Metropolis: The Life of Cities.
A part of the project involves a large discussion on urban planning, experiments in the interaction of ideal designs and the chaos of social life, models of social integration and disintegration and reflections on how particular organizations of space create forms of life. As a part of this larger project, the Burning Man project has started a blog, Metropol. The initial posts give a nice birds-eye-view of the history of the planning and development of Black Rock City across the nearly two decades of its existence. It will be interesting to see how that conversation develops.
The art theme calls attention to some of the things that I find most interesting about the Burning Man Project. Most people consider the city exclusively in terms of the sort of Bachannalian narratives that they have heard about it, where the project is equated with that of a "red light district." But this is a fairly uncritical account of the Project, and I am more interested in the history of BRC and its planning as the elaboration of an ongoing experiment in constructing a Temporary Autonomous Zone. Sure, there is now a ticket price to participate in this TAZ and it isn't cheap to make the journey to the middle of the desert. But these criticisms don't really take into account that any experiment in urban forms and social life requires material resources. The point isn't that BRC and its "gift economy" is some sort of post-capitalist utopia, but that it is a petri dish for experimentation in the material construction of another world. It produces a sort of technical knowledge which could be generalized under certain conditions.
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