Second thoughts on how XyloVan can interact with Burning Man (updated)

Had a long talk with my infinitely wise wife and co-creator last night and maybe … just maybe … having XyloVan sited permanently somewhere on the playa would actually be better in some ways than getting a driving license.

More thoughts on this as they develop in my addled brain.

But for now, seek here’s my letter to the ARTery. We should have had a siting application in to them by July 1, but apparently you can apply at the event as well:

(UPDATE: my email bounced at – the very address they give on the site. Does anyone have a good contact email for the ARTery crew?)

Hey, folks:

After being denied a Mutant Vehicle license on Tuesday, I’d like to ask the ARTery team about getting our extraordinary interactive piece XyloVan sited on the playa.

Yes, I know it’s past the 7/1 online reg deadline, but I just found out about the DMV rejection on Tuesday, and I want to make sure we can secure a good spot for our project – an art car.

So – below is our DMV application (the ARTery form is no longer available online) and attached is a photo of XyloVan in its current form, augmented with a mockup of the sails/sun-shades we’ll be installing once we arrive.

Please disregard the safety and operation clauses since – obviously – we won’t be driving it around. However, we also wanted to ask you as early as possible for permission to simply move Xylovan back and forth – once a day – between our playa site and our camp in Kidsville …

Mutant Vehicle Name:

Plan Submission Method:

Mutant Vehicle URL:

Image Upload:

Previously on the Playa?:

Prior Mutant Vehicle:

Camp Information:

Day License:

Night License:

About the Vehicle’s Mutation:
XyloVan is a 1985 15-passenger Ford Club Wagon reborn as a rolling musical instrument. Hand-made concert-quality xylophones, tubular bells and disc gongs are mounted all over it at street level, and amplified, inviting pedestrians to walk up and PLAY THE VAN. We had hundreds of people hammering on this at Maker Faire in SF – made a glorious noise. Go check out the videos at The roof-rack will be converted into an 8-seat mobile
lounge, fitted with lights and extra metallophones.

Lighting Plans:
The xylophones and disc gongs are brightly polished aluminum. We’ll be mounting LED floods of various colors at a precise angle so that the light
bounces off the xylophones (which are set at a 45-degree angle) and directly into the eyes of anyone within 300 feet of it. Running lights will illuminate
the ladder and roof lounge, and we’ll have some glow tubes mounted beneath the vehicle so that it appears to float on a cloud of light.

Mutant Vehicle Intent:
Childlike wonder, timeless exploration, and spiritual connection with sound.

Everyone who has met the van so far – and that means everyone from the most cherubic (or hellion-like) toddler to the concert musicians and tribal
drummers who try it out – goes to an extremely intimate place while playing the van. This is no exaggeration. *Everyone*.

There’s something transformative about the connection between your hands and the keys – whether you’re trying to play Bach, the Flintstones theme or the
silly noise that surprises you when you whack it – that deeply affects everyone who plays it. It sucks you in.

When I first built the instruments and mounted them, I had no idea how people would react – and we’ve been delighted to see them return to the state of
childlike wonder that was (for me) the impetus to build the thing in the first place.

Imagine: You’re 2 years old, bored with blocks and stuffed animals. Someone plunks a little toy xylophone in front of you, hands you a stick, and tells
you to hit it. And then you do. And it makes a pretty noise. And you smile. And you hit it more and more, again and again, until the grown-ups tire of it
and take it away from you.

Only now the xylophone is eight feet long, it’s actually an enormous green van that drives up, and you’re walking around in your adult body on the playa.
When you hit it, it makes a LOUD pretty noise, augmented by digital-delay effects and whatever other crazy electronic instruments our fellow Burners
decide to plug into our mixer. And you smile. And hit it more and more, again again.

And you can play for as long as you like.

Street Legal:

Vehicle License Number:

State of License:

Vehicle Length:

Vehicle Width:

Vehicle Weight:

Frame Base:
Ford Club Wagon XLT

Frame Year:


Number of Trailers:


Number of Levels:
The roof deck is reached by means of a standard van ladder. On the roof will be mounted short beach chairs with their seats no more than about 3 inches
above the level of the deck. Visitors will be invited to the roof only if they appear sober. The vehicle will not be moved with anyone on the roof unless
they are fully seated in the chairs. In the case of children, no one under age 14 will be allowed on the roof without a parent, and any passengers must wear
safety belts installed in the chairs while XyloVan is in motion.

Sound System:

Sound System Wattage:


Standing Passengers:

Design Safety:
As described above, the roof deck is designed for use only when the vehicle is stationary, or when passengers are strapped down if it is moving. Wiring to
the lights and sound system is fully insulated and permanently mounted *away* from anywhere passengers may travel. The keyboards outer edges will be fully lit to ensure the vehicle’s width and length are fully obvious. A fire extinguisher is mounted just inside the rear door, as is a First Aid
kit.Flashlights will be carried by all 4 XyloVan crew members at all times. The ladder’s top and bottom steps will be fully illuminated.

Operating Procedures:
The vehicle was originally built as a 15-passenger van (plus we’re giving rides only to a few people at a time), so the total capacity of 15 (for
interior and roof) will never be exceeded. We’re going to be kind of dicks about that. The vehicle was meant to be played by lots of people, but only
ridden by good friends and special invitees (e.g. kids and parents from Kidsville). People who enter the vehicle will be made to first agree to the
XyloVan Rules. (see Enter/Exit procedures below)

Enter/Exit Procedures:
Once it’s parked, as many people as can fit around it will be invited to play the instruments, but no more than 8 people will be allowed at once on the roof
deck. They will be required to mount and dismount one at a time so that no more than one person is standing up at once.

The XyloVan Rules: 1) If you shouldn’t be driving, you can’t ride on the roof. If you go on the roof, you must first listen to and agree to the Rules of the
Roof: 2) If you are inside, we ride with the doors shut. 3) If riding the roof, you must mount one at a time, and immediately pick a seat, sit down and
buckle in. The van will not move until you are buckled in. 4)If you throw anything off the van you will be immediately ordered down and denied the right
to ride the van until next year. 5) If you drop anything off the van, immediately yell out “Stuff overboard!” and we’ll stop the van and retrieve it
for you. 6) If you need to pee (or worse) immediately yell out “Bathroom break please!” 7) You must remain buckled in until the van comes to a complete
stop.  If you need to dismount in a hurry for ANY reason, tough shit. YOU MUST REMAIN BUCKLED IN UNTIL THE VAN COMES TO A COMPLETE STOP. Just bang on the roof in this event and we’ll pull right over.


Flame Effects:


Listed on Burning Man Earth?:

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