12 Giant Art Projects Going Up at Burning Man Right Now

Art & Sculpture CNC & Machining Craft & Design Workshop
YouTube player

Burning Man has begun. This week, revelers, artists, and Makers have swarmed Black Rock Desert to set up the yearly festival. Despite concerning problems like swarms of tiny insects never before seen at the event, Burning Man has kicked off without much issue. The bugs are gone, and for the first time this year, there is cell phone reception at the event. As you can see in the Live Stream above, there’s still a lot of work to do!

Jess Hobbs of the Flux Foundation has been nice enough to give us some sneak peeks of some of the big art present on the Playa this year.

Totem Of Confessions

Michael Garlington has brought another intricately detailed chapel experience. The Totem of Confessions is a place to come and make confessions, leave a piece behind, and find things left by others. This meticulously crafted structure will be burnt.

Come one, come all to the mystical Totem of Confessions, Michael Garlington’s newest Chapel! Experience cathartic release as you liberate your secrets, unearth the hidden lives of those around you, and test your fortune and powers for uncovering concealed nooks and hidden compartments holding relics and gifts from the artists’ own hands.


Reflective Resonance

Gamelan X is a performance group that mixes Balinese procession with a West Coast twist. This year they’ve brought Reflective Resonance, a piece that reflects image and sound back at the person facing it.

An interactive musical playground attracting participants from near and far with engaging instruments, resonating sound, and reflective surfaces. The instrument installation will have reflective plate gongs hung vertically over large resonating chambers that will be placed in a circular formation.

The Serpent Mother

Detail of propane lines
Detail of propane lines
Detail of control systems - fire, computer, hydraulics
Detail of control systems: fire, computer, hydraulics

The Flaming Lotus Girls have brought the Serpent Mother back to The Playa for another visit. Originally appearing in 2006, the Serpent Mother is not only massive and beautiful, but fully interactive. Not only can people crowd around her and push buttons to release flames, they also control her writhing motions and jaws.

The Serpent Mother is a 168′ long sculpture of a skeletal serpent, coiled around her egg. Propane fire runs down her spine, with 41 poofers erupting from the top of her gleaming vertebrae. Reaching 20’ in the air, her hydraulically-actuated head and jaws chomp at the sky.

Bismuth Bivouac

Built by Jonathan Leung, his giant wooden cube is a celebration of the geometry of Bismuth. Though monochromatic at first glance, LEDs will be utilized to emulate the rainbow of color shown on the crystal it was inspired by.

Inspired by the geometry from the crystalline growth pattern of the element Bismuth (Bi), the Bismuth Bivouac is a playful pavilion that celebrates the orthogonal geometries that can exist in natural Bismuth crystals to form an intriguing cubic structure, with spiralling disruptions on each face that are governed by the golden ratio. From a distance, the structure appears as a seemingly solid cube, but upon closer inspection, the internal spaces can be explored and utilised. The beautiful iridescent colours of crystal are to be translated into the proposal through coloured LED strip lighting, built into the simple dimensional lumber structure of the pavilion, so at night the Bismuth Bivouac… has the same visually mesmerizing, colourful effect of the Bismuth crystals in nature.

Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea

This temple, honoring the goddess Mazu, encourages a cultural exchange between those who enter. A taste of Taiwan on the Playa.

The Goddess Mazu’s temple on this Empty Sea is built of wood and steel. The temple grounds are 143 meters (470 feet) in circumference, 45 meters (150 feet) in diameter, and the lotus on top reaches a height of 12 meters (40 feet). The grounds are encircled by lanterns, and two outcroppings are connected to the main temple by boardwalks reminiscent of piers. These outcroppings are for Mazu’s two Bodyguards, Qian Li Yan — also known as Thousand Mile Eyes — and Shun Feng Er, which means Ears that Hear the Wind. The Main temple will feature a large lotus sculpture blooming on the roof and fire breathing dragons on each of the eight rafters. Inside, the center column is lit by alcoves of LED lights and supports an eternal flame incense burner. The entrance gate with three doorways will welcome seekers to the temple grounds.

Pavilion Gates

The Gates to the Burning Man pavilion are welcoming and colorful. Just a friendly reminder that this is a happy place.

These are inspired by the entrances that traditionally welcomed visitors to carnivals around the world, in which one enters by walking into the mouth of an enormous head. There are 4 entrances: one is an evil-curious devil, the other is a pop music nerd girl named Lulu, one is a tiger inspired by William Blake’s famous poem, and the last is a pair of elephants with sad eyes that ask you to “abandon all despair” as you enter (should you prefer not to walk into the mouth of a frightening figure).

Big Words

Big Word series installation by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg
Big Word series, installation by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg
Big Word series installation by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg
Big Word series, installation by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg

Laura Kimpton has been bringing Big Words to Black Rock City since 2012. These structures have a simple message, easily seen and found both day and night thanks to their size and their internal illumination.

Storied Haven

Five Ton Crane, the people who have brought us many interesting installations, such as the Nautilus Submarine Car, have built a home in a shoe. Bringing to mind the fairy tales of the old woman who lived in the shoe, we can’t wait to discover what is inside.

She is the keeper of stories, holder of memories, steward of dreams. In a fairytale world where animals talk and children shouldn’t wander the woods at night, an enchanted home inside of a grand boot lures us. It beckons to wayward passersby with a promise of fantastical delight and dark mystery.


R-Evolution is the third in a series by Marco Cochrane and the Bliss Crew.

Constructed of steel rod and balls and covered in stainless steel mesh, with LED lighting effects, R-Evolution is a 48-foot-tall sculpture of a woman, Deja Solis, standing firmly with both feet on the ground, eyes closed, arms open at her sides, palms forward, a peaceful expression — present.

Becoming Human

You may recall Christian Ristow’s massive robotic hand that is the size of a car. He’s back this year with a statement on robots and humanity.

Becoming Human is a 30-foot-tall sculpture of a robot, which occasionally smells the flower in its right hand. The sculpture hopes to inspire viewers to ask questions about technology and nature, and the value of slowing down.

Prairie Wind Chapel

Eerie music will fill your ears as you enter the chapel, assuming the wind is willing. Built by Robert Hoehn and the Wind Tribe, this piece features a collaboration between musicians and the earth itself, with wind powered organs.

Excavated from a dust bowl near the border of Oklahoma and Saskatchewan, the Prairie Wind Chapel was once the heart of the roving town of Aeolia until a tornado wiped it all from the map. As the sole remaining structure of this ghost town, the chapel captures the pilgrims’ peculiar affinity for worshiping the wind and the beautiful mysteries this silent force creates on the open plain. Twin copper wind harps flank the canvas chapel, enticing lost travelers with a dreamy siren song. Towering over the altar is a 40-foot steel windmill which pumps a Victorian reed organ and two wood and metal pipe organs. Evoking the melancholic demise of the wind worshiping Aeolians, modern pilgrims can play three wind-powered keyboards, filling the restored chapel with the ephemeral sounds of yesterday. The Prairie Wind Chapel welcomes all wayfarers with its songs!


Rebecca Anders has deep sea visions that are coming to life with the Illumicanth. Walk up to and inside of this illuminated beast.

The Illumacanth is a massive fishy monster surging up from the ground, with mouth agape and brain alight. Its dark, deeply textured exterior surrounds a bright, reflective interior, into which one may venture through its toothy jaws. Elevated over its open head is a halo of silver bird-fish which dance and spin. Flame effects and undulating lights enliven this mysterious beast, and invite the participant to rest on its fins, gather inside, and sneak through its gills.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

View more articles by Caleb Kraft
Jess Hobbs

I have been called a Strategic thinker, Open communicator, Skilled negotiator, Experienced presenter, Excellent planner, Process oriented, Decision driver, Collaborative spirit, Great listener, Execution minded, Savvy, Highly accountable, Impact focused, Globally aware, Agile problem solver, and Bridge Builder.

View more articles by Jess Hobbs


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.