howdy folks...a couple of pages here on my BMan experiences-
offered to any that are interested...
The first time coming onto the playa, at sunset with a warm wind blowing and the soft purple hills in the distance…It felt like coming home to something I had lost or forgotten. I remember feeling this way and thinking, ‘oh this is what it feels like when people say that…’
…was this a feeling of longing based on hopes and ideals, projected forward onto a festival which I had heard so much about over the years?
…or a premonition of what was to come later that week?
My experience that first week at Bman showed me that a fluid kind of social structure based on the celebration/ support of expression based activities was not only wonderful but a profoundly healing thing.
The collective art piece that is the BMAN city was immediately in my mind, a grounded reflection of peoples’ need for social architectures that truly put the experience of being social in the forefront of the design.
Everywhere you looked in the city was the sign of intention.
Intent to connect, share , exchange, celebrate, facilitate experience of the moment! Everywhere you went was some intentional art piece of sign or project created with the purpose of invoking a very real if not ephemeral moment of beingness dedicated to being present, alive, embodied and awake.
Every aspect of what I brought to this Autonomous Zone of Creativity and Celebration gave me an immediate feedback mirror.
Every action had its appropriate reaction, which, in the highly intentionalized environment of BMAN reverberated deeper than I could have ever expected.
All my actions, whether noble, selfish, altruistic, etc. were clearly met with immediate results far quicker than in the ‘normal’world.
It was clear that my quality of play was a direct reflection of how I played.
(paraphrasing James Carse-Infinite and Finite Games)
By the time of the festivals’ climactic moment (the burn), I had decided to steer my way directly into the center of the cities blueprint, realizing if this city was a collective manifestation of intent….i would place myself in what I perceived to be the intentional center.
That year the city was shaped like a parabolic mirror…with the figure of the man in the direct center of ‘the array’, pointed out to the wide open space of the desert. I took myself out away from the city directly on the 12 o’clock meridian of the cities top axis, placing myself between the collective intent of the 4 mile wide design and the openness of the desert.
When the man burned that night, I had the most profound experience of my life….transformative, exhilarating, rejuvenating and positively the most affirming regarding the nature/power of collective intent when made manifest in the actual structure of a social space.
The next year I was to launch a project called The Eternal Return, a large scale interactive installation performance based on the narrative of Rebirth.
If the figure central to the festival narrative, The Man, was to die at the center of this collective, intentionalized structure, why should we not celebrate a moment dedicated to the rebirth of this ‘collective hero-uber shaman’ now smoldering as a 30 ft. wide pit of ashes?
Where was the Phoenix, the Lotus to spring forth from the dry earth of the playa?
So, with 8 months preparation, I initiated a large scale project with which some 5o odd people built props, costumes, set pieces, a large mandala stage, a 360ft crop circle enscribed on the playa with natural ore, a mechanical lotus sculpture to sit in the center of the stage, complex choreography for dancers and performers, etc.
We placed ourselves as the ‘center attraction’ of ‘The Community Dance’ rave and gathered an audience of a couple thousand to witness the theatrics, fire spinning, dance performance and dozens of costumed characters enacting stories in spectacle style in front of the closed lotus sculpture, central to the narrative. The spectacle was to build up to a climactic finale when it was to open in a shower of light effects and sparks.
In short, it barely opened due to mechanical failures and the Narrative climax that night was to remain forever a mystery. Or so I thought!
In retrospect, much of the magic I had experienced the year before was lost to me this next year because I was so stuck in my head I could not be present to play and interact with the intention of all those around me.
I could not ‘cocreate’ with all the other visions and ideas and moments of beauty others had intentionally prepared for the desert as well.
It was a powerful lesson for me ……for that night was born my dedication to finding a science of celebration that equally supported both the boldness of personal vision with the mechanisms for collaborating with others.
My dedication to supporting a cocreative model based on the sharing of creative expression and personally determined VALUE……process based exploration, collaboratory process…not just more dogma product, material spiritualiasm, idealogical warfare, etc.
It is interesting to see how Bman steers clear of too narrowly defining what it is that they are actually hosting.
As I have dedicated myself now to the grounded manifestation of a model inspired from these experiences…..a model for everyone and everywhere, not chained to any environment or community, not for the artist elite or the cultural creative set…..i go to Bman now as a way to check in with what that collective is doing.
In many ways it appears to me that many folks that go try to recapture the magic of their first visit, rather that try to build on what they experienced…
The themes which the festival embraces each year seem more like costume dress codes than truly narrative structures upon which the city as an intentional whole can really participate with.
It is a criticism of this festival that there is a lack of creative structure in which people can truly collaborate and interact. Though, publicly, I do not offer criticism as such for it would do no good. Instead, I work toward providing narrative / creative tools with which I hope the citizens of Black Rock can use to enhance and enrich their experience.
This year, The Vault of Heaven has personal appeal to me as one of the central motifs of the narrative of my ‘cocreative methodology’ (SuperStar Avatar) is the STAR.
In truth, the first time I went I was rather skeptical of what I might find.
When I was arriving finally, the vista, the layout of the city itself existing completely in the vast nothingness….and then shortly after arriving….
I felt a sort of ‘permission’ hovering in the air and lingering over everything.
A permission which gave me the cue that ‘yes’ this is the space and the time in which you can open up….stretch your limitation, try new things…”
I felt the openness of the citizens immediately, felt the freedom that people gave themselves here, at Pilgrimages' End in Black Rock City 'Temple'.
It was exactly as if the city was a highly intentionalized gameboard upon which all participants were grand players in a movie of their own creation.
This, being an activity to which I had as an artist and event producer already spent a great deal of time pursuing in my life….
‘Celebration of the Ecstatic Moment’….the field of Popular Entertainment and interactive spectacle performance in which the act and action of every celebrant orchestrated to be felt by the others.
One successful aspect of BMAN which is clearly apparent after attending first time, is that second time attendants have learned ‘the rules’ of the gameboard, so to speak, and are eager to return in a way that enables play on a deeper level.
My story of returning a second year is mirrored by many that have gone repeat times.
Stories of epic work burnouts and community fall-outs have occurred by those that return so anxious to participate that they forget that much of the magic of this gameboard is found in the fleeting, ephemeral moments in which you share space with other players on the board, if for only fleeting moments,
with total strangers….touching something so unique and powerful, completely your own to share …
Perfect moments that pass and will never happen again.
Moments in which the Art of Being seems unquestionably to be the whole point of this Grand, Infinite Game of Celebration.
The City of Bman- this gameboard, shimmering into view like some conjured mirage for one week, a miracle to some, an intentional creation borne of months of sweaty labor to others.
Could it be that the goal of the Infinite Model of Collective Social Endeavouring is to generate direct experience/ stories of celebration, beauty and Novelty…without end?