MOOP MAP LIVE: The Art and Science of Leaving No Trace

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where, with just a few days left in the game, the DPW Playa Restoration team seems headed for a clear win. Tomorrow I’ll have new reports on the 2011 MOOP Map scores, but today we’re talking about art installations and how we clean ’em up.

Charon by Peter Hudson. Photo by Arin Fishkin.

Almost all of the art you see in the open playa is placed precisely according to GPS coordinates. When the artist gets their placement, they agree to make sure their spot is MOOP-free when they leave. According to Playa Restoration’s ARTery representative Awesomesauce, the ARTery inspects each site before the artist leaves.

During Playa Restoration, special agent Bustin Dustin has the unique job of finding each art site and trying to figure out what happened there. Each site is different: The art may have burned, or used fuel or fireworks. It may have been made of metal, or plastic, or wood. It may have had a huge number of visitors throughout the week, and they can have interacted with the art in countless ways.

The Temple of Transition. Photo by Jim Hammer.

Ouroboros by the Flipside project. Photo by Michael Holden.
Tympani Lambada by the Flaming Lotus Girls. Photo by Neil Girling.

When the art is gone, the sites can only be found by GPS. So Bustin cruises the desert in the only art car we have left out here, locating each one and making sure it’s pristine.

Bustin Dustin and the remains of the Man

Once Bustin reaches each site, he becomes a desert detective. To the untrained eye, it may look like featureless desert — but Bustin sees evidence of trenched lines, of filled-in holes, of dunes that might be covering MOOP. He stays at each site until he’s sure it’s completely clean. Some of them truly are clean as soon as he rolls up, but some have buried treasure: wood chips, bits of wire, random trash left by visitors. Bustin gives each site a score, which can affect the artist’s placement in future years. The list of art sites and their scores will be published soon!

Bubblegique, looking stoic

Behind this precise maneuvering, there’s a tech wizard who makes it all possible. Bubblegique, Tech Manager for Restoration, actually begins his work in July when the Black Rock City site is selected. He works with the Burning Man Organization to pick a site for the Man, and sinks a nail there. Then he begins dialing in the GPS units’ accuracy, a long process that takes many nights of calculation. When this year began, the GPS coordinates had a margin of error of up to a few meters. Bubblegique now has them accurate to within a few feet.

Bubblegique is one of the most interesting characters out here. Quiet and inobtrusive, he’s like a secret ninja or Jedi master. You may not always see him, but when you do, you find out he’s been doing something awesome.

When he’s not busy setting up the city site or creating a system for the Line Sweep Scribes to document hot spots with photos and coordinates, Bubblegique drives around looking for disturbances in the Force. His customized work vehicle has a six-foot magnet mounted on the back, picking up screws and nails as he drives. And, along with Bustin Dustin, his job is to find MOOP wherever it exists.

Speaking of MOOP, where’s Day 6 of the 2011 MOOP Map? It’s still being finalized — you wouldn’t want us to make a mistake — and it’ll be here as soon as humanly possible. I’m excited and anxious about the results too. ‘Til tomorrow, this is The Hun signing off.

About the author: The Hun

The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

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