The Tinkle Drum: A Burning Man Art Project

Apr 11, 2022 | Art, Burning Man, Community initiatives, ExCom, Sustainability

“This piece is about art and music being for—and by—all of us. Music can be created by everyone, it’s about sharing, participating, and creating together with what we have.” – Bibi Bliekndaal, The Tinkle Drum Project

Keen Kiwiburner and creative soul, Bibi Bliekndaal, is taking on her biggest art challenge yet – creating a large-scale, interactive sculpture for Burning Man. Her project idea, titled ‘The Tinkle Drum’, has received a Burning Man Honoraria art grant and has gained support from around the world from other Burners, avid creative-types, enthusiastic engineers, and environmental activists hailing from New Zealand, the Netherlands (Bibi’s temporary stomping ground), and the United States.

Regarding the inspiration for The Tinkle Drum, Bibi says, “A lone cello player practising in Westerpark inspired me while I was out running during lockdown, early 2021. I realised how I missed live music, the energy of people making and enjoying it together. I wanted to create something enabling people to make music together, to share a common goal and move towards it, no matter who they were or what they have.”

The Tinkle Drum project started as a barrel with a handle then turned into a giant drum that revolves when people walk together inside it, encouraging collaboration and movement. As the drum rotates, prongs which are mounted on the outer shell strike keys to make the music. At night it lights up as each note is struck—powered by solar energy and the people turning the drum. Nothing is needed to experience the work other than participation: gather others, step into the drum and take steps together. ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon is the default tune, but as it’s re-programmable, people can make their own compositions.

Tinkle Drum has outlined two sustainability focuses for 2022: reducing the art carbon transport emissions and reducing the embodied carbon with recycled art materials and efficient sourcing and human power! The GTCC Transport and Emissions team will apply BLAST CO2e models developed for last September’s MediMeisterschaften event, our own Kiwiburn, and for Waking Dreams, to The Tinkle Drum project effort. Their goal is to offer these models to other artists to help more Burners calculate their art CO2e impact.

Kiwiburners Andy Justice aka Beancounter (Chair ExCom) and Tim Barry aka Frog (Renewables for Artists Team, RAT) have been working with Bibi to collaborate on a Camp at BRC involving Green Kiwi, GTCC Sustainability Team members, RAT (including RAT’s other mentored art project teams), along with some of the sustainability team at the MediMeisterschaften event. This new sub-camp fits within The Friendly Village: a Village returning to Burning Man along with its other existing sub-camps including Academy of Arts and Sciences Camp (with their Bad Idea Bar) and Shotski. Aside from a plethora of artists and scientists, other campers within The Friendly Village include members of the Black Rock Orchestra and some Burlesque enthusiasts.

In addition to Andy and Tim’s contributions, a truckload of other Kiwiburners have stuck their hands up to be involved in the project and village, including Arts Facilitator Paul Gill, his partner Jodie Gill, Jasmin Wilkins (Burnable Arts), Cass Kenworthy and Yarin Snapir (Green Kiwi), and Natasha H’Ing (KB2022 Swag Lead). Of special note, KB’s Gveta Cook, who was a core admin and build crew member of Auckland Burner’s The Giant Weta project (2016 Burning Man Art Grant recipient), will be acting as an Advisor on The Tinkle Drum project.

Andy and Tim are aiming to be in Reno at the Generator (an art makerspace) from late July/early August collating materials and prepping for when The Tinkle Drum team arrives from Europe around August 7th to start construction.  They will be coordinating transport for the various art projects as well as Art and Theme Camps associated with RAT and The Friendly Society. Watch this space for more updates as the fun unfolds!

Excited about this project? Want to help make it happen? There is a plethora of ways to show your support right now!  

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