Tree of Knowledge: A project for Burning Man



With a group of friends I've been working these past months to conceptualize a project for this years Burning Man Festival in August. We've now finished our idea, The Tree of Knowledge, and submitted an application for funding from the festival - fingers crossed they'll like the idea.

The Tree of Knowledge project is based on a global, cross-team collaboration between artists, makers, academics and builders at Harvard University, Creative Commons, the Open Design + Hardware Network at the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Tech Collaborative.

The project is a community performance; a collaborative ritual. Our Tribe, and we hope the broader Burning Man community, will undertake to illustrate– literally, to illuminate– the magic of sharing knowledge, though the rich symbolism of sharing light. With this project, we want to remind people that knowledge is magic.

We mean this in several senses: Knowledge is magic because magic is, indeed, merely a lack of knowledge. For a long time, the wonders of nature were a mystery to us. Everything was ‘magic’ because it could not be understood.

Over time, ‘science’ has progressively taken over the ‘magic’ surrounding our life; today, most of the what was regarded as ‘magic’ is explained by scientific theories. Yet, the modern man is just as ignorant as before: even though we believe in ‘science’, we are still living in a world that we are unable to comprehend. Knowledge is controlled by scientists, the ‘wizards’ of our time. Only the free dissemination of knowledge can ensure that the wonders of science and technology will no longer be shrouded in mystery.

With the Tree of Knowledge, we propose to build a mysteriously glowing tree. The magical spectacle of people picking bioluminescent fruit draws people into a conversation about the underlying science.

Read more about the project, see videos and photos - and read about the team on the Tree of Knowledge website.

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