Zooplankton: The Lifecycle of Art, and A Few Tears

It’s been a long almost-year for the Zooplankton project. There were so many times we thought we’d have to give up, times when we were blindsided by obstacles and betrayals, times we were so tired and defeated. Why do we go through all of this for a silly piece of art? It’s hard to explain. I can say now, today, as I sit here in my house as the Zooplanktyon crew is off in the desert (A former friend betrayed us, it’s a long story, but their slimy actions are the reason I could not go to Burning Man this year after working so hard on our project) that I feel that it was all worthwhile.

Even though it’s in the middle of godawful nowhere, Burning Man has cell reception, and every so often I’ve been getting updates from Becca, my friend and the creator of Zooplankton. She managed to text me a photo of the structure as soon as it was all assembled (we had to cut it into multiple peices to fit it on the trailer for transport), and as luck would have it, build day also happened to be the day of some of the worst dust storms anyone has seen out there. Hi Becca! Don’t forget your dust mask!! Heheh.


And a few nights ago, at long last, I got a message and finally got to see our big spiky baby all lit up. it’s so beautiful. The tall pointed spire on top was supposed to light up as well, but apparently something was damaged in transit. But it’s alright, what matters is a whole team of people came together, busted their butts, and made something strange and wonderful to share with thousands of strangers in a dead, empty desert. From what I hear people are loving our little beast, and that’s what it’s all about.

And tonight, Thursday, at midnight, our Electronics Lead Tony will remove all the spikes and wires and control boards, and Zooplankton will burn. I’m sad that I will miss that part. The burning of your art is such a moving and cleansing ritual. Saying goodbye to all the stress and worry, goodbye to the heartache and frustration, and reminding ourselves that nothing, no matter how much you love it, can live forever. Reminding ourselves that it’s okay to say goodbye, and move on.


2 comments on “Zooplankton: The Lifecycle of Art, and A Few Tears

  1. rangewriter says:

    I’m sorry but this seems weird on so many levels. First of all, I find it incredible that a whole herd of artists, with their individuality and creativity spiked into high gear, can ever cooperate for such a long time on a project like this. I’m glad you got it finished, despite some not nice players in the group. The other thing that is surreal to me is to rejoice at the destruction of such a beautiful creation. It’s great, really. That is really living in the moment and letting go of control. But boy, I could never do it.

    • Its okay, not everyone understands, and not everyone has to. We all see the world in our own way. We do burn our art to celebrate impermanence, yes, but theres also a practical side to it: Whrre on earth would we store all this stuff?? There are a lucky few artusts who have their installations purchased by museums or parks and put on display, but for the 99.9% of the rest of us theres really no way we can afford to store our pieces, no public place we would be allowed to leave them, no budget to maintain and preserve them.

      Even though theres some sadness in seeing all our work burn, there’s also some joy. In part because we live flames and the right of purification, but also because then we can say “Oh man, thank goodness THAT’S out if the way. Whew!”


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