2002 SUMMER NEWSLETTER
Burning Man Journal
All the News That's Fit to Burn Summer 2002
- A Growing Culture
- An Economy of Gifts
- The Black Rock Arts Foundation
- Cleanup Report for 2001
- Theme 2002: The Floating World
- Community Notes 2002
- AfterBurn Report
The Floating World
Reality is so big that we must protect ourselves from it. We make rooms, then hang pictures on the walls and think that whats outside must surely be a picture, too. But the rising tide of reality overspreads our boundaries. Our little worlds, in truth, are ships that float upon this sea. In the year 2002, we will cast off from shore. The Black Rock Desert will become an ocean, a deep and perilous span, forever filled with the unexpected. Our theme is about how we find our way through the world and what we seek and value in it. Prepare for a voyage of discovery.
The Known and Unknown
To help us chart a course through this seafaring world, we will construct a lighthouse. The sturdy bulwark at its base will form a carefully elaborated compass that divides our space and everything that we believe we know into 24 arcs of 15 degrees. From these compass points, lines of longitude will radiate outward. When overlaid by curving lines of latitude, theyll form a hemispheric grid or sea chart. The mile-wide span of our circular bay will be dotted by an archipelago of charted islands, each one a capsule world and unique work of art. Participants are urged to use this sea chart and its orienting compass as they navigate this floating world.
A heading, or straight line of travel, may be gained by sighting a fixed landmark along a line of longitude. Concentric lines of latitude, spaced at units of 200 feet, will measure distance from the central Lighthouse and the Burning Man. Together, these coordinates will constitute a bearing: a determined position in space. Buffeted by unexpected winds and invisible currents, confronted by the vast, blank, indifferent face of sea, mariners have always found their way by means of careful calculation. Your map and the enormous compass at the polar center of our ocean world will be your guide. As an additional aid to navigation, a foghorn mounted in the Solar Plexus of the Burning Man will sound during spells of foul weather, when even the shore of our city and the flashing beacon of its Lighthouse are obscured from view.
Beyond our bay, faraway in the offing, voyagers will encounter the Unknown: the soul and mystery of the sea, a place where chart and compass cannot guide us. No known points of destination will be entered on our sea chart in this region. Participants who journey there must find their way by means of what is called dead reckoning. An enormous octopus, a mysterious white whale, a giant clam that guards its horde of gleaming pearls these and many other wonders of the deep are said to reside in these waters, but only tales brought back by other travelers can furnish the intrepid voyager with a guide. Here, amid the vast tract of an undiscovered world, well set participants the task of finding treasure.
A Quest for Treasure
The treasure to be sought in the Unknown will take the form of gold doubloons imprinted with the likeness of the Burning Man. The possession of this treasure will entitle you to enter the Lighthouse and climb upward to the top of our spinning world immediately beneath Burning Man. Here youll witness the created chaos of our city as it swirls around you. To be admitted to the Lighthouse, you will be asked by its Keepers to surrender your treasure. You must determine the true value of the coin that you possess. You may retain this object as a piece of property, release it for a passage upward to the Burning Man, or give it to another person as a gift. Under no circumstances, however, is it permissible to barter or sell this coin, nor is it acceptable to collect more than one. This would be unfair to other voyagers who seek treasure. One coin per person is the rule. Each coin should represent a unique effort by a single individual. All who enter into the Lighthouse must solemnly swear to the Keepers that theyve discovered treasure by their own effort or received it as a gift.
We will also furnish participants with another way of finding treasure in the charted world of Black Rocks bay. The names and locations of theme camps participating in this treasure hunt will be indicated on our citys map. At each theme camp travelers will undergo a rite of passage and receive a special token. When you have collected three of these tokens, you must visit a fourth and final theme camp where you will be given one last token and a secret clue. This clue will be a measurement of latitude, a measurement of longitude, and a time. A sample clue: David Bests ritual at the Temple of Tears. 1300 feet latitude, 300 degrees longitude, and 7 PM. These coordinates will guide you to an island that appears and reappears each evening, continually shifting its location within our bay. You will also be instructed to take food and drink upon this journey. Your destination is the floating island of the Chaos Cabaret. This evanescent nightclub is devoted to the two purest forms of chaos: the Maelstrom and Abyss. The Maelstrom represents a violent, disordered, turbulent state bursting with activity. The Abyss is an immeasurable void, a place that is no place apart from what you choose to bring to it. Here youll encounter dinner theater such as you have never experienced. Upon surrendering the tokens of your passage and sharing food and drink with other travelers, you will receive a golden doubloon.
A City by the Sea
Black Rock City will become a coastal town in this year of the sea, and its Esplanade — literally a “level stretch of ground designed for walking along a shore” — will be a marina. Every type of seagoing vessel, from boats, yachts, and galleons to submarines and ocean liners, will be allowed to dock along our waterfront, provided they are firmly moored and have received permission from our harbormaster(at)burningman(dot)com.
We also encourage participants to contribute to the superabundant life of our bay. Pods of luminescent jellyfish and floating fields of lily pads will populate these waters, along with many other creatures, plants, and exotic visions. For descriptions of many of these artworks, please see the Theme Camps/Art Installations section of our website.
Lines of latitude and longitude will also mark the streets that span our city. The radial streets dividing the arc of Black Rock City will be measured in 15-degree increments of longitude, from 60 to 300 degrees (formerly indicated as 2 0’clock and 10 O’clock on our city’s plan). Each latitudinal street along the curve of this great arc will be named and assigned a number corresponding to our system of measuring distance from the Man. With the exception of the expanded block devoted to theme camps at the front of our settlement, each of these blocks will be spaced at 200-foot intervals, ranging from 2100 feet along the shoreline of the Esplanade to 3900 feet along its back street, the Abyss.
The distant island of Azuera will mark the outermost rim of our turning world. It will be located at 0 degrees longitude on a common axis with our Lighthouse and the center of our city, fixed at the exact dividing line separating the known and Unknown world. This is the embarkation place for all who sail beyond our bay in search of treasure. The many-tiered Temple of Joy will mark the island’s location. Some say that it is built upon the bones of former treasure seekers, while others say it was erected to release their spirits. By day, during spells of fair weather, participants will spy its shimmering tower pointing upward on the horizon, like a quivering compass needle. This landmark coincides with everything we know and do not know, with all that we have lost or hope to find. Here you will discover treasure in a form redeemed, not as hoarded wealth that’s coveted, but as a gift that gains its value in the sharing.
This adventure will depend on your immediate involvement. Once you have arrived at the Temple of Joy, you will be invited to write or tell the story of a gift that you have given or received that has changed your life or that of another. This might be a gift that is innate, such as a talent, or any other kind of gift that has been given you by a parent, a lover, a friend or a stranger that has affected what you are. If you feel that you have squandered gifts, feel free to tell this story too. We also encourage participants to create memorials to gifts or their givers and bring these to the temple. On Sunday evening, the Temple of Joy and its immense accumulated record of this passage of gifts will be set afire.
As always, any work of art is welcome on the playa. If your art is not related to our theme, please contact installations(at)burningman(dot)com. Artists producing work directly relating to this year’ s theme should contact themeart(at)burningman(dot)com. This will help us place your installation and map it on our sea chart.