September 15th, 2012

An artwork

A later picture will show what the center piece of this sculpture looked like at night.

In general, there is too much art at Burning Man for it to be even remotely possible to see it all. The pictures I'll be posting here are only a small selection.

Interior of The Temple (ground level)

During the course of the Burning Man event, essentially every reachable surface of the temple is covered with written memorials to recently lost loved ones, or statements of things people wish to move past in their personal lives. Watching the temple burn on Sunday night thereby becomes cathartic for many.

Given the high level of creativity and intelligence which seems to be common amongst Burning Man attendees, many of these memorials and statements were just heartbreaking. I started reading some of them on the morning of the temple burn, and eventually had to stop.

Where I camped

The portion of Black Rock City available for camping has street signs like these. The concentric circles expanding outward from "The Man" are noted A-L, and the radial streets are given clock designations between 2:00 and 10:00. Generally the aforementioned letters are expanded into full words based on that year's artistic theme, in this case "Columbine" after the Aquilegia perennial flower.

I picked this location for its proximity to the "Opulent Temple" dance camp, which was located at A and 10:00.


This dance camp, which called itself Osiris, was located near Opulent Temple. Note the people standing inside their pyramid to get a sense of its size (it's 60 feet tall at its apex).

Their pyramid was designed by a professional structural engineer who happened to be a member of their camp. It's constructed from 36,000 lbs of recycled industrial steel, and they've made its plans available online in case you'd like to build one of your own.

A mutant vehicle

It turns out the term "mutant vehicle" is preferred to "art car": the latter implies the vehicle is street legal, while something like this obviously is not.

The maker of this vehicle combined a boat which was no longer seaworthy with a cement truck's engine and wheels.

Black Rock City at night

I had a tremendously difficult time taking a photograph which actually captured what Black Rock City looks like at night. But imagine what you see here surrounding you in every direction, and extending off into the distance, with no two things the same, and you're at least on the right track.

I find the appearance of Black Rock City at night to be a powerful metaphor: it's what the world might look like if you could actually see what makes each human being unique.

Opulent Temple at night

I took this photograph just four minutes after the last one, hoping to capture the positive and energetic nature of Opulent Temple's dances. Fortunately just as I was taking this photograph they fired the overhead flamethrowers, illuminating the entire frame in the same way some random flash of light behind me illuminated the last.

That was one of the great things about Opulent Temple: when the music reached a peak, that peak wasn't just accompanied by more intense light, but by an overhead flamethrower blast which made heat accompany the light.

Tendrillar Woods, burning

On Thursday night the circle of sculptures surrounding "The Man," which were contributed by the regional Burning Man organizations, is burned. This was Seattle's contribution.

Root Society's "Womb" at night

The sight of the green lanterns, suspended from the top of the geodesic dome, against the open air, clouds, and moon, was just spectacular.

Death Guild

This camp re-creates the experience of the gladiatorial game from the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

The Dreambox

You were invited to write your greatest dream on the inside of one of this structure's walls. I wrote "My dream is for scientific discovery to continue: understanding the universe is how we show it that we care."

Of course we have no reason to believe our universe is aware of anything at all, but if I'm not allowed poetic license here, then where?

The Temple on the evening of its burn

As you can see this was a much larger structure than my earlier photographs may have suggested, and included a courtyard with four smaller freestanding spires.


I offered to give two people from a neighboring camp a ride from Black Rock City to San Francisco, which was my next destination. I'm very glad I did; the conversation was excellent, and frankly just what I needed.

O'Looney's Market

These days most people who obtain the "Shut Up Little Man" (aka "Peter and Raymond") recordings probably do so through iTunes. If you download the "Shut Up Little Man - Complete Recordings" package through iTunes, then go to the second track on album two ("I Was a Mean..."), you'll hear someone issue a challenge to meet outside of "O'Looney's." That's this place.

The Legion of Honor

This wonderful art museum is located near the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to curating and presenting fine art, it also engages in serious art history research. Recently, this research resulted in the remarkable discovery that the titles of several of its most important works were incorrect. In the pictures from this museum which follow, each will be given its new title rather than its old title.

The real titles of the preceding artworks

All joking aside, what follows are the real titles of the preceding artworks, in order from the first posted to the last posted:

  1. Architecture. An oil painting by Charles-Andre Vanloo, circa 1753.
  2. The Prodigal Son. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, before 1887.
  3. The Three Shades. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, circa 1880.
  4. St. John the Baptist Preaching. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, circa 1878.
  5. The Kiss. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, circa 1886.
  6. Marie-Anne Carolus-Duran. Detail of an oil painting by Emile Carolus-Duran, 1874.
  7. The Broken Pitcher. Detail of an oil painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1891.

My path along the TransAmerica Trail

After visiting the clock museum I turned east to follow the TransAmerica Trail from Eugene OR to Stites ID, which took two days. I left a GPS track recording application running on my phone the whole time, which yielded the map displayed here.

In general terms, this route amounts to the following:

  1. SR-126 to Prineville OR
  2. US-26 to Austin Junction OR
  3. SR-7 to Baker City OR
  4. SR-86 to Brownlee Dam at the Idaho border
  5. SR-71 to Cambridge ID
  6. US-95 to Grangeville ID
  7. SR-13 to Stites ID