Moze’s Top Ten ART PROJECTS And Then Some

It has been said that the culmination of evolution is procreation.

I say it is the process of working your ass off for months in your grimy, stinking sweltering warehouse, breathing the pulverized metal of so many grinders or the pine diaper stink of wet sawdust and every day burning, bashing, smashing, or otherwise breaking your body upon the wheel with a precarious group of batshit crazy artist friends to build something you know will be the GREATEST ART PROJECT EVER to hit the playa.

I say it is spending the last of your paltry paychecks or foraging dumpsters or crawling all over junk yards for supplies and that MISSING LINK to bring your ART TO LIFE and it is the toil and exhaustion of back breaking work, as you are covered with grime, stressed out and sweaty, wondering if you’re going to finish the thing in time, then, when it looks like you won’t pull it off, actually “finishing” and then loading up and driving out to the godforsaken desert to work another week in the dust and the heat that would kill any sane HOMINID.

It really is about SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST and the playa will devour you alive if you lose your focus, but if you’re lucky to finish building your masterpiece sometime around when the floodgates open and Black Rock City fills up with the ART CURIOUS who are searching for YOUR ART TO BLOW THEIR MINDS, you will be able to sit back and watch with wonder what you have wrought and realize…

IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.. . and what’ll we do next year…

Those of you who DARE to IGNORE THE OBVIOUS RIDICULOUSNESS of even trying to make ART in BLACK ROCK CITY are truly EVOLVED.

This year we jump aboard the merry ship HMS LARRY HARVEY to sail to Lake Lahontan where OUR FEARLESS LEADER has decreed that in 2009 our dry lake bed will become the GALAPAGOS of ART, and this year’s EVOLUTION THEME just tickles my PHENOTYPE so much I’m hoping to catch some HOT ALLELE on ALLELE action as we all swim to the bone dry end of the GENE POOL.

Now, I am just a lowly blogger, and not a member of the mighty ORG, so getting your LINKAGE all DISEQUILLIBRIUMED over perceived COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION is futile. I don’t know much about ART, but I know what catches my eye, and let me tell you, we have 160+ projects this year, many of them DANGEROUS, but if CONTROL OF FIRE is a turning point in HUMAN EVOLUTION, I’d say we’re pretty evolved in Black Rock City, if you catch my GENETIC DRIFT.

So, if you can put down your faux fur leg warmers, fairy wings, EL wire, body glitter and ThemeCamp planning maps for a few minutes, I give to you …


1. Raygun Gothic Rocketship by Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor, David Shulman and John Manyjohns. They’ve been flying around outer space since 1944 and just returned to earth to make repairs and they’re planning on departing again September 4th from Black Rock City where a 500 foot perimeter will be set up to ensure the safety of Black Rock City citizens. Their plasma drive engine, high tensile titanium alloys and lighter weight and gadgetry will be on display all week, “But be careful … it’s all fun and games until someone stumbles into the electric fence surrounding the gantry…”

Seriously, this group of mad scientists don’t just make ART, they live it. They were behind the Steampunk Treehouse from 07 and Goes Around Comes Around, the steam power carousel from 2006 and they’re not only artists and geniuses, but they’re really nice people. If Gee-Gnome is whimsical, this installation is downright in your face retro insanity and well worth the tour.

I highly recommend listening to their Audio Art tour in the Installations section of the Burning Man site.

2. Gee-Gnome by Rosa Anna DeFilippis, Peter Youngmeister, Caroline Miller and John DeVenezia. If you like Gnomes and if you like Fire, this is your piece. It is whimsical, a 5’ tall “realistic depiction of General Gnomius the Great” that will shoot a 70’ multicolored Methanol flame into the sky at night. Sometimes from little Gnomes come Great Flames.

3. Soma by the Flaming Lotus Girls is a stainless steel, million times larger than life neuron sculpture driven by the big brains who like to create participatory fire sculptures to blow your mind. Here are dendrites, neurons, spinning fiery nuclei and an axon with flames and electricity that end in a sparkle poof that represents the passage of electricity form cell to cell.

The sheer endurance and ability to remain original and to, dare I say, evolve, makes the Flaming Lotus Girls one of our greatest treasures on the playa.

4. The KeyHole – The Heron Project by Christina Sporrong and Christian Ristow and Luminous Passage by Gary Long and LA Art Group. Last year when the Fleeble wasn’t Flobbering it could get as cold and desolate as a freeway underpass near the Crucible at 3 am (no offense, Charlie). This year we will be treated to a kind of Center Camp Keyhole Champs-Élysées with the Heron Project, “part prehistoric bird, part oil derrick” flapping wings of fire and surrounded by the 20 ethereal trees of Luminous Passage casting glowing shadows to warm your way.

5. This year offers us a tangled bank of possibilities, and THE MAN himself promises to be an interesting departure from years past. THE MAN base is not an art gallery this year, but instead consists “of irregular wooden triangles” creating “a chaotic truss. At night the tangled bank will come alive with luminous life forms scratching, crawling and slithering their way through it.”

There will be a Gene Pool, Strange Ur-creatures peeping and THE MAN will sit atop a central tree that is “beribboned with a double helix.. that .. will exist in flux: switching on and switching off, changing colors unexpectedly.”

6. Fire of Fires by David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe and Community Art Makers. The New Temple Crew brings us a 3-tiered Temple, the product of 20 designers. The bottom floor is adorned with human iconography and that symbology evolves from floor one to the top floor where it culminates in fundamental molecular designs. With a 35’ high Fire Tornado at its core, it doesn’t sound like the Temple will have any problem catching fire this year. This could be another very interesting evolution from the past for one of our dear yearly Art Installations.

7. Braindrop by Kate Raudenbush whose past projects include Altered State from 08, Guardian of Eden in 07, Duel Nature from 06 and 2005’s Stadium of the Self, brings Black Rock City a 17’ tall “meditation space created to bring awareness to the element of water on our planet and its importance to our evolutionary balance.” Her intricate laser-cut steel lattice works imprint themselves on my occipital lobe and the sublime beauty of her work is really moving.

8. Vishnu’s Dream by Joe Arnold and Deedee Hampton is a “a twenty seven foot high kinetic, participatory sculpture”. It will be a big “lotus flower blossoming” with lage cobras whose “eyes will glow red and the framework of the lotus will be illuminated by chasing lights that lead the eye upward to a whirling windmill of petals and a glowing orb at the top.”

This sounds pretty cool, but add to that the fact that the installation is a Camera Obscura that rather than just allowing participants inside to see a static image, “will allow viewing dynamic images from inside the camera obscura itself” by a lens apparatus spun by windmills inside the Lotus Flower.

9. Holding Flame by Patrick Shearn and Cynthia Washburn. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire… this is the group that brought you the Hope Flower and Fear Trap, that really cool and unexpected flower that traveled the playa. The “ceiling is plumbed with propane which, when burning, creates a roiling ceiling of fire. Contours created on the surface of the ceiling control the pattern and flow of the fire as it moves outward, trying to rise and searching for oxygen. The result, when seen from below, is mesmerizing and engaging.” Nuff said.

10. Carbon Garden by False Profit Labs. This collective has been bringing out more and more interesting installations each year, Hydrogen Economy, PyroCardium, Toxic Bloom. This year they are building “A garden of 30 flowers ranging from 5′ to 10′ tall” each of which shoot flames that “react to sensors and generate music for a serene zen experience.” There is a tradition of these gardens that I’ve always enjoyed, including 06’s A Field of Sunflower Robots by Stefano Corazza, 02’s Lily Pond by Jeremy Lutes, the Flaming Lotus Girls Flower Garden also in 02 and Mr. $teven Ra$pa’$ Sacred Grove and Wheel of Faith from 1998, so I’m looking forward to this one.

AND HERE ARE some Installations that are going to also be no doubt exciting so here they are, categorized for your safety:

The FlameThrower Shooting Gallery by Matisse Enzer returns this year and is “Modeled after “County Fair” style shooting galleries”, but with FlameThrowers. The Burninator Grid by Bill Codding says it all in their descripton of the new layout of the Grid that Burners walk into as “Taking the same large number of towers … and collapsing them into a small field of fire .. that… will allow it to become truly overwhelming.” And I also like the sound of 2Πr by Interpretive Arson which is “two concentric rings” with the inner ring detecting movement and translating it into fire on the second ring.

BIG PENIS ART: There are many large sculptures on the playa, but the Tower of Emergence by Jordan Tenney is a “wood architectural sculpture that reaches nearly 60′ into the sky and is much like a stylized flower which has broken through a huge crack in the barren desert floor.”

OOH THE COLORS AT NIGHT: Two pieces: The Pool by Jen Lewin which will be a place “where play and collaborative movement can create a cascading effect of swirling light and color” and Cubatron L5 by Mark Lotter made up of “made up of 1000 lights.”

MOST LIKELY DISTURBING ART: Chimera Sententia (aka Fishbug) by Rebecca Anders & Jessica Hobbs is an offshoot of the Flaming Lotus Girls and promises to freak you out with a length of 30 feet of straining, laboring BREATHING undefined evolving creature.

HARD TO TOP DICKY IN THE BOX: This year’s large scale art project by a newcomer is something called Evo-Wall by Carl Sanden. It looks big, there are doors, there is a wall, he’s going to ignite it all and he seems crazy enough to pull it off. This could be a real Sleeper, or not.

Most Likely to GET you HEART PUMPING: Heartbeat Amplifier by Hitch McDermid is armchairs with Electrocardiography (EKG) plates in them that allow participants to chill and fear their heartbeats throbbing out of massive bass heavy speakers, echoing into the sky. Sounds delightful!

So there you have it. If I’ve missed something mind blowing it won’t be the first time. I wrote an art review that missed the 2006 Waffle, aka Message Out of the Future by the Uchronians. You can read all about it in Burning Man Live, 13 Years of Piss Clear if you are so inclined. But we ADAPT.

There are a TON of other projects and like I said, these just caught my eye. I don’t really know anything about ART, but I can’t wait to see what these folks make happen out there because ART really gets my motor running and I appreciate every artist who works their ass off to get their project out there to GIFT to all of us.

And HONESTLY, SO SHOULD YOU. Have a great Burn this year.

About the author: Moze


John Mosbaugh aka Moze is a SF Bay Area heretic and writer who's been hauling himself out to Black Rock City since the Nebulous Entity first beckoned him to check out this phenomenon known as Burning Man. Moze is a "Life Collector" who scribbles down encounters with you to share on the blog. He enjoys the hyper reality of that week in the desert enough to keep coming back. He's been on the Burning Man web team since aught two and has written for Piss Clear and the YEP (Yahoo Education Project). He doesn't speak for the org and he finds you fascinating. He celebrates you and loves it when you take away ideas from Burning Man and share them with the rest of the world. He likes to make grilled cheese on Burn Night afternoon and gift it to you because you're probably hungry. Moze is a big fan of fire, art, freedom and community.

19 Comments on “Moze’s Top Ten ART PROJECTS And Then Some

  • Nancy Willey says:

    I’m speechless!! This all is AWESOME!!!!

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  • BrotherMichael says:

    There are a lot of reasons to go to Burning Man.
    The experience is different for every indivudual that attends.
    This will be my tenth consecutive burn.
    The reason I go is for the ART.
    The creativity and expression I see there nurtures,inspires and fuels me all year long.
    Thank you for this art preview.
    I can’t WAIT to get there!

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  • Awww…thanks so much for including the FishBug (Chimera Sententia) on your interesting list. To be voted Most Likely Disturbing is a deep honor, and we sure hope to fulfill that! Thanks Moze!

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  • Nate biklen says:

    I have a question I’ve heard a roomer for years that you can get in to burning man with no money or ticket if you walk in completly naked is this true and if so can you were a bag with one strapped containing one flute a set of poy and my magic show all inside so I can share and partisapate. please exuse my spelling there is no spell check on this computer.
    I’ve been wanting to go to burning man for 9 years

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  • bozofish says:

    YEA!!!! Fire returns to the Playa….

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  • Jeautoux says:

    Moze totally nails the art process in the intro above. I love the smell of smell of burnt steel in the morning.

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  • Laigniappe says:

    I am so damn excited!!!!!

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  • SkeletonMan says:

    This has me mouthdripping in suspense …

    Thanks for the heads-up!

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  • LaCyclone of G-ville says:

    YOU Moze make me salivate and take my wind away. You sound very OFFICIAL to me. Thank you for the mental preview.
    I am spiritually already there.

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  • Barb Coffy says:

    I am just a old woman from florida. I am not an artist but because of people like all of you I can not wait to get to Burningman this year and see all of your great work and meet and party with all of you. This will be my 1st year and I am so excited!!!! You guys ROCK and so will I. I just got done packing!! I am ready!

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  • jared says:

    no mention of the walk-in kaleidoscope? ;)

    i suppose the less traffic it gets, the better (so the mobs don’t kill the shinies too quickly)

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  • Fresh says:

    Wow!! So many wonderful ideas! Can’t wait!

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  • Dirt Wheel says:

    I have just one one thing to say: 96:56:42 – Steady!

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  • J Beta says:

    yum. printed!

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  • Ocotpus says:

    Aw, I love this! I listened to my dear friends Jim and Evonne narrate the art tour and got to experience just a fraction of the amazing full experience of actually being with you all on the playa. I am now a BM blog and webcast junkie! Ack! Good thing I made alternate plans, this 2 dimensional space would get really frustrating after awhile. The art is what kept me coming back for 10 consec years and I joined the ARTery in 04 and completed my 5th year last year. Some of the best times in my life! I am forever grateful to all the artists who have profoundly contributed to my life at Burning Man. With you all there in spirit! Happy Burn!


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  • i always use leg warmers during the winter months to feel comfy.:.~

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  • Madelyn Cox says:

    we often need leg warmers during the cold winter months in our place. we prefer cotton or wool’,”

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  • Anthony says:

    Nate – yes I did this last year. I walked in to burning man naked and they let me in for freee. some one even gave me clothes to wear after i got in. i did bring my poi set though. have fun!

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