art and science meet at Burning Man

IMG_0002Ten years ago this weekend I went with my brother to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to help with his art installation, The Jupiter Fone, at Burning Man. He had made a radio telescope and set it to receive the signal of the planet Jupiter as it passed by a certain time each day, and you could listen. You could also send your own signal – words or whatever – to Jupiter in case anyone is listening there. My brother is a telescope scientist in the aerospace industry, so the thing really worked.  Since it was an art installation, though, some who examined it thought it was a faux telescope and were delighted when they learned what it did.

IMG_0001It was an extreme event – hot, cold, dust storms, little sleep. You brought whatever you  needed, including food and water, nothing provided except porta-potties, ice, Black Rock Rangers (police, in skirts), coffee,  a medical tent, and extremely well-done organization. Everything else –  including a bicycle repair shop, post office (no stamps though), a radio station,  a newspaper, and a fantastical and immense array of art installations on the playa –  was organized by Burners at the event.

00005Burning Man by Jim UrquhartOn Saturday night the enormous wooden “Man” was set afire.

Aerial photo of Burning Man by Jim Urquhart. Others by Rick Kendrick.

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About Katherine Ziff

I live in Athens, Ohio where I am a clinical mental health counselor, writer, and exhibiting artist.
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2 Responses to art and science meet at Burning Man

  1. Susan urano says:

    My niece is at burning man! Love to hear more about your adventure sometime. It sure captures my imagination, but not the no sleeping part.

    • katherine ziff says:

      Susan, I found it extreme, just getting there was a challenge. The interesting part was the community that springs up with emphasis on self sufficiency and doing things for others in a “cool” sort of way. I will have to tell you the accidental art installation story of my flashlight-in-the-porta-potty.
      I hear it is more of a soundscape/dj/music festival these day.

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