You have probably heard of/about ‘Burning Man,’ and you have most probably heard wrong. The general perception is that Burning Man is full of debauchery and hedonism (which it is) but there is so much more to the makeshift community than that. I found it to be a place for self-expression without judgement. A place where you can let your ‘inner freak’ loose, meet others of your kind, and have the chance to remove yourself from the daily grind.
Located just outside of Reno, you drive away from the colourful, hustle and bustle of Nevada into an expanse of dry lake bed. The further you get into the desert, the more you start forgetting the real world and become immersed into another. The atmosphere is liberal and benevolent, it fosters creativity and unlocks the more reserved part of your psyche.
If you cut the festival in half, creativity would flow freely.
If you cut the festival in half, creativity would flow freely. TEDX talks were a key draw and covered a wide range of topics including ‘Creative Truth ~ Intentional Lives’ by Crimson Rose and ‘Fail Smart’ by Jon La Grace, all with the underlying theme of freedom, peace and general happiness.
Burning Man is unique and unlike any festivals you may have been to previously, the emphasis lies in self organisation and the community that can be created by people with a similar vision of the world uniting. There are less organised events and more self developed activities to participate in. Wherever you look, sculptures are being created and people are performing – artistic expression is rife.
Over the past few decades, the quality of architecture created at Burning Man has been outstanding. This year pre-fabrication and repetitive patterns gathered from the environment were a noticeable trend, the level of intricacy afforded by certain techniques has really pushed the design forward.
It was a creative and diverse melting pot of ideas, inspiring the unusual and peculiar.
It was a creative and diverse melting pot of ideas, inspiring the unusual and peculiar. Some of the most beautiful structures I witnessed included Arbour, Cirque du Reflexions, Totem of Confessions and the Mazu Temple. Being part of a team creating a structure to be burnt in the grand finale gave me the chance to gain hands on experience in construction, this opportunity highlighted the need for prototypes, experiment and testing thoroughly before jumping into the final design. It also highlighted the need for planning, creating a project with so many passionate architects, with so many ideas can be amazing, but also unproductive at times.
A final takeaway was provided by my mentor Kevin Scholl, he used Hunter S. Thompson to sum up the festival and my experience perfectly – “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming Wow! What a Ride!”