My interview with Big Tree:
How did you end up going to Burning Man?
I didn’t plan it. I’d been working at Nihiwatu Resort - Sumba Island Indonesia - one of my favourite places on earth, here I was capturing all the beauty which commenced. Mark Pincus was hosting a extravagant birthday party at Nihiwatu for a week. At the final he rented the mesmerising treehouse were they had fireworks, a big bonfire, lots of tapas and cocktails, a big open dancefloor with traditional Sumbanese dancing with the sea crashing against the rocks. It was beautiful. Mark invited everyone to this event, he said ‘we want everyone to come to the party, even the people who are working, we want to celebrate as one’.
Throughout the night I met a variety of interesting beautiful beings, one of them was a gentlemen called David, also known as - Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, that’s what his player name is at burning man. He was in a pink and purple big jacket, pink trousers and crazy glasses - stuck out like a sore thumb from everyone else in their suits. Before I met him I was speaking to his friend about videographing, he stopped me excitedly and announced ‘you’re going to love my friend David!, you must meet him now!’, as we started to connect we realised we had a similar out-look on life, as our conversation blossomed I soon learnt to know that he is the mayor at one of the oldest camps at Burning Man, it’s been there for maybe like 16 years. I was very intriged by the thought of attending/contributing to Burning Man but I decided not to push & let the universe decided with it what it would like to do. It is strange though as i've felt like I’d had a calling to go to America from the beginning of the year - around March 2016. I didn’t know what this drag, energy or source was that was pulling me there. I told him about I am a passionate photographer and a DJ, we spoke about my life, and the fact I’m from Glastonbury - the mother hen of all festivals, they loved this concept. By the end of the night Bacchus was telling me ‘you're going to be at burning man, you have to be there’ I took his words with a pinch of salt, I didn’t want to raise my hopes too much.. I will just see what manifests on it's own accord. The next morning I went down to the lobby to wave farwell to the happy but hungover beautiful beings, I met him with a hug and exchanged business cards. I went straight back to my hut feeling content and blessed to be in such a beautiful place, I emailed him wishing him a safe journey without mentioning Burning Man, I wanted to leave the option up to him with no pressure. He replied with inviting me to join the amazing family at Disorient, capturing his Art Instillation - Play N Play and DJ at the almighty Dome. I was completely over the moon that someone believe in me that much that they would support me to go to the phenomena that is Burning Man, I’m actually tearing up thinking about it. I never expected someone to have so much faith in me. Especially when he only met me for one night.
Before you went, what your impressions?
I didn’t want to have any expectations. I like to go into situation's feeling optimistic as I feel good things come to those who are positive. I had read lots of blogs, poems, experiences and watched videos on Burning Man, there is a over whelming amount if different opinions, I compartmentalise from them and went in with a pure and clear mind set, I wanted to experience it to the full with just my own intentions.
Disorient are one of the oldest camps, they have a chillout area, a big dome with a DJ, they have a set colour which is ‘porange’ so everyone is wearing pink and orange everywhere, there’s lots of RV’s, people camping, there are yoga classes every morning and big communal dinners were anyone can join. There was a mesmerising wedding with the The sound engineer and his wife to be, it was truly magical, the porange sky came live!
What was your first impression?
I flew into San Fran, got picked up by Bacchus and the amazing Light!, we went to David’s house and had a wholesome avocado sandwich which was exactly what I need after a long flight! We drove from SF, over the golden gate bridge listening to a variety of awesome radio stations, getting us in the mood for a 6 hour journey. I love statile radio - station's dedicated to reggae, station dedicated to the rolling stones - it was great! The whole journey was incredible scenic, beautiful rolling sand dunes, turquoise lakes, intriguing abounded villages, happy locals, organic food and funny casinos.
We got there in raging sandstorm, burning man style. Our car was covered in sand, absolutely drenched. I stood outside to stretch my legs and inhaled a exhilarating exciting breath of fresh air, it felt like it enlightened. We got to the main gate, there is a tradition for newbies. I had to hit the gong 5 times, do sand angels on both ways, instantly covered in playa dust, it felt like I was part of the earth already. As we drove to our spot, our RV was already there, me and Light decorated the RV with love. David had collected a variety of disorient memorabilia over the years which we used to make the RV look like a humble abode. It was like super glamping, I’ve never slept so well at a festival in my whole life. It was amazing to actually have a shower. I am extremely appreciative of David for letting me stay in the spare bed in his RV for two weeks. I couldn’t have done it without him.
BURNING MAN - A LARGE PART ABOUT ART
Art brings people together. You become such close family even though you’ve only just met. I believe a big partof festivals or events is coming together and accepting each other for who you are and supporting one another. By expressing one another it helps to inspires people to release, truly root into their selves, appreciate and see things in different perspectives. Or just appreciate the pure beauty and workmanship that’s gone into it.
One of my favourite art instillation' was a beautiful open dome with inter changing, sound activating LED balls that were creating incredible pattern which made the ceiling. It was a intimate space with talented beautiful live musicians, it was extremely heartwarming. Cuddle Puddle galore.
Burning Man is very famous for their art-cars. They travel miles around site, some as big as a 3 story house, others as big as a few bikes - shooting pyro, bubbles and all sort out of it. You can join art cars by easily jumping on and off. You are entering the unknown as you never know were you will end up.
I believe Burning Man's ethos is to treat people how you would like to be treated. I love how there is no currency policy so everything is giving giving giving which is really beautiful. I had life saving experience, I had been cycling for an hour in crazy sandstorm, I had no idea were I was! - I couldn't see half a foot in front of me, I’d ran out of water an hour ago and I was extremely hungry. Out the corner of my eye I could see a tiny little stall in the middle of nowhere, I shouted out-loud ‘OMG people! Thank you Burning Man’. I was on the edge of crying so I was very thankful to have found these lovely people. They filled me up with water and dried mango and sent me on my way with a shot of tequila! In times of need, magical things seem to save us!
It can be a very intense place, lots of high energies. I think spending two weeks there for my first time was very brave… I spoke to people and they were very surprised that I had dedicated myself for that long. I am very thankful I did thought as I learn't so much and met so many incredible beings. Everybody I met was very loving, super friendly, & happy to welcome me into their crew… I was on my own for quite alot of my journey as it just seems to be the way of being photographer and videographer. I made lots of friends but I would get itchy feet quite easily, eager to explore and capture. This would mean I isolated myself in some situations, excited to get the next shot.
Plug and play?
This was the art installation which I had the absolute pleasure to capture. It is the 5 elements of hip hop, breakdancing, bboy, graffiti, dj and MC. We had inspiring artists whom were very down to earth that created these pieces of art that represented each elements, they were in boxes, with a plug at the end. We ran DJing and scratching lessons, talks with inspiration artists (Chali 2na), learning about the origin of hip hop and jam out sessions.
Chali 2na talk was so un-believable humble, he honestly went down to he core of his soul and opened him selves up completely. Every night we would dance and celebrated listening to scratching and hip hop. On the Friday night we let go off Plug N Play by burning the beautiful structure which everyone had put so much love and work into, it’s all about letting go. It was very heart warming watching the structure go up in flames, smoke tornados, holding hands, love, unity.
I saw a guy parachuting out of the sky through a sand storm, excitedly I cycled over to him, hoping I would capture a picture of him in time. After I got some images of him I said ‘that must be the most amazing feeling in the world, seeing burning man in bird's eye view, I always have dreams of flying..oh what a dream that would be!’. To my suprise he said, ‘Actually i've got a spare ticket, its all sold out but you can have it if you want it’, I was over whelmed with gratitude. I gave him a backy back to his camp were he gave me a ticket and said enjoy! I got the incredible experience to be the co-pilot, its crazy having that much control at your fingers tips! & super beautiful getting a birds eye view of Burningman and the surrounding areas.. nature, Thank you to the very kind sky diver who gifted me this opportunity! <3
The 2 weeks at Burning Man have been unimaginable on the profound, magical Playa. It was such a pleasure being part of the beautiful, incredible Plug 4 family & documenting the intriguing process of Plug N Play. Watching the plug transform into fire flies was extremely heart warming.. appreciate what you’ve got. Thank you to the gorgeous Disorient crew for making me feel at home and thank you for welcoming me to play on the sexy pornj dome!..I feel very appreciative to have played on your lovely set up with such wonderful people. OoooOooBurning Man..I’ve never found such an alluring place. Authentic, pure beings with a protective pulse of mother earth thumping through the city. An extraordinary place, grinding down to the pure core, learning, loving, and growing more radiant everyday. <3