Big Art That Will Blow Your Mind at Burning Man 2014

Article by: Art Gimbel

Tue July 15, 2014 | 00:00 AM

Soon the desert will bloom with art. Like a lunar cactus that only flowers once a year, the Black Rock Desert will blossom with the weird, wild, and wonderful during Burning Man. Here are a few art projects we are excited to see, and you can contribute to their success.

The Embrace by the Pier Group

The Embrace   By The Pier Group

From the artists who imagined a sand-locked shipwreck comes an enormous Embrace  fit for those fleeting Playa moments that seem eternal.

“It’s planned to be a space where people can sit, reflect, look up, feel the wind through the sculpture, and think about life and love,” says Matt Schultz, the project’s lead artist.

The sculpture is a monument to relationships, both present and past. Schultz’s stepfather died unexpectedly in 2011, and the persistent feeling of absence inspired Schultz to reflect on the moments in relationships when people know they are loved.

Embrace is also meant to explore the idea of collective consciousness, the shared beliefs and ideas that unify a society. To this effect, each of the figures’ heads will be accessible by spiral staircase and will each hold about 20 people, who will have a view out to the other head, the event, and the expansive desert. This design feature is intended as a metaphor for shared experiences and viewpoints.

You can help.

The Temple of Grace by David Best 

Grace 400

One of the most renowned temple artists is no stranger to Burning Man. After the proposed Temple of Descendants got sidelined, David Best stepped up again. Known for his masterpieces The Temple of Juno, The Temple of Forgiveness and others, this prolific temple artist is very loved by Burners.

“The Temple of Grace is intended to be a spiritual and sacred space for memorials, reflection, celebration, and to commemorate life transitions. It is the latest in a long line of temples going back to 2000, which started the tradition of the temple built as a spiritual center for this art festival. It is a special work of art given to the community, and is a spiritual refuge where thousands gather, each to engage with it in his or her own way. The community comes to write their memorials and place tokens of their transitions, and it is burned at the end of the festival in a tradition of releasing them by the immolation of the temple."

Contribute here.

Paha'oha'o by Kahai Tate

The Volcano

Sacrifice yourself in a giant volcano slide. You are a virgin no more. And this fire god approves when you hurl your flesh into the fire.

“The Hawaiian translation of Paha'oha'o is transformation,” as described by Indiegogo. “Transform into something more beautiful or elevated. In Hawaii, eruptions are viewed as beneficial, as acts of creation, and Hawaiians often see their lives mirrored in the level of volcanic activity.”

Get involved.

The Celestial Mechanica by Jessica Welz

Celestial Mechanica2

In our minds it’s the Dark Crystal meets Playa in this universal installation. Celestial Mechanica  will allow its participants to travel to a whimsical world that is our own world. You have not seen our world in this way and you will be amazed. It is a kinetic mechanical representation of our own solar system. By just walking a few steps one can travel great expanses and explore this amazing place; you are the spaceship.


Pulse and Bloom by Shilo Shiv Suleman, Saba Ghole, and Rohan Dixit

Pulse And Bloom

Synchronize your heartbeat with up to 25 other burners with a mechanical reactive lotus flower garden.

Pulse and Bloom is an interactive art installation that visualizes the heartbeats of participants with the hope of syncing human heartbeats in a rhythmic pattern,” says the artists. “Composed of 25 mechanical lotuses arranged in a circular matrix shape with LED lights embedded inside each lotus, Pulse and Bloom is activated when individual participants physically interact with a lotus. Each lotus is equipped with a pulse sensor that, when pressed by a participant, translates their heartbeat into flashing LED lights within the lotus. As more people begin to interact with the different lotuses, visualizing their heartbeats in flashing lights, we will begin to see the effects of each person’s heartbeat on the other and the effect of meditative synchronicity unfold.”

Hayam Sun Temple by Josh Haywood

Temple Of The Sun

A sun temple for Burners and sun worshippers—sometimes the beauty is in the details.

As Josh describes it: “‘Hayam’: a filigree temple of light and shelter, a spiritual retreat resting lightly on the Playa, a tiny tessellated palace named for love and open to the sky, a miniature caravanserai to welcome the weary traveller.

The Hayam embodies the spirit of Islamic geometry: intricately interwoven patterns and repeating themes that speak of infinity. Geometry is the language of the universe; in the very small the infinite can be found.”

Hybycozo by Serge Beaulieu and Yelena Filipchuk 


Beautiful, golden, laser-cut 3D shapes will form in the desert sands of Burning Man. In the artists' words: "Much like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, these sculpture are meant to provide a map and a definitive set of instructions for interacting with a reality as subjective as plans to destroy the earth to build a hyperspace bypass may seem. We hope each Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone will amaze and inspire all beings that it comes into contact with it." We have a feeling they will.

Donate here. 

Coup de Foudre Musical Lightning by Matt Faulkner and David Brown

The Tesla Coil

Stuff we love: giant Tesla coils and lightning bolts you can dance under. Enough said.

Here’s how Matt Faulkner describes the work: “Coup de Foudre is a large-scale electrical art piece for Burning Man 2014. Drawing on recent Tesla coil innovations, Coup de Foudre will produce large (10 foot) arcs of lightning that can be modulated to produce sound and respond to music. An idiom for love at first sight that translates literally to bolt of lightning, Coup de Foudre seeks to evoke awe for beautiful and dangerous forces.”

Support this project.

The Vulvatron by the Clitterati

The Vulvatron is a mobile art piece designed by a group of female artists in San Francisco.

“The Vulvatron is an interactive, immersive environment that celebrates the female experience in us all. Through an immersive multi-media experience, the Vulvatron explores the feminine identity and acts as an advocate for feminist issues. The project’s form is inspired by the often politicized and stigmatized vulva. There are two 20’ tall projection screens in the shape of labia. Our video artists will project images on these that are evocative of the feminine - human forms, elements, abstract geometric shapes, and so on. In addition, people will be able to stimulate the lighting effects of the Clitoris by touching sensors located within the installation.”

Help make it happen.

For more incredible projects and ways to support them, check out the full list of 2014 Burning Man Honorarium Art Installations