Bringing art to Kiwiburn from across the ocean

Jul 30, 2017 | Art, Grants

Photo of Shadows by Peter Jennings

In 2017, a group of artists from Seattle applied for an Art Grant and brought their interactive light and sound sculpture, Shadows, to Kiwiburn. An equilateral triangle (2.5m sides) suspended, point down. The edges of the triangle were illuminated with high-density, addressable LEDs. Each corner of the triangle contained an ultrasound range finder, allowing triangulation of an object (i.e. a participant’s arm) within the triangle’s plane. Light and sound were responsive to the participant’s location and movements, animating the sculpture.


by Mike Dodds

Thanks for an opportunity to reflect on my experience as a granted artist at Kiwiburn 2017. A little background on me and the group of talented artists and engineers that I work with. We’ve been involved in producing art for Burning Man and adjacent events for seven years or so – Arborealis, Lake Lahontan Point, Simon Fire Edition 2.0, Nozomi, Ablation Cascade, to name a few. We’re not professional artists, so let’s get that out of the way. We’re a collection of engineers, scientists, software jockeys, graphic designers (so I lied; this subset are professional artists). We have day jobs, busy lives, and what training we have in the area of art production is quite informal (excepting our graphical designers).  Every project we do is a learning exercise. We’re constantly taking (calculated) risks and pushing ourselves to try something new.

Consider bringing a project (however modest) to Kiwiburn. How did we end up getting an Honoraria grant for Burning Man? Well, we worked on projects and built our portfolio over time at regional and local events. Start small, get help, deliver. Get help from Kiwiburn’s experienced Kiwiburn Arts Committee (KAC). This group wants you to succeed; they like seeing art at events just like you do. There’s no magic here, no shady cabal of artistes plotting in dark rooms. 

We’ve worked with local groups, regional events, for-profit producers, municipal event coordinators and others. I can tell you that the KAC is solid, responsive, and supportive. We had significant logistical issues coming from the States, and the Art Grant group went to great lengths to support us. If you’re coming from Wellington, that’s a lot easier! 

So, in closing: take a risk, put yourself out there, make art. Talk to the KAC; they sincerely want to help you bring art to Kiwiburn.


Thanks for all your insights Mike!

We hope this inspires you to make art. Keen to make art? Read about Kiwiburn’s Art Grants here.


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