Burning Man is all about enjoying life and celebrating our brief time here on Earth. Naturally, this type of celebration calls for late nights full of music, dancing, and a rollicking good time. What better way to celebrate and dance the night away than with a larger-than-life boom box art installation? We couldn’t think of anything more fitting.
“Rockbox” was created by Bay Area artist and Burner Derek Wunder. He was inspired to create this portable art installation after observing weather-worn cars with blown-out speakers driving around the desert during his 2004 visit to Burning Man. He modeled his portable party machine after 80s boomboxes and his love of old-school hip hop. This art piece definitely brings the party wherever it goes.
A Stunning Landscape
Every year, Burning Man pops up in the middle of the Nevada desert as a vibrant, lively community. A key part of the annual Burning Man community is the plethora of stunning art installations. It’s an amazing feat for artists to plan, transport, and install their larger-than-life installations. Despite all of the struggles and hours of hard work, the final result is always stunning.
Burning Man follows a “leave no trace” philosophy, so most artists choose to use natural and recycled materials when constructing their installations. For example, these giant figures create a striking image against the desolate desert background. They’re made with glass mosaic tile and shiny metal material, which makes them stand out all the more against the dry hills and brown dirt.
Burning Man's Humble Origins
Today, we know Burning Man as an event that draws tens of thousands of people out to the remote Black Rock Desert every year. However, Burning Man had much more humble beginnings before it became synonymous with the Nevada desert. The first few Burning Man events were held at San Francisco’s Baker Beach before authorities caught on and banned the community in 1990.
The ban was mainly due to wildfire hazards, which is understandable considering that the event was centered around burning “The Man” statue. Founders Jerry James and Larry Harvey then moved Burning Man and their community to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Every year, Burning Man gathers in a semi-circular settlement that is so large that it can be seen from high above in the sky.
Burning “The Man” Is How Burning Man Started
It was a gathering that became an event. A community that started a tradition. In a 2018 WaPo interview, New Yorker Jim Glaser shared his thoughts. He describes it as “kaleidoscopic magic,” saying, “it is just huge! There are lasers, there are art cars, and there are flames shooting out of everything. And people do all of this for basically no money.” “It is one of the most barren places in the country, and it blossoms with more creativity, life, and love than anything ever in the history of mankind,” Glaser explained.
It attracts the eccentric, the experimental, the curious, and the strange. It’s a barter and trade community where nothing is for sale. It’s about giving and receiving and self-reliance. People pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert, a remote area two-and-a-half hours north of Reno, to live free in an open and radically inclusive community for nine blissful days.
The Music of the Desert
Burning Man is a place of music and fun, and what could be more fun than getting into an objet d'art metal cage and playing a grand piano? The piano is probably really, really out of tune, but that's no reason not to pound out a note that speaks to you at the moment.
It's possible that nobody even heard what this musician was playing, but the desert hears it all. There was a photographer there to capture the moment, however, so we know that at least one person was able to appreciate it. How did they get the piano in there, though?