The Vitruvian WheelyMan kinetic pendant is our project at Burning Man. It has become one of the most prized gifts; sometimes called 'Burning Man schwag'. Each year we update this cast metal pendant to reflect the theme and year it was gifted. While attending the Burning Man festival we endeavor to find artists, performers and makers whom we consider 'core contributors that are dedicated via their participation in an amazing creative process that is the essence of Burning Man. These high level participants are first on our list to be gifted with a WheelyMan pendant.
The WheelyMan project is a collaboration between long time friends and creative colleagues, Les Seymour and Nelson Giesecke. Nelson Giesecke is founder and owner of Object Design Studio, objectdesignstudio.com in Denver, Colorado.
Based on Leonardo DaVinci's Vitruvian Man drawing the WheelyMan pendant is comprised of three parts; the body and wheel are cast in pewter with a bronze axle. DaVinci's drawing attempts to illustrate the divinity of human form via idealized proportion inscribed within a circle and square. Our WheelyMan pendant rides on a turning wheel in keeping with the 'cultural mobility' of Burning Man and the citizens of Black Rock City. The WheelyMan kinetic pendant in all it's iterations was feature published in last year's Jewelry of Burning Man by Karen Christians, karenchristians.com.
Burning Man is often called a 'counter culture event' or some kind of 'gathering'. It is, (in fact) a gathering of what culture is made of; with art, performance, science, creativity and ingenuity at it's core.
It has been said that Burning Man functions as a gift economy. The term 'gift economy' is by definition conflicted. An economy is defined more by 'exchange' and gifting is not. Commercialization and commodification have corrupted our concept of gifting in this world of corporate retail growth. When consumerism and commodification are removed, humans relate to one another in more creative and profound ways. When people help each other creatively then this becomes the 'currency' and amazing things happen. Maybe the term 'idea economy' would be a closer description for Burning Man. Virtually all of the art projects, performances, theater, art cars and installations are 'gifted' at Burning Man. Grants awarded to artists only partially support their projects; the rest is gifted as is most of the infrastructure, (by volunteers) who build Black Rock City. Burning Man is truly a place where magic is real.