Burning Squid, Burning Man


Apr 6, 2003
Back in 1986, a fellow named Larry Harvey threw an event on a San Francisco beach to mark the summer solstice. The climax of the affair was the burning of a wooden "man." That initial event, attended by less then 100 enthusiasts, has now grown into an annual festival held in the Nevada Desert, a week-long art "happening" that involves @ 25,000 people in the creation of a temporary community called Black Rock City, and culminates in the burning of a much larger wooden stick figure.

Every year, the festival takes a theme, and in 2002 the theme was "The Floating World." The artists collectively known as The Blacklight Aquarium created Inky's Bar and Lounge to provide shade and refreshment for the revelers. Inky was not set on fire. Click here to see an evocative shot of Inky's after dark.

And yet, Inky was not the first squid to visit the Playa, as Burning Man's desert site is known. In 1999, there was the Squid Bike.

Any TONMO'ers been to Burning Man? Looks like fun, to say the least.


Burning Squid (Clem)
I grew up in Santa Cruz, and all my friends were hipster-pierced-tatooed-primitive-pagan types (the love of my life was a body piercer and performance artist, R.I.P.), so they were all "over it" as they had all been to the first couple and pronounced that all after the first few "sucked"... I now regret missing the ones I had a chance to go to because there were probably a lot of great BM's that I missed out on but at this point I wonder if it is actually totally commercialized?
I've always had an amusing time at burning man...a little out there, both in location and people, but a fair amount of fun.
Didn't like the hangover(s) though...
I've got a lot of friends who invest the time and cash to get to Burning Man every year, all the way from Sydney. From their reports, I certainly wouldn't think the festival has become commericalised. But I suspect that the more people who find out about it, the more regulated and less intense it will become. You know, the avant garde slowly becomes mainstream?

I'm planning on coming over for Burning Man in 2004, so I'll find out first hand. I suspect the coming back will be harder than the going.

Thanks for the 1997 Burning Man "ammonite," Kevin. It's very attractive, I think. I just can't decide which of Geo-artist Hendrik Hackl's quotes I find funniest:

"You were not just volunteers, you turned this erection into a pleasure."

"I was really happy to see that nobody set my crate on fire."

Maybe there should be a TONMO contingent at Burning Man. What could we build?

Ah, now this is my kinda topic! I've been going to Burningman at least every other year since '97. 2002 was my most recent trip, and the underwater theme was terrific. My husband and our dearest friends go out together, as well as to Flipside, the Texas regional burn event. We actually have a squid costume that we always take with us:


I guess we are die-hard ceph lovers at heart. Yeah, I know squids aren't orange and green.

My husband also spins fire:

As far as B-man getting commercialized, I don't really think it has. The nature of the festival is radical self-expression, community, and gift economy. I am not so good at the talking about b-man, but my friend Brett is. He's an incredibly eloquent fellow, and has a wonderful way with words:

Hello Shannen,


Thanks for posting those great photos. Was your husband defending the dam against the aqua-dancers' onslaught, or vice versa? I particularly liked the action shot of him swinging an arm like a morning-star.

That was a friend of ours, and he was kind of a sideshow performance to accompany the water ballet folks. There were mermaids too! It was pretty hilarious.
Hello, all.

I thought I'd finally create an account here, having previously been a lurker. Ika-San and I both built Inky the Giant Squid. We carted him out to Burning Man from 2002 through 2006, when he "retired" from the event. I see a lot of the photos here have been lost, so I'll re-post them when I have some time.

In the meantime, I'm happy to say that both Ika-San and I will be attending Tonmocon III in Monterey. It's a great town (Ika-San often scuba-dives there, and I looove the aquarium), and with cephalopods being a favorite subject of ours, how could we miss the opportunity?

I hope to meet some of you there.
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