playa newspaper in 2000, (the last time we had a massive, temporary infusion of tech wealth in BRC) it went like this: “Have the Dot.Coms (with all their elaborate sound camps) ruined Burningman? Yes, and isn’t it cool!?” Looking forward to enjoying and celebrating everyone’s contributions.

    Report comment

  • Manky says:

    Donating to an NPO offers tax credits.
    NPOs are required to comply with ADA

    Report comment

  • Phoenix says:

    FANTASTIC theme!! It’s the first time (after 6 burns) I want to participate in a project around the theme (HUGE Leonardo Da Vinci fan). I’m not sure how, but the thinking is starting. As for the people with money…..realistically, they are the people with power, and Burning Man is an opportunity to show them what life can be like in a different place spiritually, physically, mentally and monetarily. If we don’t teach them, who will? WE are the ones in power there, and to share with them empowers them to learn and continue on that path. I say we should embrace the opportunity, and what better way than making them a part of things? Again, a brilliant theme. Thanks!!

    Report comment

  • foam says:

    Hmm, Responding to comments at the top- generally negative.

    I’d suggest the late historian Lisa Jardin’s work “Wordly Goods:A New History of the Renaissance” (see https://books.google.com/books/about/Worldly_Goods.html?id=H5n4XPKkytQC)

    It’s a well researched insightful (her own insights) work about how commerce/money drove the Renaissance. (the late Ms. Jardin was Jacob Bronwoski’s daughter.)

    Other things were of import during that time, of course. And of course Stuart and Lary know this… I love the theme but -fer instance-get pangs when we leave out that mirror salesmen , turned printer, ,Gutenberg who was a little earlier and a little farther north when he introduced moveable type to the west. There’s a great scholarly work-dry at times but encycolpedic- about that impact called “The Printing Press and an Agent of Change by Elizabeth Eisenstein (see https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Printing_Press_as_an_Agent_of_Change.html?id=WUVdAAAAQBAJ)

    Of course, I just get all dreamy when I think about Italo Calvino’s multipel versions of Venice depicted for the Khan in Inivisible Cities. All of those cities were all Venice and all of those description remind my of the playa.

    “You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

    Report comment

  • foam says:

    And everyone should take a deep dive into the history of La Specola, just across the Ponte Vecchio, and also be inspired by Galileo’s finger, interred in its very own reliquary like case so it could point to god and the Pope. This objet is also in Florence in what is now called the Galileo Museum…has as many amazing treasures as the Uffizzi and some instruments rival those in the Vatican collections. here’s a link to the figer in the museum collections….of course, there are MANY astounding things there. http://catalogue.museogalileo.it/gallery/MiddleFingerGalileosRightHand.html

    Report comment

  • Dustino da Noe Valley says:

    meraviglioso ! originale ! divertente! rendono le Greeters imparare l’italiano.

    Report comment

  • Lori says:

    A gathering of talented loving caring individuals come together as one to share their love of of peace harmony and talent no many the dollars signs,where everyone is equal,and contribute in different. Ways for the good of all concerned

    Report comment

  • Tender Wizard says:

    Theme is awesome, Sandstorm a weird (troll). As far as $$ and benefactors, who cares? When we are in BRC we are all beneficiaries of the benefactors, and get to exist in a wonderful parallel universe as equals.
    Thank you BMORG 4 continuing 1 more year.

    Report comment

  • Davide says:

    Cool, as Italian I can only be happy and say I got educated about this theme basically all my life long. Reading the comments I was also impressed how so many foreign people deeply know the Rinascimento (I can’t spell it properly in english). And i’m sure that’s not only for the Assassin’s Creed or the DaVinci Code.
    So I’m already looking forward to attend next year and see how it will feel living the Burning Man experience influenced by part of my country colture :)

    Report comment

  • Justin says:

    “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Report comment

  • champagne says:

    Well, it’s clearly thought provoking. First impression: Wow, cool. Second: Arrogant. But, we’ve always celebrated the creative side of art, perhaps it is time to celebrate the resources that bring art to fruition.

    Report comment

  • Katrin says:

    I think we all know that neither Renaissance Florence nor Burning Man were/ are perfect. What I like about this theme is that it is trying to emphasize the civic spirit and the importance of working all together to create an inspiring environment. My main problem with the big money donors over the last years was that it was all so hidden and exclusive. So it seems like a good idea to make it public and put it out in the open (and giving them a little love rather than shaming them for giving their money), so that everybody can get something out of it.

    Report comment

  • Huggy bear says:

    This theme and thread couldn’t be more perfect, from the first post and beyond. Leonardo da Vinci is a brilliant foundational theme, and I’m inspired. Yes, the Playa will always have negative energy, sometimes starting at the airport, Reno, greeter station, or even some enterprising troll. Thank you, sandstorm, for reminding all of us that each of us bears the ongoing responsibility for deciding how we react to bags of shit, unhappily left behind by others. Hey, I see another bag somewhere else…da Vinci inspired, offered by some authentic and creative person ready for positive engagement…

    Report comment

  • Christina says:

    BMORG has a tough job as evidenced by these responses. Thank you releasing the theme! I am very inspired as an artist and can’t wait to see if I get granted this year- so I can actually MAKE my art! :D I look forward to bringing something BIG.

    Report comment

  • lifeisshort says:

    Is it really that bad if Burning Man is indeed becoming a play ground for the wealthy…… who wants poor friends anyhow ;)

    Report comment

  • Akela says:

    Great theme. There will always be vocal detractors and naysayers and complainers. You won’t hear it from me. This will be my fifth year, and I’m real stoked about the Turning Man.

    As far as the never-ending complaints about rich people and their influence on the event…where exactly do you think the big, awesome art we all love so much comes from? Crowdfunding $10 at a time absolutely helps, but it’s not enough. Without the donors that drop ten grand because they really believe in an artist and his/her vision, the art couldn’t be so big or beautiful. The rest of us (and trust me, I fit in with the rest of us–my 2014 income was less than 20k) benefit from their generosity. It’s not like support from the super wealthy degrades the art–they are literally making possible things that would otherwise be impossible, for the greater benefit of the community. The analogy to renaissance patronage seems apt as far as I can tell (though I have limited knowledge of European history, so don’t hold me to that). And, please keep in mind that any artist, regardless of budget or scale, is welcome to bring his/her art. No one is turning them away for not being grand or well-funded enough.

    In my opinion, all of the talk of how money has destroyed the event is vastly overblown. Plug and plays, weekenders, and the private jet crowd might be lame, but I’ve never once, in any way, had my experience negatively affected by them. I’ve never been excluded, I’ve never been looked down on, I’ve never had any sort of ugly interaction. In fact, I’ve had the opportunity to educate some people that don’t initially “get” the gift/participation/inclusion principles, and see the light bulb come on in their heads. It’s a rewarding feeling, spreading the culture further. For the rich bucket-listers who continue to not get it…I feel bad for them, but they’re not hurting me. They’re not ruining my burn. If you weren’t being told that they exist and that you should be outraged, would they be ruining yours? Leave them to their walled castles, and focus on what you want YOUR burn to be.

    Report comment

  • Black Rock Horse says:

    The lead off commentator is not a troll. The sarcasm was on point. I almost wondered if BM was being sarcastic in its announcement. Trashing this commentator misses the point.

    DaVinci is quoted here as saying that the “doing” was more important than “willing”. And so it is with money. Money is passive, yet it is powerful. To say that the big money at Burning Man has not had a negative influence on the BRC is a bit asleep. The Medicis were important patrons, but often unreliable friends. Ask the folks they had murdered.

    Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean your an asshole, but relying on being rich as your identity, and using it as your principle lever of power diminishes the principles of Burning Man and democracy in general.

    We’re living through a moment of enormous and disturbing dislocations.The coast of California is being over-run by gentrification, as is Burning Man. The trouble with gentrification is that the wealthy newcomers not only want to fix up the buildings, but they want to deport/export the population that created the vibe of the place that made it attractive in the first place. The logic – which also applies to Burning Man – goes like this: “if you paid millions, then you don’t want to put up with (fill in the blank).” This is the trouble – the rich gentrifiers think their money insulates them from the responsibility of being as self-sufficient as the rest of us. They don’t want to deal with the unpleasant parts of life. They can buy solutions, and never be part of the solutions, or own the consequences of them. It is all out-sourced, but because they signed the check, they take the credit. That is passive, and corrosive.
    Yes we need money to make these projects. And, like the actual human – Leonardo DaVinci, you have to be conversant with your patrons, but you cannot become like your patrons, because then you lose the imperative to create, to “do” and to make.

    My own view is that smart people who are rich, just happen to be rich, they don’t act rich, or use it as a fortress to surround themselves. Their wealth is invisible to their companions because they don’t use it as a crutch or a cudgel. In my humble opinion, it is shallow to rely on your wealth and income for your identity.

    Florence is and was an amazing place. So is Burning Man. Failure to recognize the corruption and corrosion made possible by the wealth in both places, in both times, is ignorant. To say that the ambiance of the Burning Man and hence our experience of the event has not been altered by the influence of money is a bit myopic. Saluting the “patrons” seems a detour for the organization. Let’s hope they get back on the right road.

    Report comment

    • Peace says:

      The write up suggests the way patrons will be “honored” is by working with the artists they support to build a special “plaza” to be enjoyed by all of Burning Man. It almost sounds like they are trying to prevent complaints about pay and pay camps they are building one for everyone.

      Report comment

      • Swiss Frank says:

        Guys, we have to stop hating the rich. Look, I’m a burner and I’m also a wealthy person. I do well principally because I have the ability to create value for others. But in my experience, the raw pursuit of money alone never works out. Ask any rich person how they made it and you’ll likely hear them tell a sincere story that includes elements of struggle, risk, loss, sleepless nights, health compromises, etc. In my experience people don’t ‘get rich’ but they might become wealthy as a result of believing in something first…and then they go for it against all odds. Money may come later, usually much later – or not at all.
        My first burn was in 2010 and one of my ‘gear purchases’ was a brand new Jeep Rubicon with another 10K in aftermarket goodies installed. Yup, I was one of those uninformed rich assholes who just rolled in to party. I had no idea that the experience would change me in profound ways.
        I’ve since found a camp that I love. They are probably unaware of my wealth and I honestly don’t think they care. Anyway, I sleep in a tent by choice because it puts me closer to my friends and it’s more spiritually grounding. I use a portion of my income to support BM projects and to help individual burners in need. And this is why it’s painful when people paint all rich people with the same stinky brush – or worse, think that somehow rich people are not able to learn and change. Anyway, I care for my family, my friends and complete strangers alike. My personal view is that we should be encouraging rich people to attend. I may be the exception, but I don’t think so. In the company of so much love and generosity, a rich person at Burning Man may come to despise who they are and what they value. Then they can decide what to do with that information, hideout in their luxury camper or face their new reality and become part of this army of love.

        Report comment

      • R says:

        I agree with Swiss Frank.

        When Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, He wasn’t referring to the amount of wealth a person has, but to their attitude toward that wealth.
        If you put your faith in your riches then you are putting faith in yourself. If you think outside of yourself and use your riches to help others, then you are welcome in Heaven, (and Burning Man) no matter how much money you have.

        My analogy is, to think otherwise you would have to draw a line to show how much makes you a “rich person” Where is the cut off? If I make$58,487. a year am I rich and not welcome? But if I make $58,486.99 am I now welcome? Or do I have to make $98,746 a year to be rich? Or, does it have to be over a million? Who decides?

        Report comment

      • Peace says:

        Swiss, it isn’t about hating anyone. I don’t hate the rich. I make more money than most. I’m the rarest of the rare these days…upper middle class. I’m not saying we don’t honor those who support artists, I’m saying we don’t honor the rich OVER anyone else. In your list of how you got rich I notice you left out luck, which in my experience is always part of someone’s success. What you have that another Burner who contributes doesn’t have is capacity. Capacity isn’t a virtue. So I honor your contribution, I just don’t honor it over that of anyone else.

        R…the “Eye of the Needle” was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem. Jesus wasn’t saying rich people couldn’t get into heaven, he was saying they would be inspected first.

        Report comment

    • Nomad says:

      Using money or financial wealth as a metric is the problem, all by itself.

      Money is infinitely fungible. Person A or Person B gives $10,000, you cannot tell the difference. To brag or want to be recognized for what you gave is a critical flaw.

      You could not spend money to make my little theme camp. Sure, you could pay me and my camp-mates to do what we do, but what we do is what is creative, not the money to buy tickets, bikes. tarps and food. You could buy all the things we buy for us, and I could not tell if it was you or someone else. But if one of my camp-mates is taking the lead one night, or another is, I can tell the difference.

      And perhaps that is where the desire to be a recognized patron comes from. You cannot create the art, so you want to bankroll it – but only with your name on it.

      Tell me, what makes the new Broad wing at LACMA: the person who paid for it, or the art inside? And how much of the art inside did Broad create? Or even cause to be created?

      Will the Man Turned Upside Down allow the patrons to identify themselves off-playa? After all, a burner can’t even publish their own pictures for promotion. Does a patron get a king’s-X exemption from promoting their patronage? Is it “OK” if the artist being bankrolled outs the patron? …As if they would not do that to encourage future gifts.

      Report comment

  • Frank Tyneski says:

    I think this year’s Da Vinci theme will be a great fit for our community. I struggled with The Carnival of Mirrors theme because the concept of reflection took me inward. In contrast, this year’s theme is much more outwardly expansive. And it’s a good conceptual springboard for building tangible things that everyone can enjoy.

    Report comment

  • Galactic butterfly says:

    Thank you sandstorm As an artist and burner for 15 years, i find it more difficult to compete with the darling funded artists and their big money supporters the lies must be uncovered so we can all evolve . Gone are the days of radical self experssion ( a contrivence in the first place) replaced by big money , big celebreties .. The truth is we are providing art-o- tainment for the party. What would burning man be with out the free volunteers , free theme camps and the self funded highly creative offerings made by the little people? Nothing just another festival .which it has devolved into . The fact that there are more and more virgins who come to party ( who do not contribute) makes a burden keep us making the party better and better for the elite . This is a perfect theme as the mediccis were the banking elite as well as the pope of rome … Oh yes we will do what we always do provide art-otainment for the wealthy …. I plan a few projects myself .. We’ll see if i get any funding

    Report comment

    • Andrea says:

      Well I guess I am one of those BM virgins who came here searching for more of the basics of what to expect here. Like is there electricity for each campsite, cooking amenities as well as this being a 26 hour drive. I thought about flying in closer and renting a vehicle and camper. I would dearly love to make it to BM and experience this phenomenal spiritual experience of enlightenment and release.
      If anyone can direct me to where I could find those types of answers then I would greatly appreciate it. Namasté

      Report comment

  • Dr. Bungee says:

    I just got finished with cleaning, sorting, and storing my large pile from the Dust Bowl of 2015, and thought I’d take a break from all things related to BM. Then I checked the web site and found this. The theme for 2016 is so amazing and inspiring! I’m already thinking of things to do, and crazy stuff to make. The last two years, the Souk and Carnival/Maze surrounding the Man, created awesome central gathering places. Indeed, we made almost nightly visits to these spaces. As BM has evolved over the years, and having so many amazing things coming to BRC, the Man area had lost some of it’s allure. I love the fact that the Man is now being refocused as the center of our attention. As for the public plaza with various “guilds” being represented, (I hope the “Death Guild” isn’t there), I envision a Kindergarten art class on steroids. Instead of Popsicle sticks, macaroni and Elmers Glue, we’ll be creating with LED’s, lasers and……BUNGEES!

    Report comment

  • Capn Bunk says:

    I am confused. Is this theme snark? If so, it is spot-on! All hail the billionaire parasite class; our tech-bro overlords. Let us bow down in supplication to their magnanimous trickling of wealth and patronage. Praise be to the noblesse oblige of Camp Zuckerberg and their ilk, as we pray at the shrine of Sarandon. Let us hold humility in our hearts as we create a playground for THEIR amusement.

    If this is not snark, it’s just sad.

    I’ve run a placed camp for five years now, we make art, gift booze, shade, games, and community, and none of it was thanks to the parasite billionaire class. All they do is show up and take what we create.

    I have decided to assume this theme is a joke – that we are not being expected to worship the entitled plug and players as they ride their segways past what we have created. I have mostly stayed out of the increasing discussion about the entitled and the creators, but goddamn Burning Man, you’re asking for it this time.

    Report comment

    • Nomad says:

      Find a wealthy patron, or get the hell out of Florence… er, I mean BRC! Individual creative gifts are SO last decade. Turn The Man upside down: Do it big, with a big budget. Like Marion says, get the cash to bring a cool band to your camp.

      Oh, and while you are at it, Capn, can you scare up an extra $150K so they can do the 2016 Halloween Parade in Vegas? The Borg was not able to make that happen this year. So many patrons, so little time. Please do your part.

      Report comment

  • Swiss Frank says:

    There is a lot of negative banter about rich masters having it over a creative but subservient class of makers in responses to this year’s theme. Does it always have to come to evil rich burners vs. modest folks who must preserve Burning Man? I find it interesting that the people who are hell-bent on kicking the rich out of Burning Man are the same people who want to hoard Burning Man’s Transformative Power for themselves. These people want Burning Man to be their own special thing, something they get to hold over the rich. But honestly, I think they have it all wrong. Perhaps they should interview one of these ‘evil rich bastards’ after their first playa experience. I bet they would discover that rich people are not going to pave the playa or put up a coin laundry. If these haters actually talked to rich burners, they would learn that the rich often go home thinking differently about their purpose in society and also what to do with their discretionary incomes. Thoughts of buying a new imported car may turn to thoughts of building an art car using local talent and community resources. One art car that I’m aware of cost 1.5M to build, and it’s not even a great car. Now you have to ask yourself, do you envision a rich overlord whipping his sweaty, barebacked workers while he sips a lemonade in the shade? Or, do you think he or she may just get involved in the creative process? Do you even think it’s possible that a rich person can develop meaningful friendships with the trades? Is it inconceivable that a rich business person might help his welder with his business plan while that welder teaches that rich guy how to stick two pieces of metal together? Imagine that exchange of value, friendship, mutual joy and understanding. Folks, this is the currency of Burning Man. Well, at least as I know it. But I guess we all have to decide what reality we wish to perpetuate.

    Report comment

    • Nomad says:

      I hope you pay your writers well. They have quite a job.

      Report comment

    • Peace says:

      Swiss…do you want to be specifically thanked for your contributions to Burning Man over anyone else? Over the guy who makes $25,000 a year and contributes $500 and hours of time? I doubt it. That’s all I’m concerned about. Those who think wealth is a great accomplishment. It’s just a thing some people do. Some people devote the effort to other things. Like making beautiful art.

      Report comment

    • Andrea says:

      I think what is being said by most is that everyone at BM should be treated equally.
      No special treatment or recognition for those that can afford to donate $50,000 vs someone who donates $500. There will always be haters. I am glad you have been successful in your endeavors. These that want to hate need to learn that thoughts become action. I prefer the power of manifestation and meditations to keep me in the right mindset to become successful. I have become enlightened and truly hope I can figure out a way to experience BM in 2016. I live in Dallas so BRC is 26 hrs from me. I am glad the experience transformed you. We are all a work in progress, aren’t we? :D Namasté

      Report comment

  • The above conversation about the rich and the not-so-rich has been enlightening. I think we should view the personal monetary values of participants in relative terms and acknowledge, for the vast majority, Burners are well off and we should all just try to get along and participate and make it as special as we can. I mean, have any of you met anyone from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Burundi, or Somalia, or Zimbabwe out there (the world’s four poorest countries in terms of monetary value)?

    Anyone know how big Turning Man will be? Forty feet? One hundred feet? Pretty cool!!!

    Report comment

  • Ranger says:

    I think it may be time to re-look at the policy of allowing people to comment under any name. The first comment claims it was written by, “Sandstorm”— but was not actually written by the person who written by Sandstorm in the past in this blog. To me, it makes that first comment very suspicious.

    Report comment

    • David Kalinowski says:

      Ranger: My sincere thanks to you for you making your post. Being that I’m the “real” Sandstorm I’m sickened that someone INTENTIONALLY made the above referenced comment under my playa/eplaya name. While I’m a 7 time Burner I’m also a nobody in the Burner community except for a small corner of the online community where my FB, BM, Burners.me and Burning Blog posts or comments about the SHERPAGATE fiasco are well known. Before I was alerted to this situation several Burner friends of mine made quizzical note of the above referenced comment in question. No matter the issues I’ve had in the past with Larry & Co. I 100% adore and honor the official announcement of the next Big Burn’s theme. I’m not happy about the fact that someone intentionally chose to falsely use my playa/eplaya name to make the first Burning Blog user comment to the the 2016 BM theme announcement. I wish that Will Chase or some other BM employee would step up to the plate and address this situation.

      Anyway, I send you dusty hugs. :)

      Report comment

      • burnersxxx says:

        “oh that comment can’t be true, it’s from Sandstorm, and another guy who once went by the moniker denies making it”

        This is a non sequitur. What about focusing on the substance of OP Sandstorm’s message, rather than attacking their credibility with logical fallacies?

        There are a few commenters here who agreed with OP Sandstorm. I notice their comments get ignored.

        Report comment

  • September says:

    1. I see no point in wealth shaming…especially if the wealth being shamed is actually spending their money on creating something artistic…

    People that wealth shame are no better than the wealthy that engage in poverty shaming

    2. I have only attended two burns because I’m theme inspired… Since Da Vinci is one of my absolute favorite peeps that’s done time on earth I will be so attending 2016 and I’m looking forward to each and every person’s offering to the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci.

    Report comment

    • burnersxxx says:

      I’m not sure how you get “wealth shaming” from “follow in the footsteps of the Medicis”

      Report comment

      • September says:

        I was
        Referring to the people that were posting their feelings about how they negatively view the trend of rich people going to the burn…..

        As for the theme I think it’s awesome and the Medici’s deserve consideration in an art project or two….

        After all it is all about the love and nothing else matters

        Report comment

  • shashik says:

    perpetuum mobile almost finished in Czech Republic https://vimeo.com/66016476

    Report comment

  • BoasterComplainerInnovator says:

    keep in mind that as you ‘turn’, view or be )'( – you get space from not being focused on what your against…what is experiences’, experience of experience?

    Report comment

  • epiphanystarlight says:

    With all the controversy my initial enthusiasm was so tainted, I had to reread the post.
    “In the name of art, class barriers were cast aside” Apparently this quote was ignored for the sake of dissent. It seems fitting that the parallel is drawn, after all, isn’t that radical inclusion? I relish the idea of being part of a new renaissance.

    This is an exciting theme and so early! Thank you so much BMORG for facilitating a most amazing movement toward conscious evolution, not to mention a phenomenal party.

    Report comment

    • Peace says:

      Yes, class distinctions were set aside (not really true, but a nice thought) means everyone is equal and no person or class of people is honored above anyone else.

      Report comment

  • Nomad says:

    So the idea is to have the burners themselves turn The Man upside down. It was inevitable if too obvious.

    Report comment

  • MonaLisaJones says:

    So Leo DiCaprio will be at the trash fence reciting Dante?

    Will The Man be turnin’ while he’s burnin’?

    The theme is awesome! I’ve already got so many ideas sprouting. So many possibilities for creativity. 307 days till ()'() burns!

    Report comment

  • Lena says:

    I am uncomfortable with the last paragraph of the text above. Will we name te patrons? If yes, in which way? How do we define patrons: if an artwork is sponsored by a certain company, will we have it named, signs put up? Well, I definitely would have a problem with that….. Can somebody answer those questions? Thank you!

    Report comment

    • Larry Harvey says:

      Companies and corporations will not sponsor art; it is real people who will sponsor art. As to putting signs up that give credit, we will regard this as inappropriate advertising; this follows long-time custom. With but one exception, no artist has ever signed their art at Burning Man, nor has any patron taken public credit for their contribution. We are not offering anyone special status. We think it is enough that people simply know that these two groups have collaborated In providing a civic space that is available to everyone.

      This program is an extension of reforms we enacted earlier this year. In order to receive placement and other services, Plug and Play camps were required to operate as Theme Camps. This meant that they must interact with Black Rock City’s citizens. Likewise, this Plaza Project is aimed at breaking down barriers that prevent interaction. This pseudo war between the haves and the have nots will only end when people begin to recognize their common humanity.

      A story from our early years will illustrate this point. When Burning Man first arrived in the desert, local citizens living in and around Gerlach were suspicious of us. We were outsiders from California, and many people branded us as ‘other’. I recall one town meeting in which a rancher claimed that one of his steers had died in some far-flung pasture as result or our mere occupancy of the Back Rock Desert. I remember wondering what would come next — charges that a burner witch had poisoned the wells?

      Then one day, at our nearby work ranch in Hualapai Valley, a neighbors cow stumbled into a pool and sank up to its knees in the mud. Members of the DPW were present, and with much heaving and hauling, they managed to rescue the beast. Afterwards, the animal’s owner was heard to say, “I don’t hold with these Burning Man people, but the DPW folks…well, they’re all right”.

      In the case of our proposed plaza, I imagine that sponsors and artists alike will naturally take an interest in the result of their joint effort; they will mix with people who populate the space they have created. Everyone, in other words, will meet on common ground. I will not be surprised if someone says, “I don’t trust rich people — they keep to themselves. But this couple I just met, who helped to make this happen…well, they’re okay”.

      Report comment

  • Zaotron says:

    Does this mean that all obsolete Burner costumes/mutant vehicles/camps will be automatically replaced with equivalent modern units?

    Report comment

  • Fez says:

    MONEY IS SPEECH
    ART IS MONEY
    WAR IS PEACE

    Report comment

  • Anya says:

    :)

    A great video on the subject that came across my youtube feed!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fI1OeMmwYjU

    Report comment

  • Antiks says:

    OK… To all the old burners who thought it was something and now its not. I was a virgin 2015 and my burn cannot be summed up in less than a half hour conversation. I was torn to the core. I can’t even say I had fun… In general… But guess what? I’m going back! I have a donated car that I’m trying to figure out what to create with, and get back to playa. While a patron would be great… I am willing to make whatever I can make happen alone. Believe me people… The burn is alive, the metaphors in tact, the beauty overwhelming… Brings tears to my eyes… I love you fuckers…

    Report comment

  • Mama Lupin says:

    Hmmmmm tapestries and dust, velvet gowns and dust, woolen britches and dust, I see a theme in the theme.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.