Burning Man goes Galactic (Adventures)

When the two of us were at Burning Man this past September, my then 13-year old son Campbell came up with an idea. He’d only just got his own computer, which he’d saved up for almost entirely so that he could have a platform on which to play Spore, and he figured that it would be cool to recreate the best of the Burning Man Art Cars in that hit youth application. I duly loaned him the diital camera for our week in the desert, so that he could photograph his chosen mutant vehicles, and in turn he bent my ear relentlessly on the hows, whys and wherefores of his intended project.

Well, it’s four months later, Galactic Adventures: Burning Man Art Cars 09 is finally completed, and I’m keen to share it with iJamming! readers like any proud father. I think it’s astonishing. I almost can’t believe that Campbell re-created so many vehicles so accurately, got them moving, rebuilt the Man and exploded it, and, hardest of all, set up a viable impression of Black Rock City without going through the process of installing thousands of tents and RVs. He’s also populated his world (created with the addition of Spore accessory Galactic Adventures) with humorous characters who don’t look too far removed from some of the more out-there humanoids we see in the Nevada Desert each summer! Congratulations son.

Galactic Adventures: Burning Man Art Cars 09 by 14-year old Campbell Fletcher. Click on “YouTube” logo to view in full size.

Though he gets most of his art skills from his mum (he certainly doesn’t get them from me), Campbell is a chip off the old block when it comes to fanciful new projects: he dreams up the most outlandish ideas possible, sets off on them with the best of intentions, gradually realizes he’s overstepped his limits, and, if allowed, chooses to leave them uncompleted, in part because he’s just had another equally fabulous idea to take the last one’s place. (I remember deciding once, as a child, to type out the London phone book – I may have got as far as AAA Autos before grasping the pointlessness of the task. I also once chose to transcribe the radio commentary of an England game, unintentionally perfect practice for a career where I am constantly transcribing badly syntaxed phone interviews.)

In his case, Campbell has intended all along to create a Galactic Adventures interactive Burning Man game, and I have no doubt it would be a winner if he would see it through; I in turn have had to convince him to complete the initial project – the recreation of the art cars – first. There was a point at which he attempted to back out (“you should know that kids keep themselves amused at Burning Man by thinking of all the wonderful things they could do if only they had their computers with them,” he explained, not dishonestly) and that was the point at which I decided on some rare fatherly insistence that he remained committed to his initial word. Over the Christmas Holidays, we finally saw it through. The choice of music, not surprisingly, is mine. I was amazed that YouTube was able to identify it and ban the video in Germany for copyright reasons within 15 minutes of our uploading it. But this is the digital age, and while we middle-aged adults often scratch our heads in disbelief, our children just take full advantage of its possibilities.

So, please take time out to watch the video, please offer your ratings and comments at YouTube if you have an account, and please feel free to share the URL or this post. (Note the “Share This” option at the end of each iJamming! Post.) And yes, Campbell is absolutely available for commissions; he still has half the cost of his computer to pay off! Cheers and happy new year.

Tony and Campbell aboard the Walking Beast at Burning Man 09. More Burning Man at iJamming!

See Campbell’s directorial debut, for “Playin’ Possum” by Uncle Rock, here.

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