Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger (Hardcover)

Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger Cover Image
By Will Roger, Phyllis Needham (Editor), William Fox (Contributions by), Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet (Contributions by), Harley Dubois (Introduction by), Alexei Vranich (Contributions by), Crimson Rose (Contributions by)
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


Nevada artist and Burning Man event co-founder Will Roger photographs the ever changing cityscape and transformation of Black Rock City as it changed throughout the years. The book contains a substantial collection of aerial photos as never seen before. A photographic collaboration between Will Roger and Burning Man architect Rod Garrett, Introduction by Burning Man co-founder Harley Dubois. Contributions from Independent scholar William Fox and Archaeologist Alexei Vranich, Available in hardback format, 216 pages.

About the Author

Will Roger is an artist, teacher, innovator and environmentalist. He is a co-founder of Burning Man. He has served Chairman of Sierra Front, North Western Great Basin Resource Advisory Council and President of the Friends of the Black Rock-High Rock. He was an Associate Professor of Photography Rochester Institute of Technology where he received MFA in Photography.

Phyllis Needham is an American professional that provides editing and proofreading services to publishers, businesses, organisations, academic institutions and individuals. Needham has extensive experience in the areas of editing, copy editing, english grammar, proofreading, ghost writing, and other publishing needs.

William L Fox is a writer, independent scholar, and poet whose work focuses on how human cognition transforms land into landscape. He was born in San Diego and attended Claremont McKenna College. He has edited several literary magazines and presses, among them the West Coast Poetry Review, and worked as a consulting editor for university presses, as well as being the former director of the poetry program at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. In the visual arts, Fox has exhibited text works in more than two dozen group and solo exhibitions in seven countries, served as the Associate Director of the Nevada Museum of Art, and then as the visual arts and architecture critic for the Reno Gazette-Journal. In 2001-02 he spent two-and-a-half months in the Antarctic with the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Visiting Artists and Writers Program. Fox has also worked as a team member of NASA’s Haughton-Mars Project, which tests methods of exploring Mars on Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic. He currently is the lead strategist for the Art + Environment initiative at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet is one of the co-founder the Department of Public Works of Black Rock City and has been City Superintendent for twenty years. Known as the “Bard of the Desert”, telling stories around the campfire is among the things he does best. He has been blogging under the moniker of “Coyote Nose” for many years, and he is Burning Man’s first Storytelling Fellow.

A founding member of Black Rock City LLC, Harley K. Dubois has over 25 years of project management, art and city planning experience. As the City Manager of Black Rock City for over 10 years, Harley oversaw both the Playa Safety Council and Community Services departments, ensuring the citizens of BRC are happy and safe, including ingress, life on playa, and egress. She originated theme camp placement, the Greeters, Playa Info, and Burning Man Information Radio, and has kindled the development of all other Community Service teams. Harley also created and maintains a comprehensive training and self-development program for the Burning Man staff, fostering volunteerism and cross-departmental communication.

Alexei Vranich received his B.A from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has extensive research experience around the world in such places as Spain, Italy, India, Peru, and Bulgaria, and Costa Rica. He has been recognized by the National Science Foundation for the innovation application of technology in the study of the past. Bridging the divide between academic and popular archaeology, Alexei has appeared in television and in magazines such as National Geographic, The Sciences, and Archaeology Magazine, in addition to a variety of national and international newspapers. Alexei conducting his archaeological research on Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire.

As a co-founder of Burning Man, the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burning Man Project, Crimson Rose’s life passion and work have focused on the arts and artistic expression. She began participating in the Burning Man event in 1991, and developed the organization’s Art Department, including the infrastructure, financial and other support services that make possible the large-scale participatory art works that Burning Man is renowned for. With Crimson’s guidance, Burning Man serves as an inspirational limitless canvas, the works of which now find public placement in cities around the world and serve as catalytic sparks for community collaboration. Instigator of the creative energy and Creative Director of the Fire Conclave, the largest gathering of fire performers in one place at one time in the world. Others creative endeavors include: land art, textiles, watercolors & assembles.

Praise For…

"The Burning Man festival began in 1986 as an intimate, intensely personal gathering on a San Francisco beach. When the latest incarnation of the event begins Sunday in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, running through Sept. 2, tens of thousands of celebrants will gather to celebrate art, music and share in a sense of counterculture reminiscent of the ’60s but totally modern. How Burning Man got from there to here — and the meaning of it all — is the focus of two recently published books. Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger (Smallworks, $29.99) features photographs taken by Roger, a Burning Man founder, as well as archival images of festivals over the years. Radical Ritual: How Burning Man Changed the World by Neil Shister (Counterpoint, $26) is a telling of the Burning Man story, based in large part on interviews with the festival’s principals. Roger’s photos turn the Burning Man festival itself into a piece of art. From the air, the half-circle collection of tents and recreational vehicles that make up Black Rock City take on the appearance of a geoglyph, one of those massive designs carved into the ground that can be seen only from the air. Other photos depict Burning Man art installations, poster and ticket designs through the years and other archival visuals, fleshed out with essays about Burning Man history and the festival experience. Burners and armchair Burners both will love the book’s anecdotes and trivia. For example: Harley K. Dubois, founding board member of the Burning Man Project, noted that the festival’s grid structure was introduced in 1997, a move that began the transformation of a “camping trip” into a city. In 2004, Burning Man’s Ten Principles were written, and Dubois writes: “We began to name and own our identity as ‘Burners.’ A culture had been defined. We reached the mainstream, but we had not sold out; we simply had arrived.” In addition to chronicling the physical development, the book looks at the Burning Man’s emotional maturation. Dubois notes that the book “gives a glimpse into how the human psyche can be provoked into feeling a sense of belonging through sharing this particular physical space, of how a location and design can help unify people, creating an identity that can be shared across the globe.” In Radical Ritual, Shister, a former Time correspondent and TV critic for the Miami Herald, offers more of an outsider’s view. Through interviews with the event’s principals and behind-the-scenes stories of how Burning Man and Black Rock City work, he offers a glimpse of festival history that not even its dust-covered participants are likely to see. Shister also explores the ripple effects Burning Man might have on society, and examines how a worldwide event grew from largely accidental origins. “The essential thing to understand about the whole Burning Man phenomenon is that nobody saw it coming,” he writes of a festival that couldn’t have been imagined by “even your looniest, acid-addled Haight-Ashbury whack job in the wildest of (his) hallucinations … ” Least of all, Shister adds, Larry Harvey, who “with a close friend and their young sons, lit that first fire in part to heal his broken heart.” Shister examines what setting fire to a wooden figure on that San Francisco beach has become, noting that Harvey (who died in 2018) gathered friends together the next year to do it again. The next time around, at the third burn, “Harvey gave the effigy and the event a name: Burning Man.”" —John Przybys, Las Vegas Review Journal

"Burning Man is kind of like skiing. For those who are drawn to each annual pilgrimage, it is worth the vital preparation, inevitable sting and mercuriality of weather, the physical toll and exhilaration. Some of us will never understand, but were all very curious. Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City Through the Lens of Will Roger is a stunning historical travelogue in words and pictures that defines and depicts Black Rock City, as it was conceived, as well as how it continues to regenerate. While the gorgeous pictures present themselves admirably, the accompanying essays, all written with passion and precision, relate history, process, schematics and vision. In his foreword, Will Roger describes navigating the bureaucratic loops to build "the beautiful serpentine city" in order to create what he simply calls "land art." William Fox, Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, lends context in describing the 400 square miles of North Americas largest playa where meager blue light shifts can result in cognitive dissonance (like snow blindness!), a diminishment that "is useful if you're seeking to un-anchor your normal sense of reality." Tony Perez-Banuet says of the clock signage and building the city anew every year that the design was "such a damn good one that is simply prevailed." In conclusion, Roger, a co-founder of Burning Man, recalls the aerial filming that began in 2005, crediting his pilots who helped him show an expansive perspective that truly captures the enduring power of the desert. The results of such wide-open inspiration are pictured throughout the 200-plus pages of Compass of the Ephemeral, published by Jim Stanford and his Smallworks Press. Of course, the Burning Man himself makes colorful appearances, but site maps and topographic renderings lend visual reference. Various ticket designs and event maps flavor the stories. But Rogers aerial photographs will keep you turning back. They show numbers – as in grains of sand, campers, cars and tents. They show expanse of desert and sky. They show infinite beige and gradations of blue. One book defines the ephemeral, which, of course, cant be defined. Which is why, some just have to have it."—Gwynned Vitello, Juxtapoz Magazine

"View Black Rock City through the ages ahead of this year’s Burning Man One of the biggest cultural events of the calendar year, Burning Man sees 70,000 people voyaging to the playa of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to build a temporary civilisation free from the usual societal constraints. It has become iconic in its scope and identity, and now, ahead of Burning Man 2019, a new photo book has been released that offers a stunning insider’s perspective on the famous event. Called Compass of the Ephemeral, the photobook presents a collection of landscape, aerial and drone images taken by the event’s first Director of Operations and Cultural Co-Founder Will Roger between 2005 and 2018. The images have been put together in a never-before-seen collection along with those taken by other photographers. Published by Small Works Press, a local Las Vegas independent company, the book maps the dramatic expansion of Burning Man since its conception in 1986, focusing specifically on how Black Rock City has changed. "This book provides some insight and documentation into the development and growth of the temporary metropolis that is created and disappears each year on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. It tells the story of growth, community engagement and artistic interaction. The reader will gain insight into the inner working, challenges and decisions that made the growth possible. The aerial photographs, while taken with an artistic intention, also are documents of Black Rock City blossoming over 14 years. This book has an intriguing blend of artwork, photographs and essays that make up an entertaining insight into a portion of its history,” Author Will Roger told Lonely Planet Travel News. One of the event’s most famous sights each year are the intricate and astounding art projects, sculptures and interactive displays created by its attendees. In the book, Will Roger documents these projects, from the planning stages through to completion. Compass of the Ephemeral is available through the official Small Works Press website."—James Gabriel Martin, Lonely Planet

"New Photobook Documents the Notorious Burning Man Smallworks Press, an independent publishing company specializing in limited edition, exquisitely-printed books focusing on contemporary art and culture, has announced it is producing and distributing the highly-anticipated Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger, the first book of aerial and drone photography by cultural co-founder of Burning Man, Will Roger. Compass of the Ephemeral includes a collection of Will Roger’s photographs chronicling the ever-changing cityscape and transformation of Black Rock City, home to Burning Man and one of the harshest climates in the continental U.S. The book traces the history and transition of Black Rock City from a few thousand people in the late 1990s to the growing metropolis required to support over 70,000 citizens today. As the first Director of Operations of the Burning Man event, Will Roger worked alongside the other five founding board members and all others involved to ensure that Black Rock City becomes a reality each year and then vanishes without a trace. He was instrumental in creating numerous foundations for the event, including: established the Department of Public Works (DPW), a workforce of volunteers dedicated to building and deconstructing the physical infrastructure of Black Rock City; actualized an FAA approved airport, and conceived traditions such as the Gold Spike Ceremony, a pre-event commemoration for the builders of Black Rock City, as the first stake is placed in the ground to survey and build the future city. Roger says: “Burning Man is a blank canvas for people to come and create on. Burning Man creates a human empathy, then serendipity and creativity happens. Burning Man is the real world; everything else is the default world. People come away with changed lives and a changed culture because at Burning Man, everyone is human . . . there is no class, no color. You become family: human family, world family, global family.” Compass of the Ephemeral also includes interpretive essays by William L. Fox, director of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment; Alexei Vranich, American archeologist at the University of California, Berkley; Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet, city superintendent of Black Rock City; Crimson Rose, cultural co-founder of Burning Man; and an introduction by Harley K. DuBois, cultural co-founder of Burning Man. Each essay explores the physical, cultural and artistic context and impact of the Burning Man event. A preview of the book will take place at the Nevada Museum of Art on May 23, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Reno, Nevada. Will Roger,William L. Fox and Crimson Rose will discuss aspects of the book with the panel moderated by Smallworks Press publisher, James Stanford. Stanford comments, “I could not be more delighted that Will Roger chose Smallworks Press as his official publisher. Since 2006, Smallworks Press has been producing exceptional visual and interpretive works that reflect the interconnectivity of art and community, a vision that Roger has made tangible each year for the past 14 years, by visually documenting the uniqueness of Burning Man and Black Rock City and by his involvement and contributions to the Burning Man culture and infrastructure.” —Fine Books & Collections​

"The annual Burning Man event and its location in Black Rock City have become icons representing novel creativeness while promoting unrestrained expression. Co-founder of this inspiring phenomenon, Will Rogers has assembled a colorful collection of aerial photographs recording the evolution of this summer site over the past thirteen years starting in 2005. Interspersed within this photographic assemblage are a series of essays describing the objectives of this meeting place, the geology and natural history of the site, some glimpses into the personalities of the founding characters, and ultimately meeting the challenges of fulfilling both the demands of the Department of Public Works and meeting the needs of the escalating number of camping participants. Building a temporary city on a dry lake bed in the Nevadan dust was the challenge undertaken by founder Larry Harvey, builder Rod Garret and Will Rogers; this is their story told with passion, devotion, commitment and quite a bit of humor. The photos clearly depict the growing pains endured by this effort to design the semi-circular clockwork transitory city plan needed for the campers to revel in. This illustrated story is inspiring, but I wish there were more down to earth land views to compare with the aerial scenes."—Aaron Row, Seattle Book Review

"People A Man Who Has Attended Burning Man for Decades Captured the Event From His Airplane Will Roger captures the beauty of Black Rock City, the temporary desert settlement built each year for Burning Man. Sarah Cascone, August 9, 2019 Each August, a unique gathering takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, as tens of thousands descend on the Burning Man gathering, an annual spectacle of art, music, and community that has become a cultural phenomena—and, increasingly, a lightning rod—since its founding in 1986. Now, a new book from Will Roger, a Burning Man devotee since 1994, showcases this epic gathering on the playa in stunning aerial photographs, taken on site between 2005 and 2018. It was Roger’s girlfriend, now his wife, Crimson Rose, who first brought him to Burning Man. “There were about 2,000 attendees that year,” Rogers told artnet News. (By comparison, Burning Man expects as many as 100,000 people to make the trip this year.) It was the explosive growth of the counter-cultural event that led the couple to get more involved. In the late 1990s, Burning Man had grown to a point where it needed a more structured organizational system if it was going to survive. In 1997, Roger and Rose became part of Burning Man’s core team as cultural co-founders of Black Rock City LLC—it has since transitioned to a nonprofit—with Roger serving as the gathering’s first director of operations. Where infrastructure had previously been minimal—“desert operations to that point involved simply drawing a hundred-foot circle, putting the Man in the center, and then having a beer” writes Roger in the forward to the book—urban planner Rod Garret was brought on that year to help erect temporary living quarters and venues where there is normally just dust and sand. “The Black Rock Desert is transformed into a city, home to 80,000 citizens with a full city infrastructure, and back to a blank canvas in just over two months,” said Roger, noting that the city has become increasingly complex in the years since, as it has grown in size and population, becoming subject to more and more regulations from government agencies. “[It’s] truly a miracle in the high desert.” When he started taking photographs, Roger didn’t intend to turn them into a book. Instead, he thought the images would make great thank you gifts to the people who made Burning Man possible. “I have always considered Rod Garrett’s city design to be an amazing work of environmental art,” he explained. “Since I had aerial photography experience, it only seemed natural for me to photograph the structure from above.” Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger, published in June by Smallworks Press, showcases Burning Man’s history, pairing Roger’s images with those of other photographers, as well as an essay from Roger about the challenges of putting on an event of this size and magnitude in a barren desert. His favorite photo is the one on the cover, taken during a particularly dusty, cloudy morning. “I didn’t think I got any good shots that day because of the poor conditions,” Roger recalled. “When I got back to camp and started to look through what I had captured, that image just jumped out at me.” And despite his many years on the playa, Roger is still a steadfast believer in the magic of Burning Man. “Each year on the morning of the event opening I look forward to the remarkable energy shift after 40,000 to 50,000 burners arrive in Black Rock City,” he said. “That energy, filled with positive intention, unconditional love, and creativity is powerful. Everyone feels it and is affected by it.”"—artnet News

Product Details
ISBN: 9780977880652
ISBN-10: 0977880656
Publisher: Smallworks Press
Publication Date: June 18th, 2019
Pages: 216
Language: English