Element 11:Hindsight 2020
“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”
– G.W.F. Hegel
Even when wholly submerged in the immediate experiences we aspire to create and enjoy, our histories represent the world-lines of the past which all draw to the mystical “Now”, knotting and looping together to form the rich tapestry of community. In many ways, the only direction we can see is behind us, our eyes blinded by the storm of chance thwarting our efforts to know what lay ahead with any certainty. Hindsight is a valuable tool in our speculation into the future, enabling us to draw inspiration for change from the successes and failures of past; examine the foundations we’ve collectively built our houses upon; and take measure of our trajectories and all the oscillations and disturbances that bend their paths. A healthy awareness of the past allows for the most powerful speculation on the future and bestows the tools with which we can steer our way into it
.“I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence.”
– Ansel Adams
The worldwide Burning Man community has its own history and traditions, rooted much more deeply in time than that fateful night on Baker Beach in 1986. Sometime around 1913, Marcel Duchamp coined the term “anti-art” to describe the avant-garde attacks on the orthodoxy of the time, as artists began to experiment with abstraction, cubist treatments of time, and collage assemblages. Dadaism arose shortly after bringing its absurdity, shock, and chaos loudly to the cultural centers of the world. This line continues through time to inspire the Spectacle of the Situationalists, loudly critiquing the consumerist society calcifying around them; Fluxus with their focus on performance and process over consumable product; the culture-jamming of San Francisco’s Suicide Club and Cacophony Society. All of these ideas mixed in the frenetic cultural milieu of previous decades and gave birth to Burning Man, a worthy heir to the rich legacy of avant-garde experimentation. These foundations were accounted for when Larry Harvey described (not prescribed!) our cultural identity in 2004 when he wrote the 10 Principles. Despite our long and rich lineage however, membership in this project is open to everyone. If you’re so lucky to be joining us for the first time, as the Cacophony Society likes to put it “You may already be a member.”
“For us, art is not an end in itself … but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.” – Hugo Ball
At Hindsight 2020, you are cordially invited to explore and reimagine the most inspiring moments and happenings of the past; to tell us a story with all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations of some pivotal juncture.
You’re invited to trace the lines from the past to our now, to create new moments utilizing the techniques and ideas we’ve inherited and to reinvent great ideas with the privileged knowledge and technology of the cutting edge.
You’re invited to speculate on the perspective of the future; to highlight the path which your hindsight has forecasted our destiny and to comment on the snapshot of our present as if from a buried time capsule.
However you interpret this year’s theme, now is the time to ignite your passion and leap confidently into the unknown, so that you might avoid the pitfalls of indecision and regret
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”
– Kurt Vonnegut