Unlit Art Installation

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Unlit Art Installation

Postby powbob » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:59 am

Something actually made me mad at Burning Man this year, for the first time ever. I crashed into an art installation that was not lit. I was driving a 3-wheel bicycle, that was a crowd favorite both day and night, with multiple lights, including 6 black-light spots, a fiber-optic lamp, skulls, roses, vines, and a few blinkies for the wheels. The installation I ran into, consisted of a series of ground lights, very similar to the circle of lights that used to surround the Man in previous years. Within these small lights, there were about 4 or 5 man-hole sized lights, that stuck up about 10" to a foot, made out of metal, or something else quite rigid. Long story short, I was only able to pedal at moderately slow speeds, but apparently had enough inertia to completely smash into this man-hole protuberance, and roll completely over the top of it. In that process, my tire exploded, and the forks of my bike were bent backwards into the frame of the bicycle. I was enraged. It took me 2 hours to get back to camp to find some tools and parts to try and fix the bike where it crashed. Thanks to a close friend, it was accomplished. During those 2 hours, we both had to constantly warn other passers by as they blindly charged through this area oblivious to the danger. Many very close calls. Everyone thanked us as this occurred. I kept my eyes out for any type of authority figures, as I wanted to get the damn installation marked with some kind of light. Finally, I saw a non-art vehicle nearby, and ran to it, thinking it was a cop, but then I realized, they were the people who owned the installation, and were fiddling with their generator. I calmly asked them if this was theirs, and then asked very kindly why it wasn't lit up..?? "Out of gas" was the answer. I then began to tell them that I just wrecked my art-bicycle which I spent countless hours building, and that it was ruined, damaged beyond any type of Playa repair. One "kid" was sorry, the other launched into how it was my fault for running into it. Why wasn't I using a light. That was when I got mad. My bike has so many lights, and this ignoramous didn't even bother to ask about that. I reminded the idiot about the rules of the Playa, concerning any art installations, and told them to use their heads to think about it. I'm practically a professional cyclist, and I was able to withstand my collision with their art, especially since I was on a 3-wheeler. I asked these guys what would happen if a small girl happened to run into the manhole, surely at speeds faster than I was capable. Did they ever stop to think..??? So irresponsible...!! I was infuriated. But what could I do..?? At least one guy got the message, and I'm hoping he feels like shit, for my accident, and for his association with his ignorant partner. I wasn't going to let this ruin my Burn, although it ruined my art installation/transportation. JUST WANTED TO GET THAT OUT... mad at Burning Man, that's ridiculous.
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Postby Kinetic IV » Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:25 am

with multiple lights, including 6 black-light spots, a fiber-optic lamp, skulls, roses, vines, and a few blinkies for the wheels


A couple of things come to mind after reading your post. First, you make it clear your bike was lit up but did you have any light source on there projecting out in front of the bike like a headlight or a wearable LED headlamp? Side lamps and ambient lighting aren't that effective when riding along out beyond the temple exploring the art. You need something with a bit more candlepower.

Next, you found the artists and they were tending to the generator. I've seen many art pieces where it looks like the artists practiced: set it and forget it, not stopping to check on it until the burn's over. So kudos should go out to the artists for at least checking their installation.

So the bottom line is this is a split responsibility thing. The artists should have done more to keep the art lit, and you should consider doing more to light your path before smacking into things in the dark. Think about it before firing back a reply....radical self reliance is part of the playa experience....someone else's failure should not become your personal disaster. Control the experience...light your path and not just the bike itself.

(Petzl Tikka headlamps rock for accident prevention...I have 4 of them now and they're cheap too)
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Postby powbob » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:41 pm

Yes I had 2 forward blacklight spots on my bike that allowed for seeing distances of about 20 ft, and I was using a headlamp as well, but the problem was, the thing I hit and completely ran over was only 12" high, and being that low profile, I simply just missed seeing it in the darkness. So, now, yes, next year, I will make blinding headlights that will annoy and blind the hell out of anyone who comes my way, not really, but I do want to try to find a way to get some really bright spots that aren't just general blinding white light. I'm planning on running a solar panel next year, and that should give me lots more lighting capabilities. ...I did really notice a larger percentage of people and bikes laying around without lights, and I guess that is just part of the evolution of the event, and it is something I will certainly take into account for future designs... Beleive me, I definitely learned a tough lesson, I had borrowed the bike, before I did all my artwork and building to it. You are absolutely right about radical self-reliance out there, I think it is one of the main attractions for me, but I also hope that we can just do more to get everyone to light up their selves and their property that is out on the playa at night, cuz it is just far too dangerous not to. Appreciate your feedback my friend. Perhaps you might know of some type of good low watt lighting systems, I see you might be part of that Kinetic team with the Steam Engine..? I am going to be just starting out with using a solar panel, deep cell marine battery, converter, inverter...? any suggestions would be appreciated. LIGHTS ON FOR SAFETY...!!
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Postby gyre » Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:05 pm

Brinkmann has a three watt led headlamp at target.
Their 1 watt is at wmart. Best cheap one I've seen.
Only takes AAAs though. No dimmer.

Nitehawk has a true digital 3 watt and a bike version.
It can do battery changes hot.
Last I checked Petzl is not a digital.

There are some hid headlamps and bike lamps as well.
DC fluorescents are an option too.
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Postby chromatest » Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:32 pm

powbob wrote:Yes I had 2 forward blacklight spots on my bike that allowed for seeing distances of about 20 ft, and I was using a headlamp as well, but the problem was, the thing I hit and completely ran over was only 12" high, and being that low profile, I simply just missed seeing it in the darkness.


Well, what if it were two people laying there making out or just gazing at the stars? They would have been lower than 12" high (unless they were "going at it")... Your forward lighting is there to spot the little stuff... the big stuff is usually more obvious.

I had an art project and I had a set of lights on the outside. Somebody unhooked them (for privacy I think). Shit happens.

Sorry about your bike though. It sounds really cool. Got pictures?
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Postby Jordan 10-E » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:00 pm

Sorry your bike got ruined, but the guy that asked why you didn't have lights was right. If you have a hundred lights and still can't see something in front of you then there is a weak link somewhere. Maybe too much light in all the wrong places? Maybe you weren't watching where you were going?

I do agree that installations need to be lit, but it sounds like the artists were trying to remedy the situation and were doing what they could to fix it. Can't fault them for that.

Frankly it goes both ways. Riders/drivers and artists both need to do what they can, but other than that accidents happen.
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Postby diane o'thirst » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:05 am

Was this installation out between the Temple and the Cathedral? If so, I think I know what you crashed into. It's a set of lights that light up when people dance on the manhole-sized pods, which also light up when someone steps on them. Apparently nobody was dancing on them so they were unlit when you happened along.

I played around with them shortly before the Temple Burn and had a hoot 'n a half, but I can see where you're coming from. The artist would have done well to put a perimeter of lights around it so as to warn people they were about to career into his work, to save both them and their gear and to protect his time/effort/creativity investment.

Edit: Regarding spotlights...I got a set of three solar spotlights this year. They were originally going to be for my installation Hope Is At Hand, but that didn't get put up, so I used them for general purposes; lighting my shelter, headlamp for my bike. In the latter, they worked great and looked seriously cool. They're a little spendy for a bike light, $33, but they have interchangeable lenses so you can switch colours between green, white and amber. Plus, it's solar. The panel's about the size of a largish photograph. Sportsman's Guide has 'em and Dr. Leonard's has singles with rotatable panels for $14 (no colour lens change option). The cord's long on each spotlight, so wrap it up well and ziptie it to make sure it doesn't loop down and get in the way of your gears.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:38 pm

If you were in the City driving on the street and ran into a parked car would you be grousing that they didn't have neon lights everywhere?
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