The genius of burning man, its extravagant ability to enrich and open human consciousness, lies in the extraordinary human creativity and connection for which it is the crucible.
We believe that, far from being atrophied, this creativity and human connection can be substantially amplified and diversified in the online context, and that it is possible for us to co-create an online burning man together that expressed
Spatially centralised (“IRL”) burns of course bring an intensity of presence and embodied quality of connection, but the key thing to realise that the online burn is no less real: like the spatially centralised version, it contains real people, real consciousness, real bodies, real connections, real soul-expansion.
But unlike the spatially centralised version that takes place in the Nevadan desert, all this reality is scattered across the globe in the spatially decentralised version. Realising this helps us see the incredible opportunities offered up by the format.
At our first edition, in 2020, we glimpsed four ways in which the online burn created experiences that went beyond and magnified the magnificence present in the spatially centralised version at Black Rock City. These form the bedrock of our co-creation Manifesto for SparkleVerse.
Diversity of spaces
In SparkleVerse’s first edition in 2020, some of the most thrilling experiences would be when as one moved around the digital Playa one had the experience of teleporting like a cosmic pingpong ball to all corners of the planet…
Dance performances where a sequence of dancers came in from Hawaii, Berlin, LA, South Africa, one after the next in short order. Or passing between spaces, hopping from a pumping South-American dance party, to a mellow enchanted tent in India with three women playing Sitars; to the sight of a mermaid in the actual Californian ocean, to a space showing the Australian sunrise as the sun set in England, into the museum of consciousness (whose spaces were not physical, yet spaces all the same!).
The thrill of this, difficult to describe! The sense of astonishment that one can be in the presence of anyone in the world, that one can be in the presence of any space in the world.
This is at its most magical when the actual spaces people are in are brought to life and made visible through the camera, so that the experience is of portalling to other worlds, other places, other architectures.
Ergo: we wish to leverage the accessibility of real and theatrical spaces to create the most spatially diverse Burning Man possible.
Let’s collaborate in bringing the widest diversity of spaces, real and imaginary (after all, what is the difference?) into the SparkleVerse. Let’s co-create a SparkleVerse that includes the real Acropolis, Perspolis. Narnia; a Welsh glade, The North Pole, dawn at . Your bedroom. Burning Man has always been a tissue of spaces of consciousness, let’s take this to the next level.
Diversity of bodies
Burning Man is a physically demanding place to navigate. That’s part of the thrill: that it extends our bodies as well as our minds to the ultimate extent, and we encounter as if originally thirst, hunger, exhaustion- and so come into communion with the magnificence of our embodiment.
But it’s inherently challenging to visit the IRL Playa when one is physically, perceptually or mentally disabled- or indeed, if one just hates dust.
At SparkleVerse 2020, some of the highlights were a Blind Burners camp, where the bliund and partially sighted community were able to join the burn; or paraplegic and non-verbal people dancing and talking in all the same burner spaces. This was of course joyful for everyone involved, not just for those with diversity of embodiment- there was a tremendous sense of love and relief to be able to connect across such fickle bodily barriers.
Ergo: SparkleVerse will be the most extravagantly Accessible Burn in history.
Let’s co-create a space where the blind, the deaf, the disabled, those challenged in any way can participate and co-create to the fullest extent. Let’s weave burning man’s magical web through the whole glorious diversity of human bodies.
Diversity of origins
In recordings of his “Live in London” concert, you can at one point hear Leonard Cohen wryly remarking how “I know that you have all undergone some financial and geographic inconvenience to make it here… so thanks for that”.
One could look out upon the spatially centralised burn and say the same with bells on: and the community as a whole suffers from the geographical and financial filters the Playa’s nature places on its participants- very limiting!
Some of the most joyful moments from last year’s SparkleVerse were meeting, for example, a Japanese Couple at their first burn. Their excitement and amazement in being able to participate, in being able to immerse in the values of this extraordinary festival.
Rarely will the wandering IRL burner have the pleasure of co-experiencing the magic of the burn with a SubSaharan African, South-American, Russian, Asian, Welsh person. One is more likely to meet a Facebook engineer than a cobbler. The online burn allows us to release ourselves from these shackles, and achieve true diversity of participation.
Ergo: Let’s co-create a SparkleVerse that’s the most extravagantly international Burn in history.
We call on our community to bring people from every corner of the globe, and all walks of life. To foster, inspire and educate a critical mass of virgin burners from across the globe to make this a truly international, truly inclusive jamboree, so that everyone can enjoy the explosively generative possibilities of consciousness that emerge.
Our Vision for SparkleVerse Online Burn 2021
Burning Man is a set of values, a mindset and a philosophy of being much more than it is a gathering of humans at a particular point in spacetime.
The online format provides for the first time in history the possibility of an emphatically diverse burn, and this we believe is the proper and inevitable expression of burning man’s core values.
So our manifesto for SparkleVerse the Online Burn is simply this, in a nut-shell:
“Let’s co-create the SparkleVerse as the most creative burn in history: by co-creating a world with the greatest possible variety of spaces, ideas, people, bodies, and nationalities that we can possibly muster”.
We can take inspiration from the poet John Milton, describing how spatially non-specific beings have untold creative powers:
“Spirits when they please can either sex assume so soft and uncompounded is their essence pure, not manacled by joint or limb, nor by the brittle strength of bones, but in what shape they choose, dilated or condensed, can execute their airy purposes and works of love or enmity fulfil”
But let’s err on the side of love, got it?