Bureau of Land Management increases population cap for Burning Man

M Otis Beard sez, "Today the Bureau of Land Management issued a multi-year permit good through 2016 for Burning Man, increasing the population cap to 68,000." This is a big deal -- in recent years, there's been a mad scramble for tickets as it appeared that the number of would-be attendees would outstrip the BLM cap. It all ended up coming to naught, but the writing is on the wall: Burning Man is growing beyond the BLM's (old) max size. Cory 4

Building a 15-foot-tall brain-controlled brain for Burning Man and beyond

My cousin Katherine Leipper is part of a crew that's building a 15-foot-tall head and brain with interactive light and flame effects that will be controlled by a participant's brain waves.

Yup. Weirdness runs in our family.

She and her co-makers will take it to Burning Man, but the bigger plan is to take it around to schools after the festival, "to get kids excited about science, technology and fabrication."

Katherine and her brain-building buddies have a crowdsourcing campaign under way. They're well on their way, but if you love 15-foot-tall brain-controlled brains like I love 15-foot-tall brain-controlled brains, and you think America's children need more 15-foot-tall brain-controlled brains in their classrooms because SCIENCE, you should kick in a little to ensure this weird dream comes true.

Katherine explains the wild idea to Boing Boing, below:

Read the rest

Blinkytape: kickstarting a smart strip of LEDs

Todd sez, "Check out this awesome LED strip lights controlled by a simple controller board. Matt Mets went through the Haxlr8r program and came out with this project, with the help of Marty McGuire and Max Henstell. Just a few days left to get in on it."

BlinkyTape is a one meter long, full-color light tape with 60 independent RGB LEDs controlled by our custom light processor. Power and communications are provided by a built-in micro-USB connector. An on-board button allows for simple interactions such as choosing between effects.

BlinkyTape is flexible, so you can easily integrate it into any shape your project needs. BlinkyTape also comes enclosed in weatherproof silicone, so it's suitable for outdoor use!

It's $50 minimum pledge for a meter of the tape (as with all Kickstarters: caveat emptor, you may get nothing).

BlinkyTape: The LED Strip Reinvented (Thanks, Todd)

HOWTO die at Burning Man

M Otis Beard sez, "You don't often hear about the deaths that happen at Burning Man. Here is an overview that just might save your life." Be that as it may, Black Rock City has extraordinarily low mortality compared to comparably populated/sized areas in the USA. Cory

Nevada bans counties from gouging Burning Man

M Otis Beard sez, "The Nevada State Assembly has passed a bill that forbids the counties from charging permit fees to Burning Man and other festivals. . . but has anything really changed?" Cory

Nevada State Legislature poised to take regulation of Burning Man away from state and local cops

M Otis Beard sez, "A bill gaining support in the Nevada State Assembly would make Burning Man hands-off for state and county law enforcement officials, and subject only to Federal authority."

Each year, the local sheriff has been jacking Burning Man for increasing per-head fees, and the county's conservative lawmakers have been passing silly-season unconstitutionalities, like a law prohibiting a man from being naked in the presence of a child. It's combination of revenue generation and garden-variety harassment, and there had been rumbles about the festival taking up local native groups on an invitation to move it to Paiute land where the county wouldn't get a say.

“Earlier this morning, the Chamber supported AB 374 in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. This bill, pushed by Assemblyman David Bobzien, came about because of threats by some rural counties to start charging local permitting fees and increasing costs for the Burning Man festival that comes to the Black Rock Desert every summer. This bill would prohibit any local government from interfering with a federally-licensed event on federal land. We strongly support this concept because of the enormous positive economic impact that Burning Man attendees have on our region.”

Some of the problem stems from the fact that Burning Man is held just over a county line; all the on-the-way spending done by burners takes place in Washoe county, but once you turn off to head to the playa, you're in Pershing county, and that's also when the ban on (most) commerce begins. So the county doing the legislating has no real financial stake in the festival continuing. So the local law gets to screw the neighboring county, threatening its one of its major source of economic activity and win points with the voters by harassing hippies.

The Man vs. the Man: Will Local Authorities Be Booted From Burning Man? (Thanks, M Otis Beard!)

Electroluminescent paint: like EL wire you apply with a brush

A company called Lumilor has announced a permanent electroluminescent paint that can be selectively illuminated by applying a charge to it. Burning Man attendees are already familiar with the ubiquitous, cheap EL wire, but this takes things to a new level:

The LumiLor TM electroluminescent coating system is a patent-pending, practical, durable and affordable technology that can be illuminated with a simple electrical current.

Used in conjunction with simple driver electronics, LumiLor will illuminate any surface brightly, and is capable of being custom-animated to flash in sequenced, strobed, and sound activated modes.

The potential for customization is practically limitless!

ABOUT LUMILOR (via JWZ)

Beautiful, cleverly fastened wooden sculptures from the architect for this year's Burning Man temple


M. Otis Beard writes, "Gregg Fleishman, the architect whose team was awarded the honorarium grant to build the Temple for Burning Man 2013 today, makes insane sculpture, furniture, toy cars, etc. out of single pieces of flat plywood, with no metal fasteners, joints, nails, or screws. Some of his pieces even incorporate wooden hinges and springs."

The 2013 Temple design is highly geometrical, and will be built using Fleishman’s patented connectors at each joint, capitalizing on the intrinsic strength of the arch at every opportunity in an interlocking jigsaw of triangles and pyramids. No nails, screws, or other metal connectors will be used at all. The gross form of the Temple will consist of a large central trussed pyramid, sixty-four feet tall and eighty-seven feet square, with four smaller satellite pyramids measuring twenty feet tall and twenty-nine feet at the base, intricately interlocked and ornamented in Fleishman’s signature style: Archimedes, Pythagoras, and R. Buckminster Fuller holding hands and enjoying some really good acid.

Temple Builders Revealed! (Thanks, M. Otis!)

Maria Del Camino: an art-car that's part tank, part El Camino

Wired Design has a great short video documentary on my friend Bruce Tomb, who has built an amazing art-car called Maria Del Camino that's part tank, part 59 El Camino, part flying car. I camp with Bruce and his wife Mary and our friends at Burning Man, along with Maria, at the Liminal Labs camp every summer. Maria is such a wonderful addition to our Burn!

The outcome might not be what you’d expect. With the help of some friends, Tomb created “Maria del Camino.” She’s an excavator topped with a 1959 El Camino, mounted on a hydraulic array that lifts it high off the ground. Her body is adorned with thousands of drilled-out holes, and her hood sports a portrait of the robot woman from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which shines when the light hits it. In simple terms, it’s nothing but sheer magnificence.

Maria is currently being worked on at the DIY space Nimby in Oakland California. We stopped by to ask Tomb how — and why — he built his “flying” car, and he took us for a beer run, stopping traffic along the way.

As for future modifications, Tomb has a big one in mind. “Been working on removing the manual controls,” he says. “I’ve heard driverless cars are all the rage!”

This Homemade ‘Flying Car’ Can’t Exactly Fly, But It Still Turns Heads [Annaliza Savage/Wired]

Pyrobar: flaming, booze-dispensing art-car seeks Kickstarter funds for refurb

The Pyrobar, a roving, flaming, booze-dispensing art-car that's a staple of Burning Man, is nearing the end of its Kickstarter, and needs to raise another $4,000 or so in maintenance funds to help refurbish and improve it for this summer's festivities:

The Pyrobar started its charmed life in 2004 with a collective of artists called Clan Destino. This raucous Santa Barbara based performance group had built a few art cars for the famed Burning Man festival, with this one being built under the namesake to be the grandest and last under their tutelage. In this vision, they took a 1975 chevy RV and ripped it up and warped into a roving box of splendid adult entertainment. After a few strong years of providing to the Playa and beyond, this trusty steed was left in a lonely, Reno storage lot, waiting for its next life. That day came in 2010 when its current owners, Mark and Corinna, heard the calling from afar, and acted on on it immediately. Pyrobar's next phase took it to a new aesthetic height and direction, reflecting the mystic and wacky stylings of an Afghani jingle truck with a constantly growing degree of detail and offerings.

PYROBAR - 3.0.2. - Ignite Burning Man's Favorite Flame (Thanks, Marc!)

Maria Del Camino, a mutant excavator mated to a 59 El Camino, with the face of Maria from Metropolis


Maria Del Camino is Bruce Tomb's magnificent mutant vehicle. It started out life as the body of a '59 El Camino, and was then riddled with thousands of hand-drilled holes, turning it into a meshwork. On the hood, the holes form a pointillist portrait of Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The whole thing was then mounted on an armature supported by a hydraulic tracked excavator, giving it the ability to rumble along at an angle, or poised many feet above the tank-treads, or vertically.

Bruce is one of my Burning Man campmates at Liminal Labs, and he brought Maria out again this year, and took her out early in the morning to the deep playa -- the area of the desert well away from the main action -- and used a GPS and the excavator blade to carve and burnish a huge piece of vector art out of the desert surface, with the intention of having it captured by the Google satellite flyover. He plans to make this process fully automated in future years, giving Maria the ability to turn herself into a giant, diesel-powered mutated Etch-a-Sketch.

Bruce has just updated Maria's blog with some beautiful photos and videos from this year's burn, and a report from the burnishing experiment:

The maximum deviation of the GPS unit is stated as 33 feet and can be as accurate as 3 feet. The graphic deviation showing in this satellite photo, is purely me following instructions from the device, setting aside my perceptions and judgement. This makes evident that there are greater inaccuracies than stated, and illustrates the inherent paradox of this civilian down market version of an ultra precise technology developed by and for the military. I would be wary of relying on this particular device alone to keep a boat off the rocks.

The western edge of the drawing is on hard playa almost like asphalt, so the line is very shallow. Here, Maria’s blade mostly burnished the playa. The east west lines were especially dramatic and reflected the lavender light of the sunrise. Photos by Anne Klint will be posted soon to show this, but here with this photo, the lines are virtually illegible. The strongest track is the north/south line on the eastern edge of the square. This was due to both the conditions of the playa and the GPS signal/device. The playa in this area was covered with drifts of dust, 6” deep or more, not unlike snow drifts, very soft, and difficult to traverse, even with Maria’s 18” wide rubber tracks. While driving this particular track the signals were quite different than all the rest, perhaps a product of a slower speed. If the resolution of this image were higher, you would see a very tight, regular, serpentine or sinusoidal line with an amplitude of about 15-20 feet and a period of about 50 feet. The noodles at the corners are me following directions from the device to land on a precise waypoint. As I approached a corner, I would slow down and make minor adjustments as needed, inching along to left, to right, back again, then sitting there for about 15 minutes to let the signal settle down to 0 degrees of travel angle and 0 feet distance from my destination.

Maria Del Camino (Thanks, Bruce!)

(Photos by Anne Klint)

Burning Man 2012 flyover

Here's a rather magnificent flyover of this year's Burning Man's Black Rock City. Look closely and you'll see our glorious Liminal Labs camp, just off 6 O'Clock and Rod's Road.

BURNING MAN FPV - Black Rock City Aerial Tour 2012 (Thanks, Nicola!)

Burning Man's Temple of Remembrance


Ian Alexander Norman contributed his long-exposure pic of this year's Temple of Remembrance at Burning Man to the Boing Boing Flickr pool. The Temple is a huge, ornate structure that burners fill up with their regrets, grief, memorials and testaments to their dead, their lost, and their sorrows. Last Sunday night, we burned the Temple in near silence (one jackass in an art car broke up the silence by repeatedly blasting Freebird), and watched the sorrows go up in flame. I wrote a remembrance there for my good friend Possum Man, and it was cathartic to see it all burn, surrounded by tens of thousands of other people watching their own fires.

Update: Xeno Evil sez, "I just wanted to say that the rendition of Freebird that you heard was not a jackass. It was a tribute to a dear friend and solid DPW member who used to always play the song before he was killed a couple months ago in Austin. His name was Joey Jello and he was an exemplary human being, he actually made most of DPW take stock and try to be better people. He had 'Never Betray' tattooed on his neck backwards so that whenever he looked in the mirror, he'd be reminded of his commitment to live by his moral standards. When we play freebird (and I, personally, HATE the song) it's not to bother other people, it's to remind us to be better people because Joey was better than all of us, he was amazing, weird and great. His absence has left a void of awesome that all of us in DPW feel needs to be filled. Working DPW is weird and hard and it takes a certain punk rock lifestyle... it takes its toll and we all die a little too soon. Joey's not the first of us to die, but I'd like you to know why Freebird was playing,

The Temple

Two fun little videos from Burning Man

Comedian, video curator, and filmmaker Mark Day of YouTube went to Burning Man this year on a last-minute whim, and shot some neat video vignettes:

About this video, he explains, "At Burning Man 2012, the Mayan TRIcycle brings the workings of the Mayan calendar to life with human powered gears-within-gears."

Read the rest

Burning Man on Instagram: photos by sfslim

I cannot get to Burning Man this year because I'm in cancer treatment. It's funny, too, because the experience of going through that has given me a new kind of fondness for the annual playa festivities. The freedom, the wide open spaces, the happiness of mutants.

Following long-time Burner Aaron Muszalski (@sfslim) on Instagram is the next best thing, and I recommend it strongly, whether or not you're going to be in Black Rock City in person. He's a talented photographer, and he captures the whimsy, the art, the beauty of those vast desert expanses with the comfort of one who knows them all intimately. Bonus: you don't have to get any dust up your gullet.

To all out there as I type this, have lots of sex and fire and drugs and candyraving and shirtcocking for me.

"SFSLIM," on Webstagram, or receive his photos via Twitter. Wish Instagram had a searchable web interface.

And if you'd like to watch the live video webcast from Burning Man, you'll find that here on Ustream.