one-minute vacation
5+0^3#3^93: a luminous circle

5+0^3#3^93 is a proposed theme art project for Burning Man 2006. The artist is Bay Area resident and longtime Burner Aaron Ximm.

Find herein:

contact info
project summary
installation specifics
scope of work and cleanup
thematic relavance
artist's background

A note on illustration

RSI issues make documentary illustration difficult, but it will follow shortly.




contact information   

aaron ximm
179 elsie st
sf ca 94110

415.648.2327 home
415.637.5243 cell


project summary  

5+0^3#3^93 is a deep-playa installation consisting of an astronomically- accurate precise scale-accurate recreation of Stone Henge using discarded desktop computers in place of monolithic stones.

The ring of PCs will be illuminated at night with colored LED light (mostly or entirely solar powered, appropriate for an astronomical installation tied to annual solar progression through soltices and equinoces).

It is intended to interpret the theme of the Future — and specifically, with the idea that it may (hope) or may not (fear) be an improvement on the past — by suggesting that the future may promise nothing but a recapitulation of the past: and a somewhat diminished (optomistically, more humble) recapitulation at that.

The name captures the spirit of the project as a whole, transcribing the words 'Stone Henge' into computer hacker "leet speak," an intentionally obfuscational scheme that among other things uses character substitution based on coarse orthographic similarites: 5 for S, + for T, etc. The name is a direct transliteration of Stone Henge.

As currently conceived the project is not overtly interactive, but as with my past installation should offer a colorful and peaceful destination at night, and hopefully something to reflect about.



installation specifics



The henge installation proper comprises 20-30 desktop computers arranged in a simulacrum (corrected for lattitude) of the original Stone Henge. Computers will mostly be partly dismantled (open-sided) to reveal the components within to emphasize that their nature is essential to the piece (and not arbitrary).

Where the original Henge uses stones on the order of 13.5' arranged in a 108' diameter circle , the installation uses computers about 18' or so arranged in a circle some 12' in diameter (to scale).

The center of the circle will be occupied by an outward-facing cluster of 6-8 solar powered [green] LED floodlights, mounted low and so oriented as to illuminate the entire structure from within and cast shadows outward onto the playa.

Additionally, the current design is that each computer will be itself more dimly illuminate within with indirect (hidden) LED lighting. This interior lighting will probably require small battery packs; the current intent is to power those batteries with solar charges offsite (at camp). If it's feasible I would prefer to use solar-powering on-sight for this lighitng but I haven't found appropriate small-scale affordable arrays yet.


The primary 'ring' and outlying stones will be aout 12-15' in diameter. Stray 'stones' echoing notable outliers in the original Henge may be placed some 20-30' from the primary circle itself.

While the installation itself is small, the shadows cast by interior lighting should visually extend the perceived scale of the piece to some 50' diameter (estimated). This should impact placement.


Given its intention to be somewhat enigmatic and visually striking against the darkness (and a starfield), deep playa placement similar to that of my previous lantern-based installation is preferred.

Any placement at least 100-150' from any other light source would be workable however. If an in-circle placement is appropriate given the thematic nature of the piece that's workable.

My experience with on-site placement has been very positive so far.

The piece need not be mapped (appear on the participant map) but I'm fine of course with it being included if time permits.


scope of work and cleanup  

project team

As the installation is small it will like my previous ones require only the assistance of a few (2-4) dedicated helpers.

As in the past I hope to make some use of curious and willing passers-by, who in previous years have happily made significant contributions during (especially) construction.

The most labor-intensive portion of this project will be installation and removal/cleanup. The daily workload will be limited to an hour-long dusk visit to checking for and remedying any problems, and replacing rechargeable batteries and lighting the installation.

daily maintenance

As designed the installation will require as has been my habit a small team visit at dusk each night to verify the work's integrity and to swap batteries out and light the installation.

The ritual of a visit to the installation at dusk for 'lamplighting' has been a favorite experience of Burns since I began making installations.

cleanup and stewardship

All removable components within each computer will either be permanently fixed in place with glue, or removed, to ensure that moop is not a problem.

Computers themselves will be fixed in place with 2-3' rebar if there is any risk that they are light enough to move in the wind or tip over when examined; I'll bring enough rebar to anchor all computers just in case and idea zero will be to anchor each desktop. The hope is that this will not be necessary (if there is not risk of moop) as a free-standing structure would better echo the austerity of the original Henge.

Where computers touch they will be bolted together to form stable structures.

Unlike previous installations which used very modest open flame (candle lanterns) the current intention is that this one use no flame at all. As such a fire safety and clean up plan should not be necessary.

No holes or playa surface disruption other than modest depth rebar are anticipated. While the original Henge currently has some stones partially buried in the earth, the installation will make to with simply resting machines on their sides, so as to minimize playa surface disruption.

schedule for installation and removal

As .this installation is modest in scale, my small team should not need to arrive unusually early; at earliest I would anticipate arriving the Saturday night before Burn week and most likely on Sunday night prior.

The intention is that the piece be finished as early as possible and be illuminated for seven nights (if feasible).

Symmetrically, tear-down and restoration of the installation site to pristine condition should permit a departure on Monday evening or early Tuesday at the latest, possbly earlier.



thematic relevance


This piece works primarily at face value, as a simple marrying of an iconographic ancient monument (often seen at Burning Man in various mostly-humerous incarcnations) with the device that for most of us most encapsulates the transformed tenor of contemporary (and future) life.

While the self-evident nature of this juxtapaposition may seem to be a departure from my previous installations, which have typically encoded a 'hidden' ordering of seemingly disparate elements, I am pleased that just beneath the surface the participant encountering the work may recognize that the Henge structure itself is similarly almost prototypical of enigmatic arrangements of simple materials against a stark background.

I.e. while I have not encoded my own hidden meaning, the Henge itself is famous for doing just that (as among other things an astronomical clock for ancient rites presumably not dissimilar in all respects to Burning Man itself).

My intention with the installation is that once the Spinal Tap-scale humor subsides, the juxtaposition it represents does raise specific questions, such as:

  • Are we headed towards a new stone age (through our own short sightedness in terms of sustainability, aggression, and climate change)?
  • Was the original Henge the defining information capture/process/use technology of its epoch?
  • Is there a continuity between the relationship of our ancestors' relationship to the world through their technologies and ours?
  • Are we still beholden to the temporal order of our planet, or have we truly transcended it with our technologies; i.e. , how deeply encoded in our psyche is the passage of seasons and the seasonal rhythm?

I don't intend for the installation to be profound but those are the subtexts that make the project appealing to me, and some of them will be amplified if only conceptually by my hope to properly align the piece so as to be astronomically precise (or rather, now imprecise, in precisely the same way that the Henge itself is, after thousands of years of drift...).




artist's background  

I first attended Burning Man in 1995 and he have attended 10 of the 11 years since (I missed '96 traveling out of the country).

My wife and I were married by a sock puppet in the Sunbrothers' solar rose garden in 2000.

As a result of part attendance I am intimately familiar with the particular demands and rewards of creating art on the playa — and the need for meticulous planning and responsible stewardship.

From 2001 to 2004 I made other installations on the deep playa exploring the creation of a socially identifiable (and fragily beautiful) space out of minimal elements such as colored lantern light, rope, and bamboo.

These pieces were Kolam, a Luminous Mandala (2001), Sign of Light (2002), Insightment, a Luminous Prayer Wheel (2003), and M, Luminous Bodies (2004). Incidentally the 2003 piece was the location for friends' wedding.

I took 2005 off from installation-building and simply had a great Burn.

I have also done many small projects such as serving 'Black Rock Dessert' for many years to the Burn Night crowd and marching as the Cat Cat Dog Marching Band.

I've assisted friends in numerous projects including Larnie Fox's bamboo/canvas kite and windmill; Susan Robb's Golden Tower, Cross Dress for Less, and Jellyfish dinner-cabaret (You are my Zooplankton, Come Closer); and performances by Aaron's brother Scot Jenerik and F-Space.

I look forward to offering this installation to the City this year.