More Impressive Sculptures of Burning Man 2015… Part 2

Brickhead sculpture at Burning Man 2015

Central Americans could have come on this sculpture a thousand years ago and felt right at home.

I was surprised when I came across James Tyler’s brick head sculpture as I was cycling across the Playa. I had just struggled through several inches of thick dust that had bogged my bike down and required all of my attention. (The Black Rock Desert gives a whole new meaning to dirt biking.) Hitting solid ground, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up. The sculpture was directly in front of me, maybe a hundred yards away. Like the molecule sculptures I featured in my last post, it seemed like a perfect fit for the desert. There was something powerful and ancient in the sculpture, but it also seemed surprisingly modern. Earth was written across its forehead. Tyler, I learned, hails from New York and specializes in ceramic brick heads. His work can be found throughout the country. To learn more, visit his website.

More and more robots will be in our future, guaranteed. Artificial intelligence and robotics are racing forward at Mach speed. Many of the jobs we do today will be done by machines in 10-20 years, if not sooner. For example, Peggy and I rarely vacuum anymore. Robota the Roomba does the job. She even cleans under our couch and beds, which is something we rarely did. In fact, I’m convinced she goofs off there, hiding out where we can’t see her. When her battery runs low she scoots back to the charger and recharges herself. The upside of robotics is obvious, but what about the downside. Isaac Asimov’s series on robots were among the first science fiction books I ever read. Will there come a time in our future when robots run the world and look down on us as the highly inefficient, messy creatures we are? Christian Ristow’s 30-foot tall robot sculpture at Burning Man was designed to encourage conversations about robots and our future. Check out Ristow’s website to learn more about this fascinating artist and his giant creatures.

Burning Man robot in front of Center Camp Cafe

The robot and his dog, Subjugator, seem to be guarding the Center Camp Cafe in this photo by Don Green.

2015 Burning Man robot holds a flower in one hand and a bike in the other

The bike in the robot’s left hand tickled me. It may have been a prank.

 2015 Burning Man robot faces the playa and Medusa

Looking out toward the Playa, the robot faces Medusa. I wonder if he considered the snake headed woman as competition.

2015 Burning Man robot sniffs flower

Will the robots of our future be kind creatures that stop and smell the flowers?

And, as they say on late night television, there is more. Isn’t there always?

  • A lovely white dragon named Akle by Swig Miller reminds me of the Pern series by Ann McCaffrey. Miller built the sculpture as a memorial to his dog, Elka.
  • Twelve foot high letters made of steel urge us to Dream, Live, and Be OK. This message was designed by Laura Kempton and built by Jeff Schomberg. Believe, a project of theirs created for an earlier Burning Man, was recently sold to Reno.
  • A giant Meta-heart built by Jonathan Hamilton should serve to remind my readers that Valentine’s Day is a week away (grin).
  • Have you ever seen a light show that played classical music instead of something loud and raucous? Bay Area artist Christopher Schardt’s creation did just that. Burners lay down on their backs in the Playa dust to watch the show.
Side view of White Dragon Sculpture at Burning Man 2015

The White Dragon looks quite smug as she surveys her kingdom of Burning Man.

Rear view of White dragon sculpture at Burning Man

I couldn’t resist a butt shot.

 Burning Man art message to Dream, Live, and Be OK

The following signs urge Burners to Dream, Live, and Be OK.

Burning Man 2015 art message to Live, Dream and Be OK

 Burning Man art message in 2015 to Be OK

The giant 3-D heart came with a jungle gym to crawl on.

The giant 3-D heart came with a jungle gym to crawl on.

Burning Man Art light show in 2015

We saw this light show from a distance and immediately biked over to it.

2015 Burning Man art light show

The colors changed constantly while music played.

Green light show art at Burning Man 2015

Silhouettes of dancers worked across the screen.

Burners enjoy light show at Burning Man 2015

Burners lay on their backs in the dust and enjoyed the show.

And finally, several of you have asked how large art makes it to Burning Man. I provide an example with Christian Breeden’s Colossal Skeletal Marionette.

Dancing skeleton on big rig at Burning Man

Large art such as the dancing skeleton are brought to Burning Man on big rigs. Often the art has been broken down into several pieces and is reassembled when it arrives. Large cargo containers may be used to protect the art.

NEXT BLOG: My third installment on the Sculptures of Burning Man.

28 comments on “More Impressive Sculptures of Burning Man 2015… Part 2

  1. We bought one the automatic Robovac cleaner. I was fascinated how it would get in every nook and cranny. We gave it away to our daughter. The cleaning by normal vacume cleaner does a better job. Of course, no vacuming at all is the real answer.

  2. Curt thank you for showing the transport and how that works. Now a question for you, an apologies if I missed this fact in one of your posts, how big an area does Burning Man take up?

  3. Oh! Akle (cleverly using his dog’s name, backwards) is the winner! She is stunning! And the butt photo shows her looking toward a white ball in the distance, possibly she is wishing for an egg. I agree: so much like the cover art for Dragonriders of Pern.

    The Earth head is just beautiful and I am delighted to see mirrors again in the heart. ❤ Hope you spoiled your Valentine today. 😉

    • I was touched by his desire to use Akle as a memorial to his pet. I immediately thought of Pern. Those stories were a great deal of fun if you like fantasy. McCaffrey produced a wonderful world. I thought the Earth head was one of the most impressive pieces of art out in the Playa. –Curt

  4. Love the light show and I’d probably lie in the dust and look up. Why not? You’re already covered in earthy stuff and where are you gonna find another light show in the desert? Great photos, Curt. Especially the one that shows the rig used in transporting the art. I still can’t believe what I’m seeing and how things get there. Pretty awesome.

    • Laughing, yes we all have our share of dust and dirt. When you have a 30-baby wipe night cleaning up, you know you’ve had a dust filled day. You might have a wreck driving down the freeway if you passed the truck carrying the puppet skeleton! Thanks, Rusha. –Curt

  5. So… now you let us in on the secret of how these pieces (and likely vehicles) made it there! Hiring long hauls like that don’t come cheap. What a logistical nightmare the traffic must be in addition to the equipment!

    When I saw that robot, I immediately remembered the Ghilbli animation called “Castle in the Sky”. Well, I think that’s what its called in English (天空の城ラピュタ). My kids watched a number of Ghibli animations (all in Japanese) over and over including this one.

    • There is a whole big fleet of trucks parked on the outer edges of Burning Man, Koji. And yes, it is part of the significant cost of bringing art and mutant vehicles to Burning Man. The robot could very easily fit into one of the Japanese monster flicks. What classics they were. –Curt

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