A change of wristbands – from “Nowhere 2014” to “I,Robot 2018”

As I am changing a wristband on my right hand, I also reflect about the bigger picture about me an participatory culture. As I am writing these lines, I am still wearing the wristband of the participatory temporary city “Nowhere 2014” on my right hand. As I have been for the last 1632 days since July 5th 2014. I am moving to an “I, Robot 2018” wristband by Severin Taranko. Both remind me that I am part of a global participatory culture where such small things represent and reflect the meaning of everything.

First let’s look at the beauty:

It is a woven fabric band, the design is embroided. It still reads “Nowhere 2014” and features crazy heads. The fabric is worn out, but it still holds fast.

At this point a big thanks to to the volunteers who designed the wristband, financed it, ordered its fabrication, carried it into the Spanish desert, the Grumpy Catz Gate team who greeted me and handed the wristband over to me: you rock! Your decisions worked, see how your wristband still exists and influences me.

Why did I not take it off right after the event but kept wearing it until today?

I love participatory culture. I love to contribute something, to interact with others, to create awesome and joy-bringing things together.  Nowhere is exactly that: a temporary community meeting for a week to create a surreal city in the desert of Spain. It is connected to the global “Burning Man Regional Network“, a network of people creating such participatory surreal spaces. A network where I am part of, I joined it to volunteer as “Regional Contact” for Burning Man in Austria.

For me, participating at Nowhere 2014 meant

  • being part of the Drunken Sobriety Cabaret, a camp (barrio), a temporary group of collaborators who were connected in the vision to create a cabaret in the Spanish desert to give international artists a stage there.
  • assembling a geodesic dome, something I never did before, and loved doing a lot, as Buckminster Fuller’s work is very helpful
  • protecting myself physically and mentally to survive sand storms in a shitty tent
  • organizing a tapesculpture workshop to let dozens of people create wondrous art
  • a chance to spend a week with friends from the Austrian Burner community to learn to better cooperate with them
  • meeting new people from whom I learned a lot
  • a holiday with my lovely wife Ingrid
  • coming back to a space I experienced before in Nowhere 2008, when it still was about 300 people
  • learning by observation and experiencing how to organize a camp, how to build a festival, how to do rangering/security

For me, the experience of Nowhere 2014 didn’t stop when the city in the desert was taken down. It kept going. The vibe keeps ringing in my ears. That’s why I kept wearing the wristband.

  • From 2013 until today, I myself have been curating the artist collective “Salon Leobard“, an art salon that meets regularly to “tickle the artist within” and create art for Burning Man participatory festivals. I also co-organized multiple participatory festivals in Austria. I learned about camp structures from Drunken Sobriety at Nowhere 2014, as also from my camps Burning Man 2010 and Nowhere 2008.
  • When I am organizing a spreadsheet to calculate a budget for Salon Leobard or for a festival, I am building on how we did it with Drunken Sobriety Cabaret at Nowhere 2014. When I am working together with Austrian Burners, with many of them I share the experience of Nowhere 2014 and thus we know each other on a deep level, making collaboration easier.
  • During these 1632 days we at Salon Leobard have built the 15-Meter pirate ship “Miss Inspiration”, burned it, then built the “Hammock Reactor”, which we are still extending. Every nail I hammered in, every cut with my wood saw, every inch of welding metal together, my right hand was wearing the Nowhere 2014 wristband.
  • Every time I was building something crazy/dangerous/big/lovely/surreal, a glance on my right hand reassured me that “I can do that, I helped assemble a geodesic dome at Nowhere 2014”. Start small, take it from there.
  • Burning Man and participatory events and cacophony art interventions are not bound to a single festival or event, rather I experience this as a global sub-culture which is steadily working on creating surreal experiences that beautify the world.
  • When I am working, when I am in the highly optimized reality of working in a globally acting SaaS company, I am reminded of the surreal Burning Man part of this world. That I am both a SaaS person and a Burner, which connects me to the culture I share with so many of my peers in California.

At the Schloss Schönburn participatory event in Austria in September 2018 I met Severin Taranko. Severin runs www.ideenzoo.com and creates elaborate art pieces – wristbands. His current masterpiece is the “I, Robot” wristband created for Burning Man 2018 . As there is no official wristband at Burning Man, he kindly stepped in creating an art piece, telling a story, fabricating 500 of them, to finally give them away for free to beautify the world.

Therefore I am deeply happy to have been gifted, personally, an “I, Robot” wristband from Severin this year. Here it is:

When I am wearing it for the coming years, it will remind me that I am part of a global participatory culture who are happily working to make each others lives more surreal, beautiful, to gift each other a wonderful time.

Thank you, Severin! Bless you!

p.s. I am using a sheet bend knot to tie my wristbands, making them stay safe for years.