Art and the Psyche
Why Did We Do This?
The 2005 Burning Man theme was about The Psyche, and so is Playatech. If you think Playatech is about wood or comfortable seating, please consider some of the pseudo-artistic questions I asked the universe as this project spontaneously evolved in my psyche that year and now in yours:
Is this art masquerading as a company or a company masquerading as art?
Where do we draw the line between serious and spoof? Do we need one?
How many people will think we actually sell furniture?
Is it possible to blatantly promote a brand all over Burning Man and be thanked for it instead of scolded? Can we create a brand as art?
Will people really donate to BRAF or other radically participative causes like we ask? If so, can we get every non-burner RV owner and festival attendee in the country to support our art because these seats kick butt?
Can production be performance art? Did we really choreograph a Factory Dance with plywood partners?
Can an art project spawn enough art projects to create a physical art installation that exists in more places on the playa than anyone can count merely by triggering psyches on the Internet, without actually building or organizing the installation? If so, would anyone curate it? How?
If a photographer creates a coffee table book called “Love Seats of the Desert” out of this, will they give us a copy without payment of a royalty?
Will anyone get that you can transform people at Burning Man through art, fire and community just by cutting up four sheets of plywood and a discarded oil drum?
Can we really turn a piece of ridiculous plywood furniture into a mass-producible mutant vehicle that collapses to ship in an RV, seats 6, snuggles 4, sleeps 2, and is 98% wood for easy burning?
Will aggressive marketing and PR techniques be considered artistic media if used for purposes beyond self-serving commercial persuasion?
If this is art, would you classify it as “Corporart”, or “Artrepreneurship”, or?
Can art be patentable?
Is there any predicting what happens when you take an artistic idea and invite everyone to participate creatively in its realization? Is that notion near the heart of that indefinable thing we call playa art?
Will we dynamite, incinerate, or otherwise annihilate our Playatech furniture in the intended manner, or will we cling to silly slats of dusty plywood as prized possessions even after The Psyche cleanses our psyches?
Do we build a city in the desert from wood, metal, fabric, rope, lights, and fire, or is it really a castle in the air held up by dreams, fantasy, creativity, and other intellectual capital?
I think, therefore I am – does it follow that if I thought about everyone building these things, you are? Do you even need to now? If we come, will they build it?
If I had intentionally set out to come up with the perfect art project for celebrating my 20th reunion from business school in mid-2005, could my conscious have ever come up with something more perfectly out-of-the-box than my subconscious did?
If you know absolutely nothing about a topic (say art), is it easier to do something radically different because there are no boxes in your psyche to escape from?
I have no good answers today, and there can only be more questions than answers tomorrow. So here’s a question for you – before you do another thing, won’t you ask yourself some questions about your Burning Man experience this year, and where it will really come from? After all, everything that matters happens in your psyche, and your psyche is all in your head.