Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

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the Ephemerisle experience
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I just got back from Ephemerisle.  It was a large group of smart and passionate people thrown into a situation where they have very limited knowledge or experience and have to figure out how to work together to build a functioning floating village from an infrastructure, social, and organizational perspective.  Basically, it was everything I had hoped for.  It was beautiful, sublime, chaotic, messy, and full of potential for future years.  I talked to a guy named Danger Ranger, who was one of the original Burningman folks, and he said that the atmosphere at Ephemerisle reminds him a lot of the early years of Burningman, when everyone was figuring things out as they went along.

I was impressed at how well everything came together under the circumstances.  The platform building team was busting their ass all day and all night to get things ready for the event, and it more or less only came together on the final night.  (Note that it *was* a two night event)

All my art projects worked out perfectly.  The Ripple Theater actually worked even better than expected.  There was a nice unintended feature that as people danced on the platform next to the theater, it caused ripples that were in time to the beat of the music, which in turn caused the projected visuals to undulate to the beat of the music. 

As for the Achievement Lounge, only one person fell on the way over to it, but several fell on the way back after having a beer or two. 

The participants were very cool, and I'm sad that I was so busy setting up art that I only got to talk to a few of them. 

I'm going to do a much longer post with specific reactions, but for now, here are some pictures. 

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Big City Lazy Panorama (from the roof of Houseboat Row)

Ephemerisle 2009 Ephemerisle 2009

Ripple Theater stills:  Videos coming soon:
Ephemerisle 2009 - Ripple Theater Ephemerisle 2009 - Ripple Theater

Achievement Lounge Achievers:
Ephemerisle 2009 - Achievement lounge Ephemerisle 2009
Ephemerisle 2009 - Achievement lounge Ephemerisle 2009

My friend Holley dueled me on the Achievement Lounge beam while wearing heels and drinking beer.  Check out the perfect timing of the lightsaber self-destruction in the second photo.
Ephemerisle 2009 - Achievement lounge Ephemerisle 2009 - Achievement lounge

The beginning of Patri's ill-fated voyage.  (Actually, the vehicle worked fine aside from being very slow.  That's impressive for something that was never tested prior to the event)
Ephemerisle 2009 Ephemerisle 2009


Suburbia -- the big long row of houseboats:
Ephemerisle 2009 Ephemerisle 2009

One of the gypsy boats from Camp Tipsy.
Ephemerisle 2009

My third project... a R/C toy boat turned into a glowing squid creature:
Ephemerisle 2009

City at magic hour:
Ephemerisle 2009 Ephemerisle 2009

... and at night:
Ephemerisle 2009 by you.

I was impressed as hell by the people who slept on the flimsy poppable inflatables instead of in a houseboat.
Ephemerisle 2009

Check out the whole set on flickr.

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Looks like an awesome experiment which paid off dividends.

Will definitely try to make it next year/time :-)

I take it you had good weather? Throughout this whole thing I kept wondering what would happen if it really rained. :)

And also the squid thing looked great.

Thanks. That project was actually the least effort... maybe 6 hours of research and 4 of construction.

It did rain briefly. Freak east->west storm movement. I covered up all my electronics and then went back to dancing, even happier than before.

Very very cool, looks like it was a lot of fun! I think you stole the show with entertainment options.

Might be neat to adapt the ripple theater for Burning Man - use a shallow pool of water, a vibration source, and maybe add solid geometric shapes that can be moved around to see how they affect the ripples. You could also have different length rods in the water to see how well they resonate with the constant drumming bass. :)

...and during the day it could double as an evaporation pond! ;)

I like the evap pond idea :-)

The Achievement Lounge idea would also adapt pretty well.

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