It's about as exciting as watching people in silly robes fire up lights that you can barely see. I don't see why we can't do away with lamplighters - the technology to have solar-powered LEDs on the poles in cheap enough now...
I mean it's not like the lights are art, they're just infrastructure that's become institutionalized.
Box Burner wrote: I actually like the oil lamps as opposed to using LEDs. But it does seem to have become a bit of an institution. It would still be possible to get all the lamps lit without having a single camp dedicated to it.
TomServol wrote:If Lamplighters really ROCKED, they'd use gasoline in those lanterns.
I know some of the above was probably tongue-in-cheek and this isn't really the thread for it AND I'm way late to the party, but I'd like to submit that the art offered by the Lamplighters isn't the lanterns themselves so much as it is the lamplighting procession: we are the oldest continual performance art
on the playa (unless you count the burning of the Man of course).
Part of the reason I see the act of lamplighting as art is because
it's become an established, ingrained custom. Everybody wearing the same outfit, moving as a team, doing the work every evening, etc. all adds to the presentation. We insist on doing things the hard way with manual labor - them poles ain't light! - and kerosene rather than adopting the LED lights that at first might seem a better choice because we're striving to preserve the tradition. Our art is partially about continuity, from place to place, night to night, and year to year. We light without fail. Also there are practical reasons why kero remains a better choice than LED, but that's beside my point.
Also, the nightly processions are inherently participatory - we involve hundreds of "off the street" laborers
volunteer participants every year. For some of these burners, it's a real chance to be an active part of the art rather than a passive observer/consumer. First year burners, self-professed shy burners, burners who don't view themselves as particularly artistic, and those coming from a long way or with few resources have all expressed gratitude that they can be part of the art by volunteering with Lamplighters.
Yes, it's pretty cool to see those lit lanterns all in a row and I'm proud to know that I did a small part to lead lost burners back to the city or out to the temple. But I'm much, much more proud to have helped put a smile on a burner's face, or even tears of gratefulness, when they look back to see that same row of lights. Thank you
, I say, it was your hard work that lit the city - your city.
The solemnity and customs of the procession give the participants the sense of being a contributing part of something larger than themselves. tl;dr
I'm late to the discussion but maybe the Lamplighters' art is the procession, not the lanterns.Also we have a kick-ass bar that's open whenever it's not lamplighting time.
When he lights his streetlamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower.
When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep.
That is a beautiful occupation.
- Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry