EDUC 587

Week 10: Burning Man

Because the makerspace was delayed until this weekend and I have been absolutely swamped this week finishing an independent research project, I have not had a lot of time to think about what my contribution to our mini-Burning Man community will be. I thought I’d use this blog space a bit more informally than I have in previous weeks to think through resources that I have at home and what I can do with them.

Last week, seeing that the quarantine would likely last some time and frustrated by sharing my desktop computer, my boyfriend and I decided to build him a PC to use to create videos and other instructional resources for his kindergarteners (and also play games, if we ever have the time). So I am left with a lot of packaging materials—styrofoam, cardboard, plastics, and cable ties. Normally, I would find somewhere to recycle these materials, but since I’m shut up at home for the foreseeable future and my usually spots are closed right now (if you’re in the Oneonta area, the Otsego County Reuse Center can recycle clean white styrofoam!), they’re just kind of hanging around until I take them out as garbage. So it might be fun to “upcycle” those materials into something new.

I have to admit that I am a little skeptical of the concept of Burning Man, personally. While I do believe there are some incredible art installations done there and I believe folks have transformative experiences there, I can’t get past my preconceived notion of the whole thing being kind of a hedonistic venture for well-off folks who can afford to take a week off of work to “escape” from their hollow capitalistic existence… and then return right to being businessmen the day after. I have also read conflicting information about their actual ecological impact–yes a philosophy is to leave no trace at the playa, but that apparently leads to attendees just dumping everything on the nearby roads instead. Boy, I think the quarantine is making me more cynical!

I’m also reminded of the Burning Man episode of Malcolm in the Middle–highly recommend to anyone who wants to see a fun take on the event, though it is, I think, several seasons into the show and may not make sense to those unfamiliar with the characters.

So in thinking about what to create, I am having trouble working around that wall. I think now more than ever, however, what we all need is a bit of joy and whimsy in our lives. So my vision for my contribution to the makerspace this week, I hope, will be something that makes folks smile or laugh in some way. That’s about all of a direction I can think about at this point.

4 replies on “Week 10: Burning Man”

Cassie, I appreciate your honesty and perspective. This week has been overwhelming being at home. My house is packed and the internet is slow with both my parents, my sister, and her girlfriend all working from here. Such a strange time for us all.
It seems like you have some good materials to work with for your project. There’s a lot you can make from cardboard, especially if you have a sharp X-acto knife or box cutter. I think you can use your frustration with the festival as inspiration for your piece. What symbolizes capitalism, pollution, the well-off folks, and the irony of these elements coming together? I think it’s important to keep in mind that the piece can be burned at the end, noting that whatever your piece is is actually being destroyed at the end. The styrofoam, however, cannot be burned which may be interesting to use as a comment on waste and the false claim that the festival doesn’t leave anything behind. Good luck with your making! I’m sure inspiration will hit you and you’ll be able to run with it.

My boyfriend and I have been playing around with PC builds over the past few weeks to keep us busy as well! As with every build or upgrade, something always must go astray, long story short he was going insane in the house without gaming until a few days ago. I have to say, I came straight to your blog to see your project because your creativity is always inspiring! I am heartbroken to see that you’re overwhelmed right now. Please let me know how I can be of help, even if it is to just lend an ear. I found that once I got started with my project it was a good escape for a little while, and I’m hoping that will be the same for you!

Be well,

I really connected to your post this week. I also have my doubts about the whole thing. I think it is an amazing and beautiful experience but it is definitely for people who can afford to take a week in the desert to find themselves. It seems almost like running away from the real world, which we all do need at some point. I would love to experience it because maybe I am just not understanding so if I ever do ill let you know haha. This week has been so overwhelming hence why I am just posting on Sunday. ITs been hard to find that creativity and motivation to build a project, I totally understand. In your previous posts you have spoken to your coding and technological abilities so I have no doubt that you will put something amazing together. I mean you built a PC, What?! thats so cool. Take a deep breath and I hope you have a great week!
– Aimee

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