So instead, I'm now writing this post. The good news part of the title refers to both the fact that I've really hit my stride in the workshop at KAOS (I'm almost finished with a new sculpture), and the fact that Burning Man did in fact say "Yes" to one of my proposals (!). In fact, they have decided to fund the one that I strongly hoped they would fund... so this is quite good news.
Burning Man requests that announcements not be made public (in a big way) until February 28th, so... I will not be sending out my regular notification about this blog-post until that time, nor will I give any detail right now about what I intend to build for the festival.
I will take a minute though, to mention the proposals which they declined to fund. And yes, I did write proposals, in plural. While I did not mention this previously, I actually submitted three proposals, but only two of them were for new work. The third proposal was to bring back the Hand of Man. The Hand was funded originally by Burning Man in 2008, making this its 10th birthday. I thought it would have been a great time to showcase it (again), what with this year's theme and all, but Burning Man passed on the idea. I'm sure that the considerable shipping costs of bringing it all the way from Berlin were a factor in the decision. I am currently beginning to consider the idea of a crowdfunding endeavor to bring it anyway.
The other proposal which they elected not to fund was called "Stupendobot 2000," or alternatively "BrokeBot 2000." In this proposal I was trying to capture some of the emotion elicited when we see "robot fail" videos like this one. To me, they are hilarious. I think the emotion involved is something a bit like schadenfreude, but with an extra added element of secretly desperate superiority... a feeling along the lines of "Thank god those robots are still so clumsy. We are safe... for now." Anyway these videos are uniquely capable of making me bust up laughing, and I wanted to capture something of that humor, as well as something of the internally inconsistent idea of a "crazy," or nonsensically designed robot. Robots are normally thought of as the pinnacle of sensibility. After all, why go to the trouble of designing something so complicated if it's not going to be efficient and productive? So the idea of a robot that was so poorly executed that it just couldn't stop failing struck me as quite funny. I wrapped the whole thing up in a dystopian narrative about a future in which robots have taken over the job of replicating themselves (obviating humans), but are afflicted with a virus or a replicating error, and can't get it right.
This was the proposal about which I was very conflicted whether to submit or not. Basically, although I thought the ideas underpinning it were funny and good, at the end of the day I just felt a lot more passionately about the other proposal, the one which they did in fact agree to fund. I underwent a real crisis for a few hours about whether to actually press "SEND" on this one, agonizing about whether I'd rather BM fund Stupendobot 2000, or nothing at all. In the end though, it didn't matter, as BM apparently saw something of value in the vision I have for the other proposal. I have no idea if anyone at BM is reading my blog, but let this be the first of many times that I say "Thank You."
The other bit of good news is that I've really been feeling the inspiration over at KAOS. Once I started working on the faces for my BM proposal, another idea quickly popped into my head. That's the one involving the birch trees that I wrote about previously. The basic idea is: coming up from the floor we have a set of birch branches (inverted to look more like roots), these branches transition into the legs of a female human figure who is normal until her head, which is an unspecified type of advanced technology involving a camera of some sort.
This idea, like most of the good ones, sprung up from my subconscious pretty much fully formed. I did not have to agonize over this one, "constructing" it in my conscious mind in the hopes of hitting on something good. After fully conceiving it, I saw that it was quite clearly inspired by "2001 A Space Odyssey." If this piece had a voice with which to describe itself, it would just be "A perfectly beautiful example of plant life giving way to a perfectly beautiful example of humanity giving way to a perfectly beautiful example of technology. Each stage depends upon and grows out of the stage below it."
As I write this post, I am only about 2 hours of work away from completely finishing the piece. But Kodiak is home sick from school, Christina is in Barcelona, and so I am writing a blog post instead of finishing the sculpture. So we will have to be content for now with some in-progress pictures.
Here is the rough photo-shop mockup of the sculpture:
Here is how she stood in the workshop a few days ago, on the occasion of the first test-assembly of all the components together:
Here is the finished head, assembled onto the body. The LED lights, with a chip that causes them to blink, were a gift from Kodiak from a toy that he disassembled!
Here is the more-or-less finished transition between the branches and the legs.
I had a brief discussion with myself about whether to carve a vagina into this sculpture, and I simply could not find any reason not to do it. (Well, not any good reason. I suppose there are plenty of reasons not to do that, but they all reek of conservatism and conventional morality, concepts to which I am not partial.) In any case, I did not want this sculpture to read as "tree becomes mannequin becomes camera." I wanted it to read as "tree becomes woman becomes camera." Imagine if I'd sculpted the female form out of clay instead of using a mannequin? How would it seem in that case if I'd sculpted an androgynous and sexless pubic mound? Weird, right?
Anyway, I did make the vagina too small, I think. But then again, it's just above eye level and I did not want the whole sculpture to be about the genitalia, so I think if it's a bit understated that is OK. I did do a practice sculpture in butter, which has (unsurprisingly) generated some amusement on Instagram. It turns out that vaginas are really interesting, sculpturally, and butter is an interesting medium in which to sculpt.
In other news, I am starting to consider getting off Facebook. I barely use it, and I think it's depressing and inherently evil. And it feels like a mildly revolutionary act to get off of it. But then again, it would be good for publicizing my "Bring the Hand of Man back to Burning Man" crowdfunding campaign. What should I do?
¡Hasta la próxima vez!
28/2/18 ••• EDIT WITH NEW CONTENT •••
I do now have finished pictures of the "birch lady" sculpture.
My friend Doyle has suggested the name "Big Mother" for this piece and I think I'm gonna keep it.
To quote (or paraphrase, really) the immortal words of Spinal Tap, I want the sculpture to be sexy without being sexist. I've had some discussion which suggests the possibility that I might have slightly missed the mark, through subtleties of the way I have depicted the genitalia.
If you have something constructive to say on the topic, I welcome the input.
This post will be followed very quickly by another one with more info about my Burning Man project!