Preface to readers that are not in the burn scene:
I started Töad Meädow because I wanted to give other people the sense of artistic freedom and empowerment that I first experienced upon joining the Burning Man community in 2004. A fire sculpture that I made in 2011 and have displayed at several regional Burning Man events occasionally gets banned at these events. Right now, an online hate mob has formed to assassinate my character and encourage yet more censorship. Amid the din of my haters’ melodramatic caterwauling, some people respectfully approach me in good faith and ask questions about the piece. The following essay is directed at them.
Recent cultural changes have lead to more people living in an ideological “echo chamber.” They are rarely exposed to diverse ideas or the experiences of people from different backgrounds or outlooks.
The exchange of ideas and different opinions enriches all parties that partake in mature discussion. Unfortunately, civil discussion is on the decline in America, and this decline is invading the regional Burning Man scene.
I have had a piece censored twice at two separate regional burns. The first time, at Playa del Fuego (PDF), I thought was a fluke due to a unique relationship between the people that owned the land and the PDF directors.
The second time it was censored, the explicit reasons given were that someone complained that the sculpture constituted “hate speech.”
The exact same piece has been displayed with no problems at Frostburn, Freeform, Transformus (multiple times) and Burning Man itself.
Censorship has happened to me twice, and it can happen to you or an artist you care about. It has a suffocating effect on human interaction and must be stopped before it spreads further.
What you can do
- Contact the Burning Man Organization. Do this right now. Tell them that you are concerned about censorship, and to force regionals to have a no-compromise anti-censorship policy before they will receive Burning Man’s sanction. Regional burns go through a lot of trouble to be recognized by Burning Man, so success here is a good way to preëmpt any wannabe petty tyrants who run the regional events.
- Talk about issues of expression and censorship both online and with people you meet at burns. Tell them about this campaign. Help us get a buzz going.
- Follow Töad Meädow’s social media accounts (linked in the right sidebar of this website). We will have a lot more to say as time goes on. Subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter, yadda yadda. Signing up for the mailing list will let you know when we post new blogs about this issue.
- Share your experiences with censorship either in our post comments or privately through our contact form.
So Amphibian 15:1 has been announced, and the buzz is growing. And the same two questions besiege me over and over. They keep coming to me second-hand, via friends-of-friends. So I’ll do my best to explain. Continue reading
Everything is temporary. Eventually, entropy will turn the universe into a pile of goo. The state that your consciousness occupies right this fucking second has changed and is gone by the time you finish this sentence. The cute chicky-snack you met and fell in love with at the bar last night will never call you. The special moments you shared with her are gone.
So why do we spend so much time building intriguing and beautiful works of art, just to watch them be destroyed?
The destruction is a reminder. That amazing sculpture or whatever it is will soon be on fire. So while it exists, you better climb on it, smell it, look at it, take pictures of it, fuck it. Get the most you can out of it. Soak up the experience and artistry. Let it permeate your brain. Because it’s going to burn. You’ll miss your chance. Seize the day. Seize some art. Do some shit.
You can make the decision not to climb and touch and experience. Use the knowledge of that decision to acknowledge your limitations. The world doesn’t wait for you. You must keep up with the world the best that you can. We all do.
Here today, ashes tomorrow.
Flame effects like the BEAST are fun to build and operate, but a more mellow, sustainable fire can offer an ongoing ambiance that the big stuff just can’t. I had some old steel shelves lying around and decided to try making a flaming sign. For the pattern, I used the Sacred Bat, which is the symbol of my Burning Man camp Bat Country. I plan to give them this sign as a gift when it’s completed. As with anything I make these days, it will break down for easy transport and have a sturdy stand allowing you to set it up easily.
The sign itself is an old steel shelf that I cut out with a plasma cutter. The flames come from 1/4″ copper tubing that I bent to follow the contours of the bat. There are holes drilled along the copper tube for propane to come out. The tubing is held in place with stainless steel wire. I used stainless steel because it won’t corrode when exposed to the elements. And by “elements” I mean fire.
Still needs doing:
- Make a free standing sign stand
- Balance the fire so there’s more or less the same amount of flame at the end as there is at the beginning
One of the problems of making a flaming pipe with holes is that the gas likes to escape the holes towards the beginning of the run more than at the end. So the fire at the start of the pipe is bigger than that at the end. This is easy to see in the picture below where I had the gas pressure turned up higher. I hope to fix this by blocking up most of the holes towards the start and maybe drilling more towards the end. The other way to mitigate this effect would be to supply propane at both ends of the copper tube, but I’m hoping to avoid this as it’s much more work.
Not that the flames on one side are much higer than on the other.