The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.
The event is open to public for 8 days. It begins on the last Monday in August and ends on the day of the American Labor Day holiday (the first Monday in September). It opens on the Monday of the week before, at 12 AM (00:00). Some organized volunteers, however, arrive a few weeks in advance to prepare the infrastructure of Black Rock City, the temporary city created by Burning Man participants in what is flat high elevation desert before and after the event.
It's not often one sees a giant octopus bursting out of an ancient lakebed! Built for Burning Man 2002, this octopus was known as "Creature of the Deep" by the Madagascar Institute. Madagascar built the climbable sculpture in two weeks onsite in the desert, using four tons of steel, a half-mile of rebar, and an acre of agriculture netting. At night, the octopus glowed with theatrical lighting and bursts of flamethrowers. With support from Black Rock Arts and the Society for Experimental Art and Learning.
Also seen at Burning Man 2002 was The Octopus Car by Scott Kildall. The Octopus Car performed a musical fire show. Each tentacle released quick bursts of flames in rapid sequence, which created a percussive beat. By adjusting the tempo and the pitch of the beat the operator became, essentially, a propane DJ, responding to the energy and enthusiasm of a quickly-gathering audience.
A unique aspect of this piece was the formation of the sound: each beat was created by an explosion of propane at the mouth of a steel pipe. By electronically specifying the amount of propane in each explosion, the musical controller created varying tones, accompanied by a fireball, which added a visceral visual appeal to the overall effect.
The following photos are a collection of various octopuses seen over the years at Burning Man...