The Man


A multiverse may be the coexistence of multiple universes separated by space, time, or dimension. We may exist in one, some, or all of these simultaneously; however, we continue to find ourselves at the center of that which we call our general reality. When we look beyond what we know about this reality, perhaps to find something larger than ourselves, we can’t help but also seek to find humanity in the vastness of this expanding all.

As a concept for the 2020 Man Pavilion, this wood structure represents five bubble universes held in suspended animation at the center of the Burning Man Multiverse. Four entry portals form connections like cosmic wormholes, and reveal the interstitial Space that is holding all possible futures and realities in quantum constellation. The fifth cardinal direction connects to the Man. Through this portal, a mirrored man reaches down. Looking up, you are mirrored back.

In this Multiverse, YOU are the Man. The Man is YOU. You are the true centrifuge for your experience, and your energy has the power to expand this universe as you know it.” 

Two thousand years before Kafka’s Gregor Samsa woke up as a cockroach, Ovid, the literary bad boy of First Century Rome, was writing about metamorphoses dire and diverse. In a world caught between human folly and godly whims, his luckless heroes find themselves transformed into birds and beasts, trees and mountains, even constellations of stars. In some cases metamorphosis is meted out as reward, in others as divine punishment. And looming over every verse is the specter of death, the final transformation, a terminal point at which change is irreversibly arrested. To read these stories is a potent reminder that life is by its nature a transformative journey, where fate and character interact in unpredictable ways.


I Robot

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through interaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Isaac Asimov - I Robot


Radical Ritual

This year's theme is an attempt to reinvent ritual in our post post-modern world. For this purpose, we will disregard assertions of belief and concentrate instead on the immediate experience of play. Beliefs contain, define, and limit meaning. They can reduce truth to a rational commodity. But play can free us to envision truths of which we have no proof or warrant. Such play, as we conceive it, breaks down the distinction that divides belief from make-believe. Whole-hearted and creative play induces self-surrender to experience that is beyond the realm of reasoned thought.




Da Vinci's Workshop

Burning Man’s 2016 art theme is inspired by the Italian Renaissance of the middle fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage launched Europe out of medievalism and into modernity. Our story will focus on the republic of Florence, for it was here, in a city-state of about the same size and population as Black Rock City, that humanist ideals, a rediscovery of science, and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization. Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.


Carinval of Mirrors

The 2015 theme was about mirrors and masks, mazes and merger. It was a kind of magic show that takes the form of an old-fashioned carnival. This Carnival of Mirrors asks three essential questions: within our media-saturated world, where products and people, consumption and communion morph into an endlessly diverting spectacle, who is the trickster, who is being tricked, and how might we discover who we really are?

Classic carnivals, as theaters of illusion, upheld a very strict dividing line that separated carnies, cast as showmen, from members of a naïve public who were labeled chumps and suckers, marks and rubes. Our carnival, however, will perform an even more subversive trick - its motto is "Include the Rube." The wall dividing the observer from observed will disappear, as by an act of magic; through the alchemy of interaction, everyone at once can be the carny and the fool.





For countless centuries, travelers along the Silk Route crossed paths in caravansaries, a network of oases and sanctuaries that dotted the 4,000-mile road from Europe to East Asia. These bustling caravan stops offered more than just shelter from the desert wilderness; they were vital centers of cultural exchange, bringing together traders, pilgrims, monks, nomads, traveling entertainers, and wild-eyed adventurers from all points of the compass to share their stories around a common fire. Though fueled by mercantilism, their legacy to us is a grand commerce of ideas — a swirling exchange of languages, legends, technologies, philosophies and art that helped shape nearly every aspect of our modern world.


The Man is always the center of the event. Standing by the Man, the Temple is at 12:00 and Center Camp is at 6:00. All week people visit the Man. He is a beacon that stands above all else and is used for navigation all week long. On Saturday evening, the Man is burned after a spectacular fireworks display. There is much celebration during the burning of the Man and when he collapses, throngs begin a counter-clockwise march around the ashes.


As many Burners do, I find myself cogitating so many things about Burning Man: the principles, how to act on the Playa, how I react when I return to the default world. And of the things I've noticed strangely enough as mind rolls Burning Man around is that meeting the Man and more specifically the burning of the Man have been anti-climactic experiences.
Each year Burning Man changes me, improves who I am and infuses me with a deep feeling of creativity and community. And yet the Man him/herself, while a beacon that watches over us all week is just that; a watchful silent totem of so much more that transpires and shapes me… us you.

It watches as I have an amazing conversation with heretofore strangers I meet in deep Playa on an 8:00 a.m. morning perimeter ride. It watches and guides me back to camp late at night. It is like the best kind of friend, forgiving, accepting, and giving. It asks nothing and always gives back.

It is the fact that it has become so large and yet remains so small when compared the Playa that has impressed me the most.

2013 - Cargo Cult

2013 - Cargo Cult

For many the man is a symbol, some experience personified or a unifying force which has allowed each and every one of us the chance to reach out and connect with people we would never expect, but who we find are indispensable. My relationship with the man is as a beacon, although his physical presence is irrelevant. His siren song to others is my own catalyst to travel and see my newly discovered Family. His building, worship, and demolition aren't important but that he has called others to that physical space is crucial.

2012 - Fertility 2.0

2012 - Fertility 2.0

2011 - Rites of Passage

The man is a symbol of death and rebirth. The man is me. The man is you. The man is all the joys and tragedies and mundane events that accrue overtime. We build up a lot of stuff in the cycle of year and we clear it away to make fertile ground for the coming year.

2010 - Megatropolis - The Life of Cities

2010 - Megatropolis - The Life of Cities

2009 - Evolution - A Tangled Bank

2008 - American Dreams

2007 - The Green Man

2006 - Hope and Fear - The Future

2005 - Psyche

2004 - The Vault of Heaven

2003 - Beyond Belief

Sir Loin
The Man represents you, your dreams, your desires, your best, your worst, your weaknesses and strengths - your core, your soul. All week long you visit the Man and leave a little bit of yourself with each moment spent in his presence. On Saturday, amid a giant celebration, the Man burns. The Man's burning is a casting off. Things simply are not that important. You are part of something much bigger, something far more grand. And, as humanity, we celebrate each other.