Burning Man 2015. Part 3 – Art and Mutants

Art, in any manifestation, is a major part of the festival. Art installations and mutants are a hallmark of Burning Man.

2. From the most simple, unsophisticated immature attempts concocting something like this…

3. … to complicated constructions, on which professional artists spent a tremendous amount of strength, time and resources.

4. It’s pretty obvious that there is no point in trying to tell not only about all the installations – there were 260 of them this year – but event just about one of them. Because what would be the point of trying to tell about or even show something what is meant to be seen live? Can a photograph the size of a bent in half magazine communicate the scale and context of this masterpiece?

5. Is it possible to feel the size and volume of woman and to see the movements of her chest from “breathing” by looking at the photo?

6. No two-dimensional picture is capable to translate a three-dimensional reality. And no photoeditor filters and settings can reproduce constantly transforming sunset colors, reflected on the sculpture. Just a hint, a frozen in time moment. It’s by far more rich and deep live.

7. So, what was the point of photographing? To remember what has been lived. As to live, looking at the photos, without have had been there, alas, not possible. Therefore, those who have – recollect, those who haven’t – this is another reminder for you to put this destination on your bucket list.

8. Most of the installations are interactive. Mirrors can be turned, combining the view angles.

9. You may also do this, what’s it without a selfie.

10. In correspondence with the festival theme there were many mirror ideas. The most memorable one was a dark room underneath The Man, where semitransparent mirror with lights on the sides was installed. By regulating the lighting you could set the reflection in such a way, so that your half-lit face can be combined with the half-lit face of a person sitting on the other side of the mirror. Brain, naturally, would freeze right there and then, seeing half-you and half-other person in one face.

11. You can touch the installations and stand on them.

12. You may and should climb them, because then they look event more convincing and organic. The wooden ones will, most likely, be burned.

13. As for these, perhaps, they will live on their glorious age somewhere in San Francisco or New York.

14. 3-D paintings gallery.

15. Standing and listening for a few minutes what visitors are saying, I understand, that there are a lot of people here involved in art. By the appearance they are indistinguishable neither from office plankton, nor from us, hobos.

16. If you own a pair of 3-D glasses, drag this picture to your desktop, open it in actual size and see, if it’ll work.

17. “Love” by Alexandr Milov – my fellow-countryman – from Odessa, Ukraine.

It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. The figures of the protagonists are made in the form of big metal cages, where their inner selves are captivated. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children chart to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives. via

The sculpture is almost 60 feet long, 26 feet tall, 18 feet wide and 4 tons heavy. After the festival “Love” is planned to be installed in Odessa.

18. At night the children light up like this.

19. A lot of art installations carry in themselves not only esthetic, but also practical functions. For example, Black Rock City Time Out Corner. It’s located at the farthest point from the city. Here is a complete silence, peacefulness and protection from the wind. And if you try to not pay attention to the dried out alien mummies, than you can relax and mediate to the extraterrestrial calming sounds coming from speakers and a light rustle of the revolving windmill.

20. A swell place.

21. This giant ball is a night installation. The quantity of colors and the variety of light combinations are countless. In the darkness you can easily trip without any mushrooms.

22. The “Earth Harp”. On the other side the strings are attached to the Temple. The sound is rich and definitely unearthly.

23. The tower. At night it serves as a light house to all who live in this vicinity, especially in the moments of a not very sober mind. Considerably not so tall, but to see the surroundings and shoot some photos – perfectly feasible.

24. Also an art installation, though more an auxiliary effect for attracting more attention to the club.

25. Art dash Atr (attraction). In the distance is also art. There is, probably, the most powerful club on all the playa. Nowhere and never have I experienced on myself such vibrations of subs, standing about 150 feet from them.

26. Art-heater, at night the fires are made here. This is 3:00 plaza, our street. I’m starting to miss this place 🙂

27. There are 245 installations remaining. Not sure, if there are people, who saw them all. Most important, is that they all have been seen and valued by someone.

Now about the mutants. That is how all the cars are called, that are allowed to cruise the playa. All cars can ride the streets – which, of course, no one does. As to drive in the “city center” and on Esplanade, only specially mutilated cars can do that. Mutants.

Roughly speaking, mutants divide up into five categories (in my head at least):
1. Hardcore-mutants in the literal sense of the word. That is, the cars that can look anything, but cars. And it’s their main purpose – to look like this and to amaze. Usually they are delivered by trailers, as they won’t be able to drive on freeways.
2. Mutants-clubs. Acoustic systems on wheels, transporting their music into any part of the city. Often mounted on truck base. Usually, they drive here on their own.
3. Mutants-light. “City buses”, also with music, but more equipped for bigger capacity than volume. In most cases they “mutate” with exterior covers, in point of fact still being trucks and buses.
4. Mutants-private carts and anything motorized. Those, who have upgraded from bike to four wheels also need to “mutilate” their jalopy in order to be allowed to ride it on playa. Most commonly they are electric golf carts, or something in between lawn mower and moped.
5. Mutants-show cars. Considerably new occurrence at Burning Man. Cars evidently custom made for very serious money, and driven by people who don’t really hang out with ordinary burners.

28. And now, how it all looks. Mutant-private cart based on a golf-car have gone haywire right in front of our home. Typically they are driven by the most simple-hearted burners, always ready to give a lift to pedestrians or to treat them with something.

29. One more telega: overgrown by ginger moss Ford Crown Victoria from the 80’s. Pretty simple.

30. Hardcore-Mutant based on International truck. This is a serious one, even an extra axle is added in case of overload. Behind him is a baby triceratops, also a complete car-size mutant.

31. Mutant-light on Ford base, “city bus” with its own sound. Most likely will drive home itself.

32. A full-fledged mutant, in the first place, and a bus, in the second. Seems that previously it was a Ford truck, the one that FedEx uses. A true Burning Man old-school: wood, shutters, back of a tram, upstairs bed with golden knobs and all.

33. On the left is a light one – previously a school bus – in cardboards and with additional storey. In my opinion, unnecessary machinery on playa. On the right is a hardcore-passenger-carrier. Designed with random playa pedestrians in mind, judging by the capacity of the bike rack and almost complete absence of acoustic equipment. Exactly what’s needed!

34. The most hardcorest-hardcore, complete DIY. In three days, naturally, it broke down. The girl just spent the night here. It was probably to far to walk home.

35. A lot of mutants are not for the first or even the second time on the playa. A proud bumper.

36. Mutant-locomotive on Isuzu base. Hoots like a real one. In the beginning of the week it’s not a problem to jump on anything that moves. Closer to the end – only passengers of their own, or those who reserved a spot. Lately, there is a bad tendency to pick up only beautiful girls and boys, like at the clubs. Burners are not happy.

37. One of the loudest mutant-clubs on the playa. So loud, the pupils shake from the sound. Just to have an idea where the sound comes from: one of the owners of a similar mutant, or maybe even this particular sound-car, wrote in the local newspaper (yes, they do have it too) that acoustic and light equipment could cost around $500,000.

38. One more true-mutant, built completely by hand. Also has died the death of the brave on the fifth day. Not surprisingly. The people riding the car don’t just stand still, holding onto the handrails and gazing around with gloomy faces. The people are partying, rocking this poor clumsy-short-legged-car far and wide with their jumping and dancing. So the axle cracked.

39. So, DIY mutants don’t really work. Only the alternated cars – base and chassis should be original.

40. And then put and hang on top whatever you like, event a crane.

41. Aha, and here is the mutant-show car. You can tell right away that this is a different level of engineering, quality and materials. And if in the previous examples we see the obvious handmade work, here the professionals worked in their shops, where different custom – buggies and motorcycles are built. Buddy and his girlfriend are also from a somewhat different category of burners.

I’m not judging anyone and I’m not saying that this is bad. But. The conversation has risen a few times, that in its essence a free from competition, superiority and rivalry concept of Burning Man begins to get penetrated by parasites such as promoting themselves DJs, glamour models and rich dudes, who drive or fly here in their own isolated from everyone else groups and intentionally excelling everything and everyone with their expensive things and costumes. Perhaps this guy in the photo is an absolutely normal burner, just a well-provided person. But even if it’s accurate, still him and his monster are the visual explanation of why we hear more and more often the phrase “Burning Man is not what it used to be”.

42. And last, but not the least. Mutant-mutant. Tractor that carries on his trailer a piece of a real house with another trailer carrying an outhouse (the house was taken apart somewhere in the mountains, brought home and put together again).

43. We saw it for the first time in 2010. At that time wallpaper was white and curtains clean. The shanty has worn out over the years, but still looks pretty good.

44. There were many other things that drove, crawled, grumbled and tinkled on the playa, can’t show them all. Most importantly is that these monsters yet again have set a great mood for all of us. And for that we are thankful!

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