Burning Man 1994


Art Cars at Burning Man 1994. Tom Kennedy’s Ripper the Friendly Shark pictured

Art Cars at Burning Man 1994. Tom Kennedy’s Ripper the Friendly Shark pictured

The expansion of art continued in 1994, with additional installation art appearing, more performance art occurring and art cars/mutant vehicles becoming more significant.

The month before the 1994 Burning Man, the Somar Gallery held a fundraiser benefiting Burning Man and Desert Siteworks. For the first time, DSW was scheduled to occur simultaneously with Burning Man, kicking off on Monday, with Burning Man again occupying Labor Day weekend, while DSW continued. This would prove to be the last Desert Siteworks event, but many of the participants in DSW would morph into Burning Man, further pushing the Burn in a more artistic direction.

In 1994, around 2000 people would attend Burning Man, double the year before and the fifth year in a row of doubled population.

“Burning Man is an intensely participatory experience. We encourage spontaneous performance, costumes, and original campsite architecture. Bring musical instruments. Invent games. Respond to the desert. Make a statement. This year we invite participants to build shrines, altars, votive temples, etc. which express their conception of the desert environment. Here is a partial list of planned attractions.” ~ from the flier handed out at entrance gate in ‘94.

On Ryder truck being used to transport the Man broke down in Reno. Ryder originally brought a new truck and suggested they unload and reload the contents, but Dan Miller and Mark Church insisted this wasn’t going to work. Once Ryder saw what had been loaded, they agreed to tow the broken down truck to the playa.

Somar Gallery Show

1994 SOMAR postcard.png
The Man, August 4, 1994 at Somar Gallery, San Francisco.

The Man, August 4, 1994 at Somar Gallery, San Francisco.

By 1994, the cost associated with hosting the event was increasing. Paid attendance was also increasing, and tickets was becoming slightly more formal. However, cash flow was still an issue, with various founder’s credit cards being used to bridge the funding gap.

To help have some source of funds prior to the events opening (gate collections were still the primary source of revenue in 1994), and to help offset some of the cost of the Desert Siteworks gathering, DSW and and Burning Man co-hosted a fundraising event at the Somar Gallery on August 4th and 5th.

For the show the man (designed and built under the lead of Larry Harvey’s roommate, Dan Miller and with neon by John Law. Not only did this expose the Burning Man event to more of the general public, but critically, it introduced it to a wide cross section of the Bay Area artist community, as well as the Bay Area media.

While the $3 admission did help the organizations, the event was covered in the Bay Area alternative papers, as well as in several art focused newsletters.

Media and the Man

Despite being a relatively small scale event, 1994 was the year where Burning Man began to gain national and international media attention. The New York Times Sunday Magazine carried a two page spread of the event. Various news agencies brought camera crews, including ABC Australia. Chuck Cirino brought a camera and made segments for his show Weird TV, and later used this footage to create the first feature length film on the event.

Internet Broadcast

Alfredo Lusa put up a tower with a yagi directional antenna and beamed a signal from the playa to a dish attached to a small tower next to a room at Bruno’s Motel in Gerlach. Burning Man rented room 30 and hooked a 56kbs dial-up modem to the phone line. The broadcast used an early form of the CU-SeeMe, which had been released the year before. The pictures were low resolution, and it took about a half-hour per photo.

The broadcast was part of Monk Magazine’s travels across America. (Announcement 1, and 2)

Art Projects

Participants in 1994 were promised an “avenue of art”: “This year the processional roadway leading outward form our camp will extend beyond Burning Man into the deep space of the desert. Along it we will locate works of Art. Among them you’ll discover:”

The Avenue of the Arts was an important first step toward developing a more cohesive view of art on the Playa; a way of using art to tell a story of sorts. Larry Harvey noted:

By placing installations in a row and traveling along it, it was possible to evoke drama on a grandiose scale. In 1994, this Avenue of Art, as it came to be called, featured a series of exploding clowns, created by arch-prankster Al Ridenour, known as the Reverend Al, and members of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society. This arrangement of artworks along a single vector, I now realized, could become a mode of narration, a story that unfolded in a spatial sequence.

Church of the Pyramid Camera Obscura

by Chris de Monterey

This temple takes the form of that mysteriously powerful pyramid which stares back at us from dollar bills. Within its darkened sanctum is a camera obscura. A rotating lens mounted on the pyramid focuses a revolving panorama of the world outside upon a concave screen. Rituals include a ceremonial Camera Burning.

Fire Lingam

by Pepe Ozan

Lingram by Pepe Ozan, 1994

Lingram by Pepe Ozan, 1994

Pepe returned to Burning Man again in 1994 with another iteration of his Lingram. The 30′ chimney is made of playa mud over a rebar and metal mesh structure.

The final day, a fire was ignited in the Lingram, slowly reducing the work to the dust from which it originated. As it burned, the haunting cracks reminded some of the desert floor and others of their own mortality. Man recall the burning of this Lingram as an important point of inflection in the early Burning Man years.

Pepe was assisted by Steve Morgenstern, Wayne Scott and Robert Burne in this project.

Pepe Ozan, 1994 Lingram

Four Directions

by Ric Louchard; altars by Lynn Marsh

Four speakers were positioned at each compass point circling the Man and facing inward. the Man project four different sound environments created for the playa. The 19-minute quadrophonic composition was timed to end at sunrise each day. Participants could walk through the sound field, blending or isolating any of the tracks playing in the immersive experiment.


Precious, Burning Man 1994

Precious, Burning Man 1994

by David Lundquist and Frisco Rose.

A 16-foot long bronze dragon that breathes fire. The first fire projecting art piece that we can remember!

Twin Shower

by Greg Schlanger

A twin-stalled shower that obliged would-be bathers to work together, with one person climbing a ladder to supply water for the other from a cistern shaped like Pyramid Lake.

The Daygloasis:

Daygloasis, by Graham Cruickshank, David Davenport and Gabriel Plumlee

Daygloasis, by Graham Cruickshank, David Davenport and Gabriel Plumlee

For some reason, Daygloasis is absent from virtually all accounts of Burning Man history. But it was there! Described as “ painted blacklit mosaic glowing on the desert floor.” Artists: Graham Cruickshank, David Davenport and Gabriel Plumlee.

It was located near the rave camp (which was nearly a mile away from the center camp). The photo to the right not only shows the art, but shows that the rave camp had moved up in the world, and was afforded their own porta-potties in 1994.

Twin Shower by Greg Schlanger

A twin-stalled shower that obliged would-be bathers to work together, with one person climbing a ladder to supply water for the other from a cistern shaped like Pyramid Lake.

Stone Maze by Alex Champion

A labyrinth of stones with a hidden walkie-talkie at the center, which allowed those who reached the center to converse with an unseen oracle.

The Annual Performance Art Show

In 1994, Larry Harvey and Pepe Ozan hosted a “Annual Performance Art Show” featuring the following performances:

Spontaneous Combustion Theater

by the LA Cacophony Society

The LA Cacophony brought several dummies, loaded them up with fireworks and blew them up. Performance art may be a stretch, but it blew up real good. From the 1994 gate flyer: “Fire breathing poets and incendiary clowns trace the origin of spontaneous human combustion through this anarcho-burlesque, audience participatory theater intoxication ritual. It’s aesthetic anarchy with a smile!”

The Incredible Exploding Couple (now enlarged to ménage a tois):

As in past years Kimric Smythe strapped explosives to himself and his wife Heidi. The 1994 greeters book also noted that Robert McMullen would join the show, although we don’t remember him participating:

“Heidi and Kimric Smythe, joined this year by Robert McMullen, will again perform – their bodies festooned with fireworks and kinetic devices. (Complaints were voiced in 1993 that this daring duo did not actually explode, but merely showered sparks and rockets. This year, Kimric, eager to satisfy his public, promises to blow himself up).”

Crimson Rose and Will Roger Fire Show

A fire show by Will Roger and Crimson Rose wearing body paint by Jason Norelli. Together they ignited the Man, to end the year’s gathering.

Music on the Playa

“SHARKBAIT”: Described as a “retro-proto-apocoloytic band will bring their distinctive brand of cacophonous percussion to the Burn on Sunday night. Bring something to beat on.” Sharkbait was a San Francisco-based industrial noise band that was playing festivals in the early 90s. John Law noted “Sharkbait was one of the truly astonishing San Francisco ensembles. Kimba [Anderson] and bandmates Chris Taylor, Mr. Clean, Greg Slugocki and others created a unique, audience participation element for their one of a kind performances. Kind of a metal/noise/glam/industrial hybrid, Sharkbait would drag audience members up onto their stage set and, after outfitting them in welding chaps, gauntlets and full helmets, would hand them a sledge hammer and put them into chain link cages where the virtually frothing at the mouth fans turned performers would frantically smash the crap out of a seemingly endless pile of televisions…Priceless.”

“ENEMIES OF THE GATE CRASHER”: A show was advertised as “Music from alternative powered psychedelic experimentalists. A solar, wind, stream, and stationary bicycle powered music troupe accompanied by wood lathes”. We do not have any recollection of this show actually happening, however!

RAVEI: SPaZ played the “rave camp”. It was reported that they “will be joined this year by the ‘ZIPPY Pronoia Tour to US ‘94’ direct from the Grand Canyon. (Pronoia is the sneaking feeling that someone is conspiring behind your back to help you.) Look for it late night approx. 1 mile East of camp.” SPaZ…Semi Permanent Autonomous Zone, included Terbo Ted, the first person to DJ at Burning Man.

Other Attractions

The official Handout

JAVA COW: The Java Cow will again arise at dawn. Assemble before the Man on Sunday morning, your favorite coffee cup in hand, to receive libation. “Do you want cream and sugar in your coffee? Most emphatically, “no!” You will want it black. Witness the Sun traverse the spine of Burning Man and exit the top of his head.

ALL-STAR WRESTLING: The assembled forces of Light and Darkness will contend in combat at sundown on Saturday evening. If you attend this epochal struggle in costume –attire which expresses your conception of this theme—you’ll be allowed ringside. Be prepared to cheer your side on to TOTAL VICTORY. Participants are also invited to visit Hell Town (produced by Heidi Smythe and Robert McMullen) and Angels Camp (Saint Peter Doty presiding) where these teams will be training.

LECTURE: University of California archeologist Billy Clewlow will evoke the prehistoric lake which filled the Black Rock Basin from 7,500 to 12,000 years ago. Return to the Plesistocene, when camels, mammoths, cave bears and saber-toothed cats roamed the marshy shores of Old Lake Lahanton. Billy will describe his search for Pre-Clovis man along the edge of this vanished lakeside world. He will also discuss the use of large-scale sculpture for ceremonial purposes in Pre-Columbian societies.

CARGO CULT: Grab some rum, ice, fruit, and a glass and follow the drums to Tiki Camp where you will find blenders, little paper umbrellas, torch light, and Martin Denny music. Wear your best/worst tropical shirt or mu-mu to add to the ambiance of this tropical potluck. Your host: Capt’n Kahunadoggie 510-687-5369.

LITTLE CHAPEL OF THE PLAYA: Come celebrate your nuptials or renew your vows at our Wedding Chapel, Rev. C. Linville presiding. For a nominal fee you will received an authentic desert wedding certificate and Polaroid snapshot. Sponsored by Portland Cacophony Society.

SKEET GOLF: A unique amalgam of two American sports. Bring your favorite shipper and a 12 gauge.

DESERT FASHION SHOW: Plan to attend our 3rd annual desert fashion show, produced by Semi-Real Productions on Sunday afternoon. We welcome designers of any kind, individuals who come dressed in elaborate or simple costumes, or others who get inspired spontaneously. This year’s show is entitled “$Land of the Free$”. Coordinator: Traci Swedlow. Call 415-241-0664 for more information.

SPIRAL DANCE: Be prepared to participate in a large-scale dance ceremony. The face of everyone assembled will pass before you. Choreographer: Kim Jack

SEPTEMBERFEST: Home Brew Beer Garden hosted by Sebastian Hyde. Call 415- 759- to schedule your brew

DRAG RACES: Got the urge to put on clothes of the opposite sex and run a 50 yard dash in the desert? Your starter: Invisible Ray. Call 213-368- to register.


Fashion ceramic figurines which will be sacrificed at our Burn on Sunday evening. Artists: Janet Lohr.

BUILD YOUR OWN BRUNING WOMAN, CHILD, PRAWN, WHATEVER: Design and build and effigy of your own and we will burn it Sunday evening. Bring your own materials (we’ll supply fuel) or use those cached at Central Camp. If you wish to participate call Dan Miller at: 415-621- .

Make your own kite and fly it by day and night. Materials and expertise furnished by the Kite Post Workshop.

Anyone wishing to conduct a craft workshop should call our hotline. You must furnish and transport your own materials.Register now is you wish to attend. Burning Man Project – (415) 985-7471-P.O. Box 420572 San Francisco CA 94142- 0572

The 2nd Building Burning Man, featuring an interview of Larry Harvey by Larry Harvey (using his pen name)

The 2nd Building Burning Man, featuring an interview of Larry Harvey by Larry Harvey (using his pen name)

The Black Rock Gazette

The Black Rock Gazette