Silicon Valley's alternative scene gathers online; Burning Man went virtual

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

Burning Man, the week long festival in the Nevada desert which usually attracts 70.000 people who want to have a free and spiritual experience for a few days, was cancelled this year. Instead the organisers held a week long virtual burning man experience last week.

Normally during Burning Man, thousands of artists and volunteers get together to build gigantic art structures in the empty desert. In the middle of the festival grounds is a gigantic wooden man, which gets burned at the end of the festival, hence the name Burning Man. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the festival got cancelled. The organisers decided to organise a online version of the festival as an alternative.

The theme of this year was Multiverse. To capture the theme yhe Burning Man team created different 2D and 3D virtual experiences and called it the SparkleVerse. Their visitors could find places like the Ethereal Empyrean Experience, the digital version of the Burning Man Temple, which is normally a place for people to reflect, grieve or leave an offering.

People also had the ability to create their own camps or art installations, with the help of online workshops organised by veteran Burning Man artists. There were some digital dance party's and even a virtual group hug!

According to Ed Cooke, one of the creators of SparkleVerse, people had to set up tent in their living room and dress up in costumes to get the full online Burning Man experience. He explained that:

"Getting up and dancing in front of your screen, bothering to put on a costume, jumping around, these things are extraordinarily powerful in terms of taking you into new realms of experience."

Instead of burning a gigantic sculpture of the Burning Man, organises streamed videos of people burning smaller sculptures in their backyards, doing fire performances of lighting candles.

Parts of the shows and ceremonies are available online on the Burning Man website, here.


Source: NPR