Burning Man 2014 Art Car Yearbook

Article by: Eamon Armstrong|@EamonArmstrong

Wed September 17, 2014 | 00:00 AM

It’s night time at Burning Man and you are exploring the deep playa, that area beyond Black Rock City where the art pieces are sparse and strange. It’s quieter there and the stars of the Nevada sky shine brightly in contrast to the far away lazers and fire from the huge sound camps at the city’s periphery. Their powerful bass melts together into a deep muffled throbbing in the distance. With fewer bodies, structures and activities, it’s colder in the deep playa. You and your friends wear heavy fur coats and glowing EL-wire so you don’t disappear into the darkness as you walk towards the trash fence, Burning Man’s boundary and the end of its temporary world.

It’s dustier on the playa than in the city, and your view is periodically obscured by gusts of fine sand that cakes your hair and makes you look very old. It's during one of these moments of temporary blindness that you feel the presence of a glowing something heading your way from the distance. Out of the blend of sounds that reach out from the city a particular rhythm emerges and begins to swell. The threshold of sound is steeper than you expect and the specific melody becomes distinct as just at that moment the dust clears and you are able to see clearly the structure before you.

There it is: a mutant vehicle; an art car; a kinetic sculpture; a moving masterpiece; someone’s surreal imagining that took a group of mad scientists a year or more to devise and construct. It has arrived just in time, just for you. To be moved. To dance. To climb. To adventure. To maybe hitch a ride back home. It is full of strange people dancing or sharing a drink. As you stand there in wonder, the machine stops and invites you on board.

What Is a Mutant Vehicle?

An art car, or more accurately, a mutant vehicle can be anything its designers imagine within the liscencing criteria of the Department of Mutant Vehicles. Burning Man's DMV insists that mutant vehicles be radically and safely modified from a discernible street standard vehicle. There are dragons, pirate ships and mighty zeppelins. Some are massive sound stages capable of dominating everything around them. Others offer an unusual interactive experience for their riders, like giving standing ovations to the creative citizens of Black Rock City. Some vehicles are playa-famous and stunningly ostentatious. Others are simple little furry things that coast along the desert floor. Whatever the design, these motorized creations capture our imagination. 

What Cars Are We Missing?

Our goal is to catalogue all of the incredible mutant vehicles at Burning Man 2014. If you have an original image of a vehicle not captured above, please post it in the comments below and we will add it to our gallery. Out of respect for the people photographing the event, you must have permission or own the image you submit. Please include the photographer's name so that we can give proper attribution. Also, if you know the name of any of the "Unknown" cars, please let us know.