Category Archives: Burner events

Burning Man 2014 Mutant Vehicle application – submitted!

Thanks again to all our fantastic Indiegogo supporters for making this application possible. Stay tuned for updates!

Mutant Vehicle Name
Mutant Short Vehicle Description
A rolling ballroom ceiling with amplified xylophones and gongs for everyone to play

Mutant Vehicle URL

Previously on the Playa?

Years at Burning Man

Previous Mutant Vehicle Names
Full day/night DMV permit in 2011 as “Janus” – the double-headed player piano

Prior Mutant Vehicle

Prior Mutant Vehicle Information
ARTery placed XyloVan as a playa installation in 2010. We earned full DMV privileges in 2011. In 2012, the vehicle remained unmutated, parked in camp at Swing City, but fully interactive.

Other Mutant Vehicles Created?

Camp Information
Swing City

Day License

Night License

About the Vehicles Mutation
Xylovan (a successful and much-loved veteran of the playa and Los Angeles regional events for the past 4 years) is fitted with amplified 8-foot-long xylphones and an array of other instruments and gongs that invite people to play music with each other. For 2014, we are transforming it into “The Light Fandango” – a roving ballroom ceiling – by shrouding it entirely in backlit, translucent, billowing fabric suspended from a round armature and hung with brightly-lit brass-tone chandeliers. People will be able to climb atop the ceiling (the vehicle’s roof) and ride 10 at a time aboard a rooftop observation deck fitted with a variety of gongs and percussion instruments to play while in motion or they can jam with those and the ground-level xylophones and other instruments when it is stopped.

Lighting Plans
The vehicle’s translucent fabric shell will be radically illuminated from within by THREE 360-degree arrays of controllable RGB LED strips (at the crown, midpoint and base of the skin) and by RGB arrays casting light on the playa beneath the vehicle. Additionally we will mount 8-10 yard-sale chandeliers around the crown of the vehicle, lit with the brightest white LEDs available, to cast light on the outside of the vehicle, and on the people and playa below. The effect will be a traveling pool of light piloted by a thousand pinpoints of white light all the way around the vehicle. Think the Duke of New York’s cadillac – only much, much, MUCH brighter and friendlier.

Mutant Vehicle Intent
XyloVan has given thousands of people at Burning Man and beyond an extraordinary experience exploring the music within themselves. On-playa, people constantly mob the van when it’s stopped and flag us down and beg us to stop when we’re moving so they have a chance to play the instruments. We want to extend this, through this mutation design – so that we can bring this experience to people all over the playa, as well as transporting people who want to join the roving party and jump into the spontaneous jams that pop up whenever we stop. We created this specific design with Caravansary in mind – to bring the experience of a nomadic, interactive, moveable musical feast to every single person we can reach on-playa. To see in greater detail what we have planned, please take a look at our Indiegogo video (about 5 mins):

Street Legal

Vehicle License Number

State of license

Vehicle Length
30′ 6″ (with mutation deployed)

Vehicle Width
22′ 0″ (with mutation deployed)

Vehicle Height
12′ 0″ (with mutation deployed)

Frame Base
Ford ClubWagon XLT (Econoline 350)

Frame Year


Art Tours

Art Tour Contact Info

Number of Trailers


Trailer Description


Level Description
The base vehicle accommodates up to 8 passengers. The rooftop deck – reached by means of a well-lit, bolted-on ladder – carries 10 to 12 more, and is surrounded by a sturdy, 4’6″ steel guardrail with vertical bars that prevent someone from falling to the ground below.

Sound System

Sound System Wattage

How big is your system?
Normal car stereo or Average living room (under 90 db at 30 ft)

Sound System Description
Pressure-zone microphones gather sound from the three large xylophones on the vehicle’s flanks, feeding it to a digital-delay mixer, which in turn sends the signal to a 200W Kickr amp. The amp feeds a living-room-grade (small) subwoofer and four bookshelf speakers, which point out over open playa so as to avoid feeding back to the mikes below.

Sound Impact Remediation
The mixer is mounted right next to the driver’s seat so volume can be controlled instantly by the driver. We always turn volume down when approaching the temple or quiet areas of the playa, when driving in streets after midnight or before 9 a.m., and we and remain constantly sensitive to people’s requests to moderate the volume. The feedback problem tends to force us to keep the volume at living-room levels anyway. 😉


Standing Passengers

Design Safety
The armature is fully bolted to the guardrail, which is bolted to the rooftop cargo rack, which is in turn bolted to the vehicle itself. We have had large men lunge at the rail repeatedly trying to break it, and it holds up perfectly. The chandeliers will be hung above 7 feet, and safety-cabled as well as clipped to hardware fittings in the armature. All wiring and cables are run through conduits well out of the way of passengers. We limit the rooftop to 10 people (or 12 when stationary) and keep an overall vehicle-population balance within limits of the vehicle’s originally designed capacity as a 15-passenger van. Our operating procedures (described below) prohibit people who are too inebriated from boarding.

Operating Procedures
In accordance with DMV rules, the driver is always sober and well-rested before getting behind the wheel – and remains so for the duration of any run. The driver always travels with a crewmate who:
– Stands outside the vehicle to guide it when necessary (backing up, navigating tight spots)
– Remains vigilant for hazards on playa (obstacles, darkwads, flame installations, etc.)
– Helps conduct people to and from the rooftop deck
– Evaluates the ability (age, agility, sobriety) of rooftop passengers before they board and screens out those who might get hurt boarding or debarking
– Knows where the first aid kit and fire extinguisher are and how to use them

Enter/Exit Procedures
The vehicle takes on and offloads passengers only when completely stopped. Passengers may climb in through the passenger door or the rear doors (although that opening is sometimes stacked with bikes inside). Passengers may board the rooftop deck only by means of the rear ladder, and only when cleared by either the crewmate or by another rooftop passenger who agrees to be the “designated grownup” – to aid the driver in politely refusing admittance to anyone who might be too high, drunk, young, old or simply infirm to safely climb up and down the ladder.

Effort Required
2-4 people 15 hours

Describe Tasks
– Assemble roof-deck guardrail (2 people, 1.5 hrs)
– Assemble crown armature (2 people, 2 hrs)
– Attach front-wheel shape armatures (30 mins, 2 people or 60 mins 1 person)
– Attach fabric to crown armature and various attachment points on the vehicle (2 people, 2 hours)
– Install and connect light bars (2 people, 1 hour)
– Deploy xylophones, microphones, resonators and speakers (2 people, 1 hour)
– Install safety lights, walkaround and final check (2 people, 1/2 hour)

Number of EA passes

Arrival Day

Propulsion Type
Stock 7.5-L V8 gas engine – recently rebuilt, so about as green as a big gas engine can be. We will be burning approx 6-10 gals.

Does your Mutant Vehicle have a steam boiler of any type?

Flame Effects


Data Listed Publicly?

L.A. Decom 2012 – Unifying angels and syncopating devils

Bigger, lusher, deeper, louder – better.

The L.A. Burning Man Decompression Arts Festival grew in scope and beauty this year. We were really staggered and touched by all of you gorgeous people who came by to play and chat with us – and we wish we had met even more of you, but Decom beckoned, so we left XyloVan in your busy hands and went off to explore. Here are a few of our clumsy snaps (we were “experimenting” with motion blur and grain … okay, we really need to invest in a new camera) and some more thoughts.

From Steampunk Saloon‘s vibrant carnival and Dancetronauts‘ wild abandon to the fire artists on Flow Arts Stage and the art-car throwdown between Charlie the Unicorn and the Dirty Beetles – Decom delighted us in more ways than we can catalog.

We took the Saucer Squadron out on a few sorties and danced through the crowds, we noshed (banana and nutella crepes … oooooohhh mama). And we hung out under XyloVan’s rooftop canopy and listened to you all play – so many styles of drumming, plinking and symphonic syncopation that we basically emptied the adjective jar trying to find new ways to describe what you all bring to the van.

This year we were also fortunate to join the crew that built Seraphim, the first communal sculpture created by L.A. burners. We helped visitors write their hopes, dreams, fears prayers and grief onto flame-colored pallet slats that we then attached to the sculpture for later burning.

Hats off to Split, Widget, Michael, Igor and all the engineers, artists and hardcore just-keep-making-till-it’s-done volunteers who built that gorgeous work over the past month, set it up last week and then pulled it down and loaded it into a van for storage on Sunday. We can’t wait to see it meet its intended fate – a glorious bonfire – at a place still to be determined.

We scraped ourselves up Sunday morning (after going to sleep at 3:30 a.m.) to break down XyloVan and rejoin the Seraphim crew for a few hours – still marveling.

L.A. Decom went big this year – in the best fashion possible. Kudos to all of you. Stand by for a few videos.

We’re headed to Swing City!

(Via Swing City on Facebook)
We’re tickled as hell to share this news:

XyloVan just learned that we will be joining Swing City in Black Rock City this August at Burning Man 2012.

Swing City is dedicated to aerial gymnastics – and the XyloVan crew is about as buff as a plate of doughnuts.

But we’re as likely to monkey around on playground equipment as the next 5-year-old, and can’t wait to try out the rings, the silks and all the other gear.

So drop on by 9 o’Clock between C and D and serenade us while we’re nursing a likely collection of sore muscles and bruises.

Come bang on the van!

Back at the Egyptian – movie, art, glitz and Burning Man newbie orientation

We returned to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for a screening of the new cut of “Journey to the Flames, ” a travelogue/chronicle of one camp’s 11-year citizenship in Black Rock City.

As usual, XyloVan attracted some wonderful music: Here’s a member of the Dirty Beetles art car crew just pouring himself into Keyboard 1:

Here’s a more experimental/contemplative approach …

And here’s how fabulous some of you all looked before, during and after the newbie orientation and playa fashion show. See you in BRC in a couple months!

Xylovan’s 2011 summer tour schedule

We’re starting to feel like a band here. We have gigs comin’ out our ears.

L.A. Food Truck Chowdown
Saturday, patient June 11: (late morning to 7 p.m.)
If you’re hungry and/or bored this Saturday, come down to the Los Angeles Food Truck Chowdown. XyloVan will be there along with a ton of art cars, vintage vehicles, artists, live bands, craft vendors, a video-game truck and oh, about 50 of L.A.’s best food trucks. Nice way to spend an afternoon.

Everything happens at the Cornfields (I’ll never get used to calling it the Los Angeles State Historical Park) near Chinatown. Ticket proceeds ($10) benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Film: “Journey to the Flames and Burning Man Newbie Orientation
Sunday, June 12, 2p.m.-10p.m.:
XyloVan will be joining veteran Burners all afternoon in the magnificent courtyard of the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to welcome a screening of the latest in the L.A. League of Arts Burning Man Film Series.

Journey to the Flames” is a 10-year documentary about a group of friends gearing up, traveling to and plunging themselves into Burning Man. (Here are a few film clips.)

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey and longtime communications director Maid Marian Goodell will be on hand with filmmakers Doug Jacobson and Steve Binder for some post-movie Q&A.

The screening starts at 7:30, but people can wander through the courtyard all afternoon and evening to check out XyloVan and other slices of interactive Burning Man culture.

Burning Man newbies are most welcome to come and learn from other Burners (including us) all about playa life – including Where to Get Materials, How to Survive, Why We Do It, What Are the Secrets, and Isn’t It Really Just a Bunch of Stinkin’ Naked Hippie Drug Cases Making a Mess in the Worst Desert in North America. (No, it’s patently not!) C’mon down.

And then, of course, XyloVan will be traveling to …

Burning Man
Aug. 29-Sept. 5.

About which, more later.

XyloVan goes to Hollywood

That was great – a little microburn without all the driving, heat and dust.

XyloVan trekked a massive 4.3 miles last night to the Egyptian Theater to help kick off the L.A. League of Arts Burning Man Film Series. We utterly devoured the fascinating first film in the series – Dust and Illusions.

Check it out wherever you can – it traces the community’s 30-year-deep roots from a coagulation of like-spirited artists up through its raucous early years, the watershed ’96 burn that spurred creation of Black Rock City and its rich, monstrous growth up to last year’s 51,454-strong burn. If the nostalgia and inspiration don’t grab you, the politics will – so many strong minds struggling to define the undefinable.

We had a blast setting up in the courtyard – many thanks to Beth and Athena for graciously making space for XyloVan, and to Dore and Cristina for sharing Calliope the Wonder Wagon and their judicious barge-guiding skills with us. Thanks to them, maneuvering XyloVan in and out of the 7-foot-wide alley through the courtyard was a joy rather than the nerve-shredding crunchfest it could have been.

Thanks, also, to the Krishnas for the wonderful food, spiritual generosity and musical interaction.

And thanks especially to all of you – happy burners, playful Angelenos and all the had-to-be-coaxed-but-wound-up-enjoying-it souls who made lovely music into the night.

Tons of photos after the jump – if you spot yourself there, drop a line in the comments and leave your name and link!
Continue reading XyloVan goes to Hollywood