Be An Artist
There are many ways to contribute and participate in Burning Man. Creating art is arguably one of the most rewarding. And does not require you to be "an artist." Keep reading if you are curious about art at Burning Man, if you want to help with someone else’s idea, if you have an art project in mind, or if you want to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!
Go for it!
Seriously - leave all the intimidating stuff you have learned about what art is supposed to be or who can make art or what counts as art behind! If you have an idea - dive in! If you don’t - ask someone if you can help make their idea happen!
Talk to people who have built art! Go to Burner meetups! Walk up to folks building at events and ask if they need a hand! Get involved with someone else’s project! Ask lots of questions!
There are lots of ways to bring art to Black Rock City:
Bring art to your camp
Bring art to the playa proper
Create mobile art
Build a mutant vehicle
Make yourself a work of art! Costuming is an excellent form of expression!
The Burning Man organization provides some additional tips for bringing art to Burning Man.
If you do want to create a larger art installation on the playa and be placed by the ARTery, you will have to apply online or at Burning Man.
If you want to build an mutant vehicle, make sure to read up on that here.
Dream big (or small)!
And be prepared to be thrilled when a percentage of that dream becomes a reality! :)
Sometimes it’s hard to predict what’s going to work out and what isn’t. Be prepared for success! This is as important as considering what will happen if things don’t work out.
Here are a few tips that might help with larger projects:
Are their multiple components to this project? Are there parts that can be broken out to completed by other people fairly independently (maybe even in different cities or added in later years?)
Try prioritizing the parts by identifying the core skeleton that MUST be completed to make the project go - is this doable? Then, think about what can be added to make it more awesome…
Make a schedule
Make a schedule EARLY!
Account for Hofstadter's law
Update your schedule often.
Consider the skills, interests, and abilities of the various people you know!
Often a project's form is heavily influenced by who happens to be involved. Consider not only who IS involved, but who MIGHT be. What can they do? What might they want to learn? Are there ways your project could incorporate their skills?
Consider the resources you have
This includes materials you might happen to have easier access to, as well as materials that you might consider avoiding because they are expensive, MOOPy, or hard to transport or store. You may also want to consider things like environmental impact!
Also consider less concrete resources like work space, tools, storage and transport! These things are CRUCIAL and make or break many projects!
Art doesn’t always have to be HUGE
A few years ago, someone got a kiddie pool, filled it with books and made a sign that said ‘Jump into the book pond!’ People loved it! It was interactive and simple to set up and take down.
If you’ve never built any large scale projects, it might make sense to start with a smaller project to get an understanding of how the elements of Burning Man (wind, lots of wind, dust, people touching your art, darkness, etc.) will impact your project. Nothing is too small or too big at Burning Man.
Strap it down!
While traveling and when setting up!
You don’t want your project to create MOOP before you set it up or while you are setting it up! You have to pick up everything as small as wood shavings, you really don’t want to be cutting wood or doing any additional adjustments when you get to the playa.
You also don’t want your art to blow away in the wind. How will you secure it to the playa and make sure it doesn’t tip over?
Also, if it looks at all like it might be possible to climb on your art, people will almost certainly climb on it! It is awesome to bring art to Burning Man because the audience is so up for interacting with just about everything! But this also means that if you are not prepared for people to climb on your art (if it would not be safe for them to do so), then you should make that VERY clear!
Light it up!
Keep in mind the environment you are building in. It gets very dark at night and you might need to add lights so people don’t run into or trip (or worse - see below) on your project.
People might pee on it!
I mean this literally.
But there is probably an abstract lesson here too. You can’t control how people will respond to your art. One of the cool things about Burning Man is how much people interact with art. Are there other ways you can encourage participants to interact with your art?
Be prepared for trash!
If you build something at Burning Man, people will leave trash at it. The more your art is in a place for others to relax and hang out, the more trash will accumulate. Create a plan for collecting and packing this trash out.
You are responsible for picking up the MOOP surrounding your art on the playa
Here's some previous art from the melon camp:
MOOT, Matter Out Of Time (BM 2015) - a working time machine!
A cheap beer tasting, event (BM 2015) A sun dial (BM 2015)
A melon-themed tricycle to deliver watermelons on deep playa (BM 2014, 2015)
A working MOOT (Matter Out Of Time) machine (also from L Melon O P in 2015).