Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pillars of the Saints: Burning Man Re-up, a plan for art installation

After completing #7 on my list of 1,000 things to do before I die by attending Burning Man last year as part of the Spirit Dream Interpretation Cafe, I simply have to add another item to my 1,000 things to do before I die. Return to Burning Man, and build an art project on the Playa.

So below are some plans for an art project to fit with this year's theme: Rites of Passage. The title of the project is Pillars of the Saints: Passage to the Voice of the Spirit.

At this point there are 5 team members interested in joining me to help make this project a reality, and here is a design of the project below.

The first shot shows the view of the project as it would be seen from Black Rock City as it might be viewed by someone coming across the playa toward the Pillars of the Saints.  The pillars and arches represent the passage from this visible existence into a spiritual realm, and so the design incorporates a full arch in the front slowly decaying to almost nothing as someone draws close to the altar of sacrifice.

At the altar of sacrifice a person will be directed to leave behind attitudes, struggles, or anything which they consider to stand in the way of hearing the Voice of Spirit.

At the altar of sacrifice these hindrances will be written down in such a manner as they will quickly disappear. Two ideas which are being considered are: 1) having the participant write the hindrance down on flash paper which will be thrown in the fire, or 2) having them paint the hindrance in water upon a blackboard which will evaporate and disappear in the desert heat.

The wall will be filled throughout the week with writings which are statements from those who have heard the Voice of the Spirit, and shared in writing upon the wall. After the sacrificing the one's hindrance the participant will be directed to pass through the doorway to the opposite side of the wall.

On the opposite side of the wall is a set of three pillars, which will each have their own ladder. Here the participant climbs the pillar, and like the famous St. Simeon Stylites from the 6th century who sat upon a pillar to get away from the crowds who thronged him, and sought the Voice of God, the participant will face the barren desert and wait for Voice of the Spirit to speak to them.
The basic idea of this project is to wait until the Spirit speaks, and like St Simeon and many of the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers of the 3rd through 6th century not come down until they have heard the voice, which then will be written with the growing number of words upon the walls.

The art installation will be designed with enough information and directions to be self service, and at times our team will be present dressed as monks in brown robes.

This is an unmediated, self directed meditation on the Voice of Spirit art project, and a dream for Burning Man 2011: Rites of Passage. 

Whadayathink? We like it.  Thanks to our gang and all the helpful voices surrounding us: Horizon, Rocket, Mary the Goth Theologian, Matt the Pirate, Hope, Dennis, and of course the thoughtful artist behind the scenes - Jeff Menasco who added some great artful thought to this design - which of course is still in the stages of being perfected.

Below are two different variations of the pillars which will be used for sitting on.  One is a steel design, and the other is all wood.  The wood design is modeled after the square altar of sacrifice, and if used (which is the preference at this point) will be burnt with the rest of the project at the end of the event.

Below is the location for the propane tank in the altar. Others will be se tin a similar manner inside the walls of beneath the flame bowls.  The walls are 4 feet thick at the bottom, and will fit a compartment with a 100# propane tank with a fire safe compartment. These will be doorless open compartments in the walls.


  1. You're crazy. Crazy awesome...

  2. Yo Rocket. I am sure craziness is one of your attributes as well. Maybe even a specific gifting. :-)

  3. How cool is THIS!!??? I like this Green Man.