Give the Gift of Asking: Navigating our Consent Culture

 by Captain Blood

consentlookConsent is an important discussion to have because we are generally a gifting, loving, sharing group. It is very easy to take that for granted without realizing when we do so. Generally when consent culture is discussed the focus is on sexuality, but it has a much larger scope.

So I thought I would throw out some scenarios that most of us have been probably guilty of at some point, and also potentially how to react when consent isn't given. Let’s start with the basics. Consent is about asking first. It is the participatory gift you can bring and give at any time or situation. It may not be the most heralded or recognized, but your receiver will either note it or learn from it. Knowledge and experience are the best gifts in my world.

Let’s be real, we all can work on our asking for consent. Who hasn’t just walked up and petted someone’s tail or plopped down at someone’s campfire? I know I have failed at times, but being consciously aware of it is what we are striving for. That awareness will help us develop a knee jerk "Ask First" reaction to situations.

Consent is given

Physical contact: This is the most often area that is touched on (I made a funny). Physical contact encompasses ALL touching: hugs, handshakes, kisses, groping, touching a tattoo, wig, fuzzy vest, light, etc. Any and all sexual contact, even mid-sexual encounter.

Conversations: Sharing our input and experiences is often very fluid at burns. But be conscious that in an intense conversation (or intimate one) that another person’s input may not be welcome.

Physical space: Some theme camps have all-day offerings of yummy things or fire pits or fun stuff and music. Others do not. When approaching a camp, confirm that you can have a drink, or share the fire, or have a seat or eat foods. Usually they will call you in, but theme camp people also want to do all the things and at times may have their camp unattended. Best to wait for an okay, or see if they have a sign. The same applies for anyone's physical space that is not deemed yours (or your camps.)

Others belongings/Art: Art is effing awesome. So much of it is interactive and meant to be touched, climbed on and tagged. Some is just meant to be visually appreciated. If you are unsure, ASK. Some art will have signs indicating its purpose. Please respect the time and resources invested to stimulate our imaginations and spirits. This applies to open camping, people, chairs, kitchens, all the things. Never assume it's okay. Get consent.

Photography: Not everyone wants the interwebs to see them in their awesome striplaya outfit. They chose it for themselves - not you. Ask before shooting pictures of people. When shooting pictures of camps, art, fire, etc, make sure either no one else is in the frame, or make anyone near aware you would like to take a pic of this super cool thing. If they wish not to be included, give them the opportunity to do so. When posting pictures, make sure you have gotten permission prior to posting any recognizable faces or bodies. If you are unsure, or want to give them a copy but forgot their name, reach out to Mosaic leads, one of us will be able to help you find them.

sad unicornThey said NO. Now what? Rejection sux, but we need to not take it as a personal slight. We have no idea why in that moment that action isn't okay. I have come up with a useless acronym for dealing with a NO: A.R.F. Acknowledge: We need to acknowledge we heard them. Either a “thank you for letting me know” or “have a good day” or “okay”, but just let the person know you heard them and respond with assent. DO NOT ask why. Just accept that is where they are in that moment. React: Now that they have declined your request, it’s time to react in a comfortable manner. If your long lost burner buddy doesn’t want a hug, continue the flow of the greeting, do not make it weird. Just verbally show your happiness at encountering them. If a camp has said they are not currently serving from their bar, ask when maybe you can return and move on. Follow Up: Especially when you have a pre-existing relationship with the individual, it’s good to do some follow up. Just check in and see if there was another way you could have approached them. It gives them the opportunity as well to communicate about the moment, or maybe they need to decompress about some issue. In the instance of a camp, it’s nice to go back, find out when is a good time to participate and thank them for giving when they can. Follow up can also be a time for apologizing for overstepping boundaries.

"But I know Sparkle Pony, and they always have been okay with ______, why do I have to ask now?" Have they given you blanket consent, meaning yes all the time? Even if they have, I have a large group of friends I’m close with and we all hug, kiss, pet and grope each other. We do not ask anymore BUT at anytime I am ready for someone to change that dynamic. Even for a minute or forever. I will accept that boundary and love them in a manner that honors them.

unicorn_coexistIn a nut shell, the topic of consent is growing in visibility in our community. Many feel it should become the 11th principle of Burning Man and all communities who follow the principles. In order to grow, adapt, and share our philosophy, we need to come together and install the principle of consent in all we do. Only this way will we be able to sustain as a community and educate those who desire to call our community home.

rangermeCaptain Blood, new Gate co-lead for Mosaic, lives in Chicago and is the founder of Camp Cloud City. Captain Blood has been an avid volunteer at Lakes of Fire, local burn events, local art and childrens events, and spent 7 months in Thailand involved in post disaster relief. She is passionate about the importance of regional burns and their diversity in the changing landscape of our developing society. She is also a feeder (Hungry? Go see Captain Blood), active within the Chicago burner community, a Ranger and generally open to dispensing long, sweet hugs. She also makes a mean cocktail and bakes wicked good cake.

Temple of Unobtainable Expectations: An Interview with Kristal Light

Our community has known Kristal Light for a long time. She exemplifies the Burning Man 10 Principles through the artistic gifting nature of her personal lifestyle, and over the years she's volunteered to work First Aid at more regional Burning Man events than we can keep track of. If you've been to a Midwestern or Southern regional Burning Man event in the past 10 years, chances are good you've met her! She also became one of Kentucky's first official Burning Man Regional Contacts, and was one of the founders of Reclaimation, Kentucky's first official regional burn.

Currently living in Lexington, Kentucky, Kristal received a Large Art Grant to bring her vision for The Temple of Unobtainable Expectations to life. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, and sent us a few pictures of the work in progress (but nothing too specific, she's not going to spoil the secret!)

How did you first get involved in all this Burning Man business?

My first burn was Transformus in 2005, but I heard of Burning Man years prior from an article published in Wired back in 1996. I moved from my birthplace of Louisville, Kentucky to San Francisco in 1998 and attended some fundraiser parties for Burning Man, thought hadn't yet made it out to the actual event. It took finding community in the woods (at Transformus) to inspire my first journey to the desert. My first actual Burning Man was in 2008, and like with so many others, it radically changed my life. Finding others who are inspired by large art, blank canvases, and vision, I started to make big art of my own for regional burns, not to mention participating in Burning Man's first historic C.O.R.E. (Circle of Regional Effigies) project in 2011. The project was called the F-N Bourbon Barrel and was a 16ft tall by 16ft wide Bourbon Barrel that housed 350 individual art pieces from people here in Kentucky and some native kids in Canada.

Would you mind telling us a little about your project for Mosaic Experiment?

I'm building a temple for Mosaic called The Temple of Unobtainable Expectations. The vision for this art piece came to me while doing 108 days of mantra meditation earlier this year. I wanted a way to help myself and others to let go of the expectations of others so that we can be free to feel more joy and love.

I was inspired by my meditation , my job and my life to make this project. I wanted to use recycled materials from my workplace in a way that dresses them up from their original use. I also wanted to show the art that anyone can make if you make the time to do it.

Our families and friends think they are helping us when they tell us we will be judged by others around us. Sometimes, we are filled with these expectations by friends who want us to do more and more for them. It's when we realize our truths and let go of these expectations holding us back that we can be free to be whatever we choose to be.

The art is very personal for me as I work through the thoughts and ideas that have held me back over the years. I just hope this project helps others to know even well-meaning expectations can be harmful to the psyche and transmutation is the way of freedom.

I look forward to seeing the reactions of others as they interact with the piece and hope we are all healed as this burns at dawn Sunday morning.

This sounds like a profoundly deep project for you. May we ask how much time you've spent on it so far?

Wow.....good question there.....I started with the vision in February this year (2015) and started the work in March. I knew I wanted to bring this piece to Mosaic all along and I'm grateful that I'm getting closer to making my vision a reality.

Are you collaborating with anyone on this you'd like to mention, or working primarily alone?

I've been working on this piece alone, for the most part. I did consult two friends on the building/spiritual parts of the piece, but this has been a single person build all along. The Sacred Grove camp has taken me in as a member this year and have offered to keep sacred space around the piece when I need a break.

Have you run into any unexpected obstacles while building / designing this Temple or has everything been going to plan?

My main challenge has been making sure I collected all the recycled materials to make the project. Luckily, I have done that, and now my only challenge will be muscle help on site to help me lift pieces while I put it together/break it apart.....want to help out? I'd love volunteers.

Would you mind sharing any advice or wisdom to other participants considering a major project like this for a future Mosaic Experiment?

Dream big! Don't be afraid to try something out of your league. It's just a new thing you've not tried yet. Don't give up on yourself or your art. Anything is possible when you have dreams!

One last question: Mosaic's theme for 2015 is "Defying Gravity." How does your Temple defy gravity?

I've decided to look at the world differently than before, and part of doing that is baring my soul for all to see. This project is a sort of therapy for myself dealing with loss, depression, and abuse. As you walk into the project, you'll see several phrases in negative tones. Those words are from the heart and I cried as I let the pain come through me and be placed into the wood for you all to see. Likewise, I have positive phrases inside the heart of the piece to show the healing that has taken place in my life so that it helps others to not suffer as much. We have so much in common and yet we forget that we all hurt, cry, bleed the same. Life is a terminal illness. It's time we fly beyond our faults and embrace our beauty in those differences. Letting go is the hardest part. Dream big and believe in yourself.....that's how true miracles happen.

I hope this temple helps someone not feel alone, ashamed or afraid of those dark things inside. I hope this temple is the vision of beauty I've seen in my meditations. I hope this temple helps heal others as I know it will help heal me.

Remember, this isn't magic, this is your life. Your game, your rules. You can change those rules you've set for yourself if they hold you back from your highest potential. Don't give up on yourself. Don't stop believing. Never stop dreaming.

Thank you, Kristal, for sharing your vision and gifting of yourself with an art piece we can all participate in. The Temple will burn on Sunday morning, October 4, 2015. We look forward to sharing this experience together.

Are you ready for Mosaic Experiment and all the beauty and creativity you'll experience? Be sure to come prepared so you can fully enjoy it! Check out our Weather Preparedness & Self Reliance post, and of course, don't forget to read the Survival Guide.

MOTHERSHIP LOVE: The Story of our Effigy

MothershipInterview"Mothership Love" is Mosaic Experiment's official effigy for 2015, selected by our Art Grants Committee because its design so perfectly fits this year's theme "Defying Gravity." Thaddeus "Osito" Micelli

This week we've been fortunate to get a few moments with Osito (Thaddeus Micelli), project manager/coordinator of the effigy team, to discuss the inspiration and efforts involved in making this artistic dream become reality. The effigy team is hard at work designing and prototyping what will soon be the final centerpiece we set fire to Saturday evening during Mosaic.

Where you living these days, Osito? Osito: Ypsilanti, Michigan

When was the first burn you ever attended? My first burn was Lakes of Fire 2013: Superstition. My wife Kyrie and I found out about the burner community from a friend who had gone the previous year to Lakes of Fire.


Tell us a little bit about your effigy project, Mothership Love: Mothership Love is a kinetic art piece that gives a peek into the wonder of space and the universe, and offers to teleport you away. We want to truly defy gravity and show the rotation of the planets. For years, we at Mothership Love have sent out a signal into the night sky, across all frequencies, and through all known languages, and we have finally heard back. For the first time, we bring visitors from another world to our planet’s humble surface.

What inspired you to build it? For me this piece comes from a yearning to continue creating art within this culture. It is very much a culmination of the past three years of my life and this adventure being a 'burner'.  After the Tree of Life, my wife and I started small with our first theme camp (Treasure Island), evolved into our first art grant/project (Snatch-n-Balls) and escalated to creating the effigy for Mosaic. This community continues to show what is truly possible when the right energy is put into this reality. I only wish to continue this tradition and inspire the next person to shoot for the stars.

How much time have you put into creating the effigy so far? It's really hard to put an exact amount of time. It all sort of starts to blend together. A number of hours have been spent just in group conversation discussing schematics, issues, organizing events, etc. Every weekend since we were granted the effigy has been spent at one of our build sites and will continue throughout the month of September.

Fundraising, although easy enough to set up online, takes a lot of time and energy to properly hype/advertise online. Big kudos to the Mosaic leads and volunteers that spend countless hours making sure we all know what's going on!


So we know you're not doing this all by yourself.  Who are you collaborating with and what are their roles? None of this would be possible without the help from my core team:

Aiyami (Spidermonkey): Skilled chemist by trade and Fire Lead for our effigy. Excellent knowledge of creating and burning stuff. Methodical burn designs will ensure this is one effigy you will not want to miss. One half of our mad creation team!

David Yates (Total Neglect): Design lead and engineering specialist. Brings years of experience with woodworking and fires. I'm 100% sure that this man could make anything work with enough time and tools. The other half of our mad creation team.

Kyrie Micelli (BrattyCakes): The yin to my yang. Community event organizer and overall human networker. A lot of our presence online and our fundraising event at Necto is due to Kyrie's help along with helping keep me organized and on track. Cannot thank her enough.

Although our core team is small we have been lucky to have others come to our assistance. Necto nightclub in Ann Arbor has been generous enough to offer their downstairs area (the Red Room) for our local fundraiser along with some excellent local talent. Mixtape, one of our DJs for the fundraiser, has also greatly contributed to Mosaic with his image designs and other media that will be released related to the event.

Also, our friend Jon: Our build site would not be possible if not for his generosity (and overall curiosity) of the Mothership Love effigy. The tools and space available have greatly helped in the completion/burning of the scale project and translating that to the main burn. I also have enjoyed an amazing meal or two at their place and I'm humbled by their generosity.

What kind of roadblocks and challenges have you run into so far? One of our biggest challenges is making sure that our burn effects work as we have initially planned. So far, we have successfully recreated this in the scale model and look forward to hammering out the rest. If you're coming to our Mothership Love-raiser, you'll get to see what we mean!

Scale panel (David Kyrie)Other challenges have been organizing people/time to make the builds happen, sourcing parts for the build at a reasonable price, keeping the community engaged and participating and making connects with people who can assist us with some of our harder components. We have been lucky enough to make all of these happen with a little luck and a good amount of hard work. Again, none of this would be possible without the help from the community.

Any words of advice for artists wanting to make their own project for a future Mosaic Experiment? I would definitely not take on such a large project unless you've worked on some other small ones first. The experience our crew gained on our first group project (Tree of Life, Lakes of Fire 2013) and our own personal projects since then have given us the building blocks to base our build and timeline on. It doesn't hurt to know how to use a power tool either.

Be ready to make changes. Things come up. Stuff doesn't fit or pan out. You're going to make a few revisions to your design before it gets burned. The board game Monopoly was revised over forty times before it was up to snuff. It's not a bad thing. It's just evolution. Roll with it.

Have fun! There's a lot of hard work involved in making your dreams a reality but above all make sure you and your team are enjoying what they're doing.

Got a link to your project you want us to send people to? Maybe the fundraiser page? Yup! Mothership Love Indiegogo Page

THAT'S IT, FOLKS! Osito had to go back to work!

For those wanting to help gift this project in either physical or financial ways, we highly recommend you attend the Mothership Love-Raiser this weekend:

MOTHERSHIP LOVE-RAISER Saturday, August 29, 2015 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Necto Nightclub (Red Room) Ann Arbor, Michigan

$10 gets you in the door, and you can meet the Osito and his project team in the flesh, discuss the project, offer to pitch in however you'd like, or just hang out, dance, and have a good time with burner friends supporting a project of burnerly love! Of course, if you can't make it to that, you can always donate your cover (or more!) to to the Mothership Love Indiegogo Page

Bureau of Unclaimed Secrets

Havoc and Chris Miller, Mosaic 2014. Photo by Michael Dobson. Name/Burner Name Havoc

Where are you living currently? Indianapolis

When was your first burn? How did you find out about burns? Burning Man 2010 was my first burn. I first heard about Burning Man in 2003, but it took me seven years to get my shit together.

The keeper of secrets

Project Name and Description: My project is the Bureau of Unclaimed Secrets, an interactive secret exchange.

The Bureau of Unclaimed Secrets is an opportunity to explore and evolve thoughts and feelings. Part therapy, part interactive art, this installation allows participants to record and share their secrets. Participants are encouraged to write down their secrets on 3x5 cards (provided). The secrets are then filed for safekeeping with the Bureau, and the participant given a matching numbered tag, allowing the bearer to come back and access, change or destroy that secret. Participants are encouraged to gift tags to others and to come back throughout the burn to check on the evolution of their secret.


The Bureau of Unclaimed Secrets is highly interactive and often cathartic for participants. I love that the secrets evolve over time and that people can be deliberate and potentially strategic about who gets their secret.

Inspiration: I was highly inspired by the piece "Terrain" by Julianne Swartz. ("Terrain" is a site-specific sound installation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art that evokes secrets, whispers, and memories. The murmuring voices are largely indiscernible; however, in certain moments private intimacies can be distinguished, such as the words “I love you.”) The quiet, contemplative nature of the piece got me thinking about secrets and how we share them.

secrets2Time spent on project: For this incarnation, probably 20 hours of prep work, 40 hours during the event and 10 hours after the event matching people up to their unclaimed secrets.

Collaborators? Helpers/Assistant Builders? My fiancee, Chris Miller, was a huge help!

Challenges during the project: It's always a challenge to figure out the logistics of something like a secret exchange. Figuring out the mechanism by which people could give away a secret and let someone come back and claim it was a bit of a challenge, but once the idea of tokens came to me, it was just a matter of getting the materials and setting it all up.

“This was by far my favorite experience at Mosaic. There's just something so incredibly profound and freeing about this. Thank you both again for bringing this to us.”

Do you have a link to where people can learn more about your art?

Any words of advice for future art projects at Mosaic Experiment? Make a budget, make a timeline/plan, have at least one person who knows the project and can help you out in a pinch.


Start creating your own experience for Mosaic Experiment 2015. Check out Art Grants and Effigy, and sign up for our mailing list: [wysija_form id="1"]

Cake or Death?

Name/Burner Name: Dominic Barbato and Emily Gosnell Emily (left) and Dominic at Mosaic Experiment

Where are you living currently? Ann Arbor, MI and Baltimore, MD

When was your first burn? How did you find out about burns? Em and I actually went to our first burn together back in 2011 when we finally made it to Burning Man. I had found out about burning several years prior to that (it took me 8 years from discovering Burning Man to actually making it to the desert). At one point during college I was reading "This is Burning Man" by Doherty, and it came to a point in the book where they were describing an artist attempting to build a full-scale model of the game "Mousetrap" complete with a piano dropping off of a crane at the end of the Rube Goldberg-esque contraption. It never worked..... so they spent their time dropping pianos from cranes...

It was at that point I thought: "Wow, there is a place in the world where someone would let me build an elaborate contraption to drop a piano from a crane..... and then would be completely fine with it failing?"

It was only a matter of time.....

Project name and description: We did an interactive game called "Cake or Death". Emily carried around an open platter of cake and Dom (dressed as Death) had a closed container.

When a participant chooses Cake, they got themselves a tasty treat and went on their way. Those who were brave enough (or foolish enough depending on your disposition) to choose Death were given a Death Tarot Card that said the following:

"The receipt of this card signifies that the bearer has experienced a symbolic death. Think of all the regrets you carry with you each day, the painful memories you try and hide, and the worries you may have about the future. As you have symbolically died today, take this as an opportunity to feel reborn and live the rest of your time here as if all of those regrets and worries have been lifted from you.

Your Rebirth begins the moment you hand this card to another person."

The goal was to give people a positive mindset for their time at the burn while simultaneously setting the stage for future gifting (since the last line asks you to pass it on).

Death card. Photo by A

What was your inspiration? Well, Eddie Izzard (a British comedian we are both fans of) does a bit called "Cake or Death". The gist being that the Church of England can not do fire and brimstone very well (thus the ridiculous cake or death choice). Obviously, our project does not have anything to do with that other than the name.

We originally did the piece for another regional (Transformus in North Carolina) where our camp was running a tea house. We needed snacks to go with tea and cake was an obvious choice... the Cake or Death set-up flowed from that because we thought it would be funny.

As for the Death Tarot, Dom was the primary writer of that. His explanation: "I was going through a major bout of depression in the spring of 2014, and it was really rough. I had a thought during it that what would really help me out was just someone (even a stranger) giving me an excuse to drop my baggage and go about my day without it burdening me. The writing on the Tarot Card was my attempt at that."

Time spent on project? About a month. The hardest part was getting the costumes, that and laminating and printing all of the Tarot Cards. The writing on the back went through a few drafts as well.

Did you collaborate with anyone else? All of the awesome members of the Bliss Junkies Union: Olga, Chelsea, Dave, and Morgan

Challenges during the project: We actually did not start out planning on laminating the cards.... but through a mistake at the printer, they were on much thinner paper than we were initially thinking of using. We were worried they would easily become MOOP or would disintegrate in bad weather. Emily had the idea of laminating them and we are really glad we did.

death cardWe also went through a few different arrangements when it came to the "performance" At first the Tarot Cards were visible, which made people choose them exclusively without thinking. Then we tried having Dom hide them in his cloak and not present anything. This created a problem because people would often not realize "Death" was an actual valid choice and would think we were just jokingly pointing to Dom wearing a costume. It seems hard to believe, but it took a few trial runs for us to realize the most effective thing would be for us both to have plates with gifts... but only one visible.

Having done this twice we can say with certainty: People at Mosaic were much more willing to choose Death over Cake compared to people at Transformus.

Any words of advice for future projects at Mosaic Experiment? Just prepare for sudden changes in weather and you should be fine. Mosaic is such a fun place to do a project because it is such an intimate setting, so you can really experiment and be creative without having to worry about working out the kinks in your project with thousands of people present.

That is about it..... we never really considered ourselves artists..... just bliss junkies who like provoking responses from people :).

Mosaic Experiment 2015: How will YOU participate?

Get notified! Sign up for Mosaic news including ticketing, art grant info, and more:[wysija_form id="1"]

Jimithy & the Bipolar Dragons camp

Photo by Sarina Reneigh (Gypsie Girl) Name/Burner Name: Jimithy (Jimithy) McMahon

Theme Camp Name: Bipolar Dragons

Where do you currently live? I live on the Greenbrier river in Alderson, West Virginia.

How many years have you been burning? What was your first burn? Mosaic Experiment was my first burn.

photo by Jimithy McMahon

Theme Camp Description: The "Bipolar Dragons" camp is about living with the twin dragons of depression and mania. I created a yin and yang design of dragons to create a wide variety of Batik t-shirts that were given away throughout the burn. Batiks were also created by request. The overall camp design was a stockade. It symbolized the barriers that those with severe mental illness must create in order to feel safe in society.

Theme Camp Inspiration: I discovered the Mosaic Experience a month before the burn took place. I'm an artist who is afraid of society as a whole because of my mental illness. I've never been to a burn (or known anyone who had) but I hoped that the principle of "Radical Inclusion" would give me the courage to be a real member of burner society. This would be a wonderful gift to me. I took some time figuring out what I could give to the burn. I decided that truly exposing my lifetime with this illness (and my experiences with family members both with and without this illness) could be a gift. I came up with using Batik art to help tell the story. Unfortunately framed Batiks are restricted to someone's wall. Distinctive t-shirts each with unique artwork would have a much wider audience. I also thought it was fortuitous that they'd have someone with inside knowledge about the illness.

What was your favorite moment from Mosaic 2014? Dancing wildly in a field, while people had fun with karaoke.

What advice can you offer new theme camp organizers? Get some experience as a burner before attempting it. (I think this advice would be obvious to most people.)

Jimithy at home with his dog, Teddy.

Any burny plans for 2015? I plan to bring Batiks to distribute that are based upon the dragons in the life of someone who has bipolar disorder. A special addition for 2015 will be a tall metal sculpture of a weeping willow. The central tree canopy sways fluidly. The lower 10' of each limb is covered in flames (they are vertical vapor burners). The limbs swing independently of each other and the tree canopy. There are no wires, motors, electronics, etc. Everything comes from the momentum of the sculpture. The simplicity of the tree makes the movements captivating. The tree has surprisingly chaotic behaviors while still being structurally strong and stable. It represents the chaotic environments the severely mentally ill and those close to them must live in. At this time I'm making a structural model to help me visualize all of the movements. Next, I'll make a scaled down version of the sculpture in order to work out any gotchas with the flame burners. Then I'll create the full sized tree. I guess this seems like a lot to tackle but my life is all about extremes.

Visit Jimithy's Bipolar Dragons Facebook page at to check out his latest endeavors.

Joel Lam's "Hive-Mined = Memories"

Joel Lam at Burning Man 2014 Name/Burner Name: Joel Lam (Boss)

Current city: Cincinnati, OH

Theme camp/burner group name and description: Camp One (because I camped alone since my friends missed getting tickets before Mosaic sold out)

Art piece name and description:

  • Piece #1: "Hive-Mined = Memories" A hive is nothing but a collection of cells. A mind is nothing but a collection of memories. This piece consists of 104 custom-made cells. Each cell contains an experience or feeling. You’re challenged to remember the last time (or first time) you experienced or felt it. Where were you? What was going on at that time? 

    Hive-Mined = Memories

    Hive-Mined = Memories (at night)

  • Piece #2: "Hive-Mined = Teamwork" The treasure inside is great, but the real treasure is the journey to unlock it. This chest is locked with a number combo. Work with others to solve the clues and gather information from Theme Camps in order to unlock the treasure. This piece is meant to encourage socializing and give you an excuse to speak to strangers. 

    Hive-Mined = Teamwork

  • Piece #3 (not installed due to weather): "Hive-Mined = Teambuilding" One bee can’t build a hive. Two bees can’t build a hive. Only a team of bees can build a hive. This is a monument to teambuilding. The sphere on top represents a hive, the ultimate goal for any team. Each model represents an aspect of a good team (e.g. Trust, Cooperation). Hidden teammates under the platform represent the necessary hard work that goes unseen. Together, the team builds the tower that reaches their goal.

Hive-Mined = Teambuilding

Inspiration for art:

  • "Hive-Mined = Memories" --> Circles with Candles: Friends and I were at a bar and I complained about lacking inspiration. Then magically a clip of John Travolta at the Academy Awards (mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name) came on the TVs. I noticed the background behind Travolta and it was beautiful. I knew exactly what I wanted after that.
  • "Hive-Mined = Teamwork"--> Treasure Chest: My friend saw an amazing art installation on the playa this year. He told me all about a cabinet that required simple riddles/puzzles to unlock it. He was really floored by it. I never found that installation but liked the idea and tried to add a socializing aspect. Thanks to the theme camps who contributed fun facts.
  • "Hive-Mined = Teambuilding" --> Tower: I worried no one would visit the other pieces so designed something tall to attract attention. It’d be a beacon for my little art area. The Burn decided it wasn’t needed, but I enjoyed building it nonetheless.

Time spent on making art: Circles with Candles = 25 hours. Treasure Chest = 5 hours. Mosaic Muses inside Treasure Chest = 2 hours. Tower = 5 hours.

Helpers/assistant builders: Kenneth Areas helped me with dry-runs at home to assemble and disassemble. Kat Pope and Colin Smith helped me assemble Piece #1 at Mosaic.

Challenges during the build: Challenge #1 = Being ok with displaying my art / overcoming my fear that everyone would ignore, dislike, or not understand it. Challenge #2 = Weather. Building something that can withstand the wind, morning dew, and rain. And hail! Challenge #3 = Logistics to transport and safely disassemble/reassemble at Mosaic.

What skills did you learn that will help you with your next art piece: How to cut PVC pipe, how to use zip ties instead of rope or wire, and how to walk away from my art / not hover so I’m there to explain it.

How many years have you been burning? When did you first start burning? 5 months. I started May 2014.

Where was your first burn and what was it like? Who told you about it? Scorched Nuts 2014 was my first burn. I found it online and went to meet people / get advice before going to Burning Man. It was amazing.

How did you find out about mosaic? What did you think of it? Kat Pope and Britt Marie B told me about Mosaic. I thought it was great. Everything came together really well. The effigy burn was fantastic.

What art projects are you currently working on? Repurposing the tower into a cat tree, building a throne that hopefully fits the theme for Scorched Nuts 2015, and incorporating a waterfall into my next art pieces.

What projects do you hope to do in the future? I hope to someday organize a lamplighter ceremony at a regional burn, build the Temple at a regional burn, and maybe even create an art car / mutant vehicle.

Do you have a link to where people can learn more about your art? No, but maybe I’ll create a link someday.

Closing Remarks: Thank you to the entire Mosaic team. Your hard work was a great success and it’s very much appreciated. Thanks to the burner community for welcoming an enthusiastic newbie. I encourage everyone to volunteer at their next burn. It makes the experience even better!


Grumpy Face's Hippie Heater

Matt Kreuzwieser (Grumpy Face)Name/burner name:  Matt Kreuzwieser (Grumpy Face) Hometown:  Ann Arbor Michigan

When did you first start burning? How did you get into this whole regional scene?: I had a long time interest in BM going back to first hearing about it early 90's in the Utne Reader, then life happened and I just didn't get there. Met a guy who camps with Syncytium, met the gang, went to LoF and then BM my first year. Haven't looked back.

What was your Mosaic 2014 theme camp / burner group name and description:  Syncytium: A biological term that means single cell with multiple nuclei. Open theme camp of 50-85 regulars based in the Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Chicago areas that focuses on creativity and chaos. Mashup of engineers, bartenders, DJs, sculptors, fire performers, and good folks that come together to create a carnival of creativity.

Mosaic 2014's art piece name and description: Hippie Heater, a low pressure flame effect designed to keep burners warm on those cool October Ohio nights. 10’ long metal pipe bent into a curve pattern with horizontal slits cut into the top. Pipe was capped at one end and propane fittings attached to the other. Propane fills the tube and escapes through the slits in the top where it is lit on fire.

Inspiration for art: Ohio law restricts high pressure flame effects so he wanted to make a low pressure effect to show that low pressure propane can still be exciting, artistic, and functional.

Time spent on making it:  About 3 hours

Helpers/assistant builders: None were needed

Challenges during the build: Minimal challenges, has a good background with flame effects and a community of fire artists that he has learned from.

What skills did you learn that will help you with your next art piece: Used a pipe roller for the first time to create a bend in the 10’ long metal pipe. Might use this technique to create a more intricate low pressure flame effect.

Closing Remarks: If you want to learn how to build a flame effect he recommends the DaveX workshops and to lean hard on the other members of the burning man community to help understand the dangers and demystify propane flame effects.

Grumpy Face's Hippie Heater

What is a Sparkle Pony?

Sparkle PonyEver heard the term? It's a fairly popular meme in burner culture. Urban Dictionary defines it as "A high maintenance person at the Burning Man Festival who is unprepared for the harsh camping environment and becomes a burden to their campmates." That might be fine for a Black Rock City definition, but can that also apply to Mosaic Experiment? If so, how do we acculturate such a person into being better prepared and more participatory? How does a person become a "Sparkle Pony" to begin with? We asked our Facebook Community what a Mosaic Sparkle Pony would be, asked for suggestions to minimize their presence, or best practices to teach those who are already on site. Here are some of our favorite responses:

"To me it means anyone who believes in "the burn will provide" and/or is not radically self-reliant. I will always help when I can no matter if the person is sparkling like Edward Cullen in the sun or not. Everyone needs help some days... and next year, it might be you that left all your water at home."

"Sparkle Ponies are people that take all the radical self-reliance they're not doing and put it into radical self-expression. Because looking good is more important than not getting dehydrated."

"I've never heard of it in the context of burns. In previous experiences it meant someone high on their horse out of place. In the context of this, I take it to mean someone unprepared for camping/living for 4 days. I would render them aid as best I can without causing myself/my camp to also need aid."

"I had not heard the term, but as to unprepared people I'd help them to the best of my abilities without harming my own camp/family..."

"Sparkle ponies also leave ungodly amounts of inconceivably wrong and destructive moop, and have no concept of the amount of work that goes into cleaning up, let alone the build, prep, and maintenance of these crazy things we call home."

"Sparkle pony has become the hipster of Burning. Often times used beyond the intended context to express derision towards an 'other'."

"There's always more to go around than what any one person could need, so it seems to even out in my experiences. Sparkle Ponies seem to come away from it better off and better learned. I find it's more often out of ignorance or just poor planning skills (planning is tough, I'm serious), so I don't hate."

"Although the word dates back to at least 2008, it was popularized by the Sparkle Pony Corral, a theme camp present in Black Rock City from 2009-2010. Frustrated participants could drop off their camp’s sparkle ponies at the corral where they would be fed, watered, and have their egos stroked by “certifiable experts.” Sparkle ponies received much-needed attention while campmates received a much-needed break. See also: Tourist."

"You can call them tourists or accuse them of not beholden the spirit of burner culture, however sparkle pony seems to just be a burner name for a way to approach life that is cross-cultural...see user or leech. Sometimes it is ignorance and sometimes it is a sincerely planned thing. Regardless of how you love or don't love sparkle ponies, they are here in this radically inclusive society because no matter how hard you try utopia, it is still made of humans with all their glory and faults. Sparkle pony corral idea cracks me up, by the way."

"If I see someone struggling, I'll help them to the best of my ability without harming myself or others."

"There is a difference in the 'oh crap I forgot something' and the I 'I just didn't pack anything'. For the first type I help if we can spare, for the second, I will share the things we brought specifically for sharing but wont risk running out of things for me and my mates."

"If people want to dip into my supplies, I'm more than happy having them help me with our numerous construction projects...."

"I appreciate definitions that differentiate between ignorance and willful entitlement."

"I did as much research as I could before my first burn this Spring, but there were still things that I missed and probably could not anticipate before actually going to one. Self-reliance is wonderful, but everyone has to start somewhere and I don't think punishing ignorance is a good solution. The people who were most helpful to me in learning self-reliance, who I will try to emulate in the future, were the ones who demonstrated it positively in their own actions, and kindly reached out and shared that knowledge with others." 

"Maybe Sparkle Ponies could be people lacking in self-reliance, who never have any intention of growing out of it. Sparkle Foals can be people who haven't quite learned it yet, but will some day grow into Sparkle Steeds, awesome examples for everyone."

"I personally believe there is a difference between a Sparkle Pony and someone who needs help because they were mildly unprepared."

"Being mildly unprepared is one thing. That's happened to everyone at some point. Hell, my bedding was left behind when we went to Burning Man. Luckily, I was able to procure extra blankets and pillows. That's not being a Sparkle Pony. Mishaps and failed planning happen."

"A Sparkle Pony is someone who take Radical Self-Reliance and tosses it out the window. Who expects to be able to use the community as a crutch, and there be nothing wrong with that (when there most definitely is). 
As for how to deal with them, I'm honestly torn. The snarky burner in me says 'fuck 'em', but letting them starve isn't particularly nice either." 

"My experience is that Sparkle Ponies think that the burn is a big party. Everybody gives them something for nothing. They have no ideas about the principles or just don't care about them. I have seen them show up at burns and give things out expecting something in return. I have seen them show up with no food because 'I heard people were cooking for everybody'. I have helped explain moop-y activities to some of them, especially the confetti with glitter throwing, cig butt throwing, etc. I try to help them learn and if they really need something and I have enough I share."

"I agree that Sparkle Ponies can be described as those who disregard the principles, namely radical self-reliance. I think it's important to be aware of what that phrase represents and to remember to not use it loosely or in a manner that makes someone feel attacked. I know there's obvious playful attacks but I'm cautioning against using it like a derogatory insult. Sometimes a newb doesn't even realize they're offending or falling short of a standard. I like the help them within reason fix, as long as it's accompanied with an explanation (principle lesson) that isn't beating them up. I would hold off on frustration or letting the blood pressure rise until they show themselves to be a serial sparkler. Then give them shit. I'd also like to caution using that phrase for someone if you are certain it fits. One of my friends who came to an event felt very alienated because she overheard people calling her a Sparkle Pony (not sure if they knew she could hear) and it felt like exactly the opposite of what I love about and brag about at a burn or from burners. It felt like judgement and like she wasn't welcomed. Not everyone fully gets the culture yet and not everyone nails it on the first couple tries. Please stay considerate before pointing fingers. We're all growing in our storylines. Thanks again everybody!!! You mo fo's are tits awesome."

"If I know that someone is new I usually try to help and explain more. I have seen the same group of people show up more than once with nothing, wearing feathers and glitter, throwing butts everywhere and begging for food or something warm or something cold or somewhere to sleep. Those are definite Sparkleys!"

"As someone who's been around burners forever, but is not a burner yet, I'm in love with it. All of it."

"No where else in the world can I go and KNOW that I won't be responsible for everyone else. Everyone knows I'm always prepared and you can come to me if you've forgotten something, just about anything. It's become a problem, I'm suddenly feeding/watering/clothing more then myself and my kids are grown."

"For me, when i hang out with my burner friends, it's like getting to be with a group of respectful, fun, grown ups, who have all taken the time to plan (in advance even!) for the event." 

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I've raised my kids, and they were taught to plan ahead. Taking on the responsibility of another person, maybe even a stranger, is no fun. And can be extremely frustrating and a total inconvenience." 

"My point is this, respect for yourself and others is taught. Most kids and/or adults don't show respect because they've never seen it. It's shameful." 

"If you respect your peers, or in this case, fellow burner community, you wouldn't be a sparkle pony. You'd respect yourself enough to take care of you, and then respect the rest of us enough to not be a burden. As an adult you are responsible for yourself, we may understand that, but I've dealt with many that haven't learned that lesson." 

"Radical entitlement."

"Sleeping in a cold wet sleeping bag and other "environmental" problems were hardships. I have dealt with such before and I know it's just a matter of enduring them. They have little effect on my world. "Sparkle Ponyism" is what broke me. I tried to contribute to the burn... because I believe that is much of what a burn is about. Not because of fear of some label. After I arrived it seemed like there was a continual mantra chanting around me: "Don't be a Sparkle Pony.' It was clear to me that it wasn't enough not to be a Sparkle Pony. I could not APPEAR to be a Sparkle Pony to anyone. I specifically came because the tenant of radical inclusion. I quickly found I wouldn't be excluded due to my mental illness, but every time I tried to be on the receiving end of gifting... I faced people who might view my need for food, etc. as 'wanting more than I was giving'. I believe there are a lot of first time burners who've never known a burner. Whether you admit it or not, you have built a society with built-in pressures to conform. Most people don't see that because they know from other burners the difference between 'right & rude'. I had no one to teach me by example. I tried every method I could think of to convey 'Yes, you have wonderful food... but I don't want to just talk about it and look at it... I need to eat some.' It was probably just bad luck that my first attempts were viewed as 'Waiter? serve me some food.' It took a lot of passive observation just to learn that I needed to bring my own vessel and utensils. This problem of knowing how to be a burner went far beyond your traditions surrounding communal eating. I could have lived with eating my cookies and chips for 4 days. It was that I felt excluded from most burner activities (and therefore burner society as a whole) because I couldn't figure out how to not step on people's toes. I don't care if I piss off someone, but I came for acceptance from burners in general. What I found was that if I could wait for people to come to me and step into my environment; then there was no problem. When I tried to step out into your society... I couldn't tell the difference between not being liked and not being accepted. Instead of drumming in what behaviors are not okay. How about a simple course in how to fit in and what IS acceptable? My burn ended with me overjoyed. It wasn't just the outpouring of love. It's because I believe I now know the basics in how to be part of the 'all inclusive' burner society. I've learned enough of your subtle language that I can just relax and enjoy the next burn."

"To me, a sparkle pony is one who willfully disregards self-reliance, assuming others will take of the boring things. It's not someone who tries hard even while making mistakes. If once you know better, you do better: not a sparkle pony. Just a new burner getting your bearings."

"I experienced massive culture shock at my first burn as I quickly realized that I had an enormous amount of behavior to study and emulate if I wanted to be accepted. Each principle has it's own meaning for every individual but they still project a basic picture of the whole. I'm sorry you were made to feel like you stepped on toes or weren't welcome... thankfully that's something I didn't experience. No one person ever made me to feel unwelcome, but I quickly learned which behaviors or actions didn't really fly with those around. As an example, I didn't know about radical self-expression for my first burn. I just thought it was a simple camping trip so I brought the most grungy and raggedy clothes. No one ever said or did ANYTHING negative to me about it, but I quickly felt out of place. Now I'm all bright and shiny, lol."

"It's a problem with culture in general. It's a living breathing entity. Visiting a burn is like going to a country where everyone speaks the same-ish language but all the customs and practices are completely different. There can be a harsh learning curve at times, but most burners are more than willing to help educate you in a positive way... or at least a tongue in cheek-snarky one! This place really is removed from the default world."

"Stewardship! Stepping up and picking up trash because it's there (LNT), helping a child find his camp (Civic Responsibility), welcoming people home for 2 hours (Volunteering), making naked bacon pancakes for people (Immediacy, Decommodification), telling a fart joke or being a shoulder to cry on (Gifting), n etc... When you become responsible, when you think beyond yourself, you cant help but incorporate the 10 Principles. If you forget, or you are new: pick up after yourself and others, don't put it in the porto if it did not come outta your body, engage people, try new things, don't be a dick!  Oh, don't be a shirt cocker. Dudes walk around with just a shirt n their junk hanging out. That's just dumb. Unless, you are in Camp Shirt Cocker and then it would be kinda cool..."

"My first burn I was 'involved' with the effigy team but didn't do much to actually help. Why this happened is a long story for another day. I came and absorbed anything and everything people offered. I enjoyed meals in camps and they expected nothing in return. Nobody ever asked me not to do this, nor gave me a hard time because I was hungry or thirsty, or needed something. They were just stoked that it was my first time and I was trying. Maybe a little bit of 'fuck yer burn' flavor, but nothing that wasn't taken jokingly."

"By Friday night I was hooked and I got it. Walking high fives, giving of myself, reaching out to people." 

"All of us, whether we put time into the build, have been here a week earlier setting up, or even helped maintain camp and cook meals - we are all a part of this, big or small. We all play a role."

"I feel like this thread may of scared some people into asking for help when they genuinely need it. Every noob is a Sparkle Pony in their own way (including myself). We all need to remember our first time and how much you may of had planned or prepared already for you. The community helped tame my wild oats and turned me into a being that just sparkles now."

"I'm glad that others reached out to help you when they did and that overall everything was a positive. Even in this environment it can be scary to ask questions or even interact. We only bite if you consent first though. <3"

"I find burn culture so interesting because there is no one definitive authority, and yet it still functions well. There is no one right answer to any of our questions about the principles, no static definition - only a collective idea and individual experiences and thoughts that define each one. The Hive Mind in action. The more we try to get it right, the clearer the buzzing becomes, I think."

"I have learned something new from each burn I have went to. We thought we were pretty prepared but some things got left unpacked and then we figured out our structure, while seeming pretty stable, didn't hold up against high winds and hail lol. But we walked away from this weekend not upset about our tent raft, but inspired to try a yurt next year and proud to have learned even more about tarping and packing."

We love our Mosaic Community and all the insightful comments into this very engaging thread!

From an organizer's perspective, we like to remind everyone to read and share the Survival Guide, and if you know someone you suspect will be a so-called "Sparkle Pony" please send them the link and ensure they also read it. Quiz them! :-)

Your Bad Planning Is Not My Emergency