Burning Man Making The Listener

The Listener at Burning Man 2019

My last post explained some of the history behind our last artwork, The Listener. But it didn’t show off what it looked like out there.

While we have a lot of media and stories from the build, we wanted to get some images of what the art looked like out there.

The title image for this post is a solid representation of what it looked like on approach. It had a rainbow pattern inside the dome, and a shifting color pattern horizontally across the pedestals.

The centerpiece we covered with cloverleaf aluminum sheeting in a powder-coated brass finish. This gave a polished look but allowed the audio from the semi-quadraphonic sound system to pass through with some protection for the speakers and electronics hidden within.

This photo shows the art “at rest” or in an idle pattern waiting for participants to show up. In this state, it displays a sweeping rainbow pattern in the globe. Here’s a close up Live Photo of it:

Skylark Collective member, Miller, marveling at The Listener’s dome the first time we saw it.

To give the dome this effect, we cut out a large circular piece of plywood. We then mounted WS2812B LEDs to the top. Each of these LED strips had to be cut to the right size, then we soldered interconnects between each so they could be replaced if they failed.

This took a surprisingly long time. Here’s a photo of a tool I used to hold them in place while soldering:

The pedestals, (the four rectangles in the corners) have similar rainbow patterns of lights on five horizontal stripes. The mounting on those took a lot of labor because they had to be even and not mess up the upholstery.

Getting those working the first time was a big accomplishment also. We used the FastLED library and the WS2812B LED type to do this. Here’s a photo from when we first had them all animating in sequence:

Finally, to end this entry, here’s a photo of the art from when we had first cut and assembled the pedestals and had almost nothing else done. We set the art up in the yard to get a feel for what it would look like. What a transformation, huh?

There’s plenty more to share about The Listener, but here’s a first shot at finally showing it completely set up in Black Rock City at Burning Man 2019.


Happy Holidays

While decorating this year, I tried my hand at creating a Man head ornament made out of balsa wood and parchment paper. I used an x-acto knife, super glue and a mostly-steady hand.

The actual man design specifications are apparently not published. But the org did share a blog entry in 2008 focusing on the man head design, suggesting it is accented subtly from year to year.

Initially, I tried to measure photos of the man head to get a feel for the length of each side, but ultimately just improvised until I had something that looked about right.

The face lattice has five vertical lines and nine horizontal. Each crossing is notched on both sides, which meant 90 cuts not including a few mistakes. The project took about four hours.

A few friends suggested doing a large 3D one in the place of an angel at the top of the tree. Maybe next year!

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season.