The art and artists

Bliss Dance in the daytime (photo by Tod Seelie)

We got out and about a little bit before the official start of Burning Man, and we got to talk to some of the artists and see some of the big pieces that are gracing the playa this year. We also were lucky enough to collaborate with Tod Seelie, the amazing Brooklyn photographer who’s been documenting underground culture for the past decade. Welcome aboard, Tod, and we thank you!

Bliss Dance at dawn (photo by John Curley)

Working on "Bliss Dance." From the artist, Marko Cochrane: I've worked on “Bliss Dance” every day since last year's Burning Man. It's composed of 55,000 welds, mostly done by hand. It's 40 feet tall, weighs 7,000 pounds and is 97% air. The design is based around the structures of geodesic domes, and 4,500 of the ball joints are threaded to attach the steel mesh “skin” with screws. I used to do a lot of scale enlarging professionally, the original sculpture this was based on was 13 inches. I then made a 4 foot version and then this final 40 foot sculpture. It is supported by six I-beams buried 2 feet under the surface in a radial pattern." (TS)

It wasn't the worst thing in the world to take a rest in a hammock in the far reaches of the playa. (JC)
Four steel obelisks stand sentry in the outer reaches of the city (JC)
"Future's Past" by Kate Raudenbush. From the artist: “I conceived of it in October of last year, and thought I was going to do different things, and then I finally decided on this idea in January. It was a response to the Metropolis theme, a fallen civilization being reclaimed by nature. That was my jumping off point, so what I decided to do was create a structure that was reminiscent of the pyramids of the Mayans or of ancient Egypt or of Angor. I've been to both Mexico and Cambodia and have seen both those types, and am trying to have both that familiar architectural shape and yet using modern circuitry designs and building that into a twelve-foot black pyramid to make it look like a circuit board with circuitry. But the circuitry would have symbolism built into it from different cultures, different textiles, different countries and then very free-form petroglyphic references."(TS)
Kate doing final preparations on "Future's Past." There's a 12-foot pyramid base, "a nod to the past great civilizations and echoes the architectural form of a renowned collapsed culture: the Maya. Above, a 10-foot symbol of enlightenment - a Bodhi tree - grows out of this modern ruin, like the roots around the Temple Ta Prohm in Cambodia, signaling an archaic revival of the natural world over the man-made." (JC)
"Future's Past" aglo (TS)
Setting up inside the base of the "Future's Past" pyramid (JC)
"Minaret" by Bryan Tedrick is a 50-foot tower that can climb on the outside to the midpoint, then get inside and ascend to the stainless steel dome on top. "The tower is in six sections: The three at the bottom are based on the vertebra of a lion ... the upper three sections are painted to resemble snake skin and are smooth on the exterior." (JC)
"Home," by Michael Christian. From the artist statement: "The pieces are spheroidal shapes created with designs based on maps of cities from around the world, line drawings of streets, rivers, lakes, buildings, etc. A brilliant light at its center will shine through the cracks and spaces similar to the light and energy that every city has." (JC)

Visitors will be able to spin the sphere in the center. (JC)
Michael Christian, at "Home" in the desert. (JC)

About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

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