It’s not just wooden sculptures and bonfires that get scorched at Burning Man. The festival’s 70,000+ attendees also feel the heat of the Black Rock desert’s extreme environment. With temperatures reaching up to 100°F (40°C) during the day, festival goers usually have few places to escape from the sun; however, Russian artist Alex Shtanuk has created a solution to the Nevada heat, with a 107,640-square-foot (10,000-square-meter) “NASA” blanket.
Made of 3,350 NASA Space blankets (BoPET polyester) and held together with 40 km of reinforced tape, The Blanket is coated with a metallic agent that reflects up to 97% of the radiated heat. The material was designed in the 1960s to stabilize body temperatures, and is the same silver fabric you might have seen wrapped around athletes or physical trauma victims. Shtanuk hopes his gigantic canvas will provide Burning Man attendees a space to cool down, away from the intense daytime sun. People can hide under its flowing waves and chill in a micro-climate that’s a few degrees cooler than outside.
“At night hundreds of people in el-wire suits will get together under the blanket creating an effect of oceanic bioluminescent plankton or moving waves of equalizer,” explains Shtanuk. “Ever since we were children and throughout our life we share the space under the blanket with lovers, friends and family. Under The Blanket there are no strangers.”
Shtanuk previously tested a smaller 100-foot-by-130-foot blanket at the Russian land-art festival, Archstoyanie. “The blanket looked absolutely alien among fields and trees,” he recalls. “At the same time, the huge silver object affects people in a very specific way: they start smiling, running on it, interacting with it in all possible ways. Just like children.”
In order to make the Burning Man project a reality, Shtanuk is currently raising funds via an Indiegogo campaign. The flexible goal of $17,500 will cover materials and equipment, as well as space rental and transport costs from Russia to Black Rock desert. Backers will receive their very own “dusty piece” of the material in various available sizes.