The Black Rock Desert in Las Vegas is an ancient lakebed with the vestiges of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan, and an ideal location for setting land speed records. But for several weeks a year, it is Black Rock City, a temporary city with a population of about 60,000 that vanish into thin air soon thereafter.
This is the also site for Burning Man an annual event and tradition long held since 1986 that grew from a spontaneous meeting of a small group of people to a huge community with a transient city. There is no brief explanation as to what it is exactly, as the “experience” differs widely from one person to the next.
Burning Man, 2008. Image via Shutterstock
It is music, art, dance and human extravaganza all rolled into one, in a week-long event that attracts people from all parts of the country. It is a place and time wherein everyone participates and everyone belongs since there is always something new and something that has never been thought of before.
Aside from “The Man,” a wooden humanoid structure burned within the timeline of the event, there are other works of art to be seen. From elaborate structures to radically costumed people (there are actually some that don only body paint and nothing more), some attendees opt to design their own means of transportation.
There are all sorts of uncanny modifications and creations, from neon-lit bicycles to motorized skulls and cupcakes to fully mobile mechanized arthropods.
These contraptions are called mutant vehicles, and one of them is a 3,000-pound fire-breathing robot scorpion. Yes, you read it right. This behemoth is said to be the brain-child of Ken Murdoch, who conceptualized and financed the project, designed and constructed by Kirk Jellum, who also constructed the Mantis.
What was originally a 28-foot boom truck has become complex machinery, complete with lighting effects, contracting claws, moving limbs, and to top it all off, fire effects on the tail – all of which are controlled by a computer and Arduino controls.
Seeing this magnificent beast would either leave you amazed about how meticulously it was made, or so scared that you start running. After all, who wants to see a gigantic scorpion that breathes fire coming their way?
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Edited by Braden Becker