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Burning Man Journal
All the news thats fit to burn.
The Official Journal of the Burning Man Project - Summer 2000 Newsletter

The Year of the Embodied Being
A Guide to Theme Art in 2000

The Body
Nothing is so immediate as your experience of your body. Indeed, to even claim your body as your own is a kind of misrepresentation, for you are possessed by your body as surely as you possess it. Closer than close, is this mysterious relationship. Being and belonging to a body, feeling we are members of some greater body - this is primal to our sense of who and what we are.

Our art theme in 2000 will explore this mystery of embodied being. This year we'll create a giant pictogram that copies Burning Man's familiar logo. Straddling the inverted arc of our city, this colossal figure will extend three-quarters of a mile outward from our civic center. We will draw its outspread limbs and great diamond-shaped head upon the surface of the playa. At night, it will be etched by elevated laser beams that hover 30 feet above the desert floor.

This huge and ephemeral figure will be projected from towers located at the hands, feet, midriff and angled intersections of the head. The creators of this art work call it "Beaming Man." Within its sprawling outline, we will feature art by our participants that evokes some aspect of corporeal being. What does it mean to you to be a mortal creature: to inhabit, possess, and be possessed by, biological processes and living form?

We will site art installations near parts of the body they specifically reference, and particular attention will be focused on the spine. It will become a half-mile-long gallery of art extending along a straight line from the figure's groin to the crown of its brow. Featured art will be aligned along this central axis, and performances will take place here on Thursday and Friday evenings.

A Tour of The Spine
The Friday Evening Pageant

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Following the pattern of last year's art theme, The Wheel of Time, our art pageant in 2000 will feature four principal installation areas. These will center at the groin, solar plexus, heart and head, and become the focus of performances on Friday night. Participants will enter the groin area through a 18-foot-tall gothic arch. This gateway, created by Pepe Ozan, will be modeled as a yoni, a stylized representation of the female genitalia, drawn from sacred Hindu art. Two hundred feet further along, perfectly aligned with Burning Man, will stand a lingam or phallic tower. Near sundown on Friday evening, participants will be invited to drag this massive phallus across the playa to a position immediately opposite the yoni, and here it will be ignited and burned.

The second station of this tour is the Solar Plexus. Here we will again install the L2K array, a 300-foot-diameter circle of sequenced lights that this year are designed to immediately respond to the movements of participants. At the middle of this circle will stand Burning Man, representing the radiant center of this giant human being. On Friday evening, this arena will become a venue for Tesla-coil-generated lightning and fiery performance art. Fire artists wishing to participate in this performance, or perform at our Burn on Saturday night, should contact: fireconclave(at)burningman(dot)com.

Moving further along this grand promenade of the spine, directly behind the Man, participants will encounter a third major installation area: the Heart. Considered in the scale of our prodigious figure, participants will be as blood cells as they circulate within our giant body. Accordingly, we hope to make the Heart a highly interactive destination that brings hundreds of people together. Artists wishing to make the Heart their home should conceive it as the source of our emotional and moral life. It harbors sympathies and hopes, enmities and secret desolations. The Heart is where we find, or fail to find, our courage, the place from which we bind our life to things beyond ourselves. It is a seat of boundless love and joy, a conductor of passions, and, like a lighted filament, it is especially fragile.

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Finally, at the terminus of this journey, participants will arrive in the Head. This vast tract will measure approximately 34,000 square feet. It will represent, in the phrase of Robert Louis Stevenson, "the strange phantasmagoric chamber of the brain, with its painted windows and its storied walls." The Head is the theater of our thoughts, our dreams and memories, and all other conscious experience.

It is the hall of our ideals, the seat of transcendence, and the home of our senses. In particular, we are encouraging a variety of technological art to locate in the Head as tribute to what human intellect can devise.

The Greater Spine
Thursday Night Performances and Other Installations The entire spine of this body can be regarded as a grand harmonic scale. The vertebrae on which the centers of our nervous consciousness are strung, are like the keys of a piano. Ranging from the darkest roots of our awareness to the sublime projections of the mind, each key in its succession strikes a different tone. We will arrange art installations of all kinds along this scale. Many smaller performances, not included at our major centers, will be featured here on Thursday evening. Artists wishing to participate in the Greater Spine should consider a simple exercise. Touch that place along the axis of your body which you wish to occupy, as if sounding a single note, and see what feelings and ideas arise. Keep in mind that the connection of your art to the body must be intuitively available to participants. Whatever metaphor you employ must be rendered apparent.

We plan to deploy this art in two principal ways. Some works may be sited directly upon the axial line of our spinal pathway. Think of obelisks or other vertical and circumscribed forms that will allow the public to circulate around and past whatever structure you create. These objects must not impede traffic or block the view. Other installations of larger or broader extent will flank this pathway, clustering like knots of nerve fiber at its sides. Finally, other works of art not featured on the spine are also welcome. Would you like to be a virus or an antibody plying the great oceanic space of this corpus of work? Have you an affinity for the breasts or the hands or the feet? Do you wish to create a work not literally related to a position, function or part of the body, one that exemplifies some other aspect of corporeal being? Many ideas have been proposed already, including the Boom Boom Womb, a fallopian tube slide, a huge "body" of knowledge sculpted entirely from books, a set of glowing lungs, a heart of molten metal, a monumental anal entryway, parabolic sound mirrors for the ears, and a hyperstereoscopic viewer that will allow participants to experience the world as if their eyes were located several feet apart.

Plans for any work proposed for inclusion in the body must be submitted to us well ahead of time and not all work can be accepted. Fixed sculptures and non-performance work must be installed and made available to participants early in the week. We plan to maintain the spine as an interactive entity throughout the entire span of our eight-day event.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please email: body(at)burningman(dot)com
Fire performers should contact: fireconclave(at)burningman(dot)com

You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, prior to submitting plans. Contact us now and become a member of the body.

[NOTE: The greatest portion of the playa remains available for art that's unrelated to our theme. If you wish to install a work here, please contact installations(at)burningman(dot)com for safety guidelines and placement.]