Burning Man Cultural Co-Founder, artist and environmentalist Will Roger presents 15 years of his aerial and drone photography documenting Black Rock City, a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada along with his personal account of serving as Director of Operations from 1996-1998. This includes his time shared with the Cacophony Society to the creation of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and concludes with the design of the city, and aerial photography from 2008-2018.
Compass of the Ephemeral contains a substantial collection of Burning Man historical ephemera and photography by numerous artists and contributors, including the Master Plan drawings for Black Rock City by Rod Garrett, and insightful essays about Black Rock City's evolution from a small gathering in the desert into a city with infrastructure that serves as a model for other cities around the world today.
Essay contributors include: William L. Fox, founding director for the Center of Art and Environment, Nevada Museum of Art, archaeologist Alexei Vranich, Burning Man Cultural Co-Founders Harley Dubois and Crimson Rose, and, Black Rock City Superintendent Tony "Coyote" Perez-Banuet.
Will Roger is an artist, teacher, innovator and environmentalist. He is a co-founder of Burning Man. He has served as 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 at Rochester Institute of Technology where he received an MFA in Photography. His aerial photography has been exhibited at the Nevada Museum of Art, The Rotunda of the United States Capitol, Sotheby's and Renwick/Smithsonian Museum of Art. He lectures internationally on matters of environment and urban planning. William L. Fox, Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, is an art critic, science writer, and cultural geographer. He has published sixteen books on cognition, art, and landscape, more than a hundred essays in art monographs, magazines, and journals, and fifteen collections of poetry. Fox has researched and written books set in the Antarctic, the Arctic, the Himalaya, and the deserts of Chile, Australia, and the United States. He is a fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and Explorers Club, and recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Science Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute, the Clark Art Institute, the Australian National University, the National Museum of Australia, and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet, author of Built to Burn: Tales of the Desert Carnies of Burning Man,is a co-founder of the Department of Public Works of Black Rock City and has served as 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. Rosa JH Berland is a curator and historian specializing in modern and contemporary art and design. A published author, she has worked for TheMuseum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the FrickCollection. Harley K. Duboisis a Founding Board Member and Chief Transition Officer of Burning Man Project. As a Cultural Co-Founding member of Black Rock City LLC, 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, Dubois 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. Dubois also created and maintains a comprehensive training and self-development program for the Burning Man staff, fostering volunteerism and cross-departmental communication. Crimson Roseis a Founding Board Member and Board Secretary of Burning Man Project. As a Cultural Co-Founder of Burning Man, the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burning Man Project, 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 Rose'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.
Alexei Vranich has extensively researched around the world and has been recognized by the National Science Foundation for his innovative application of technology in the study of the past. Bridging the divide between academic and popular archaeology, Alexei has appeared in television channels and magazines such as National Geographic, The Sciences, and Archaeology Magazine. Alexei is currently conducting archaeological research in Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire.
"Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City Through the Lens of Will Roger is a stunning historical travelog 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.... Rogers aerial photographs will keep you turning back. They show numbers – as in grains of sand, campers, cars and tents. They show the expanse of desert and sky. They show infinite beige and gradations of blue. One book defines the ephemeral, which, of course, can’t be defined. Which is why, some just have to have it."
—Gwynned Vitello, Juxtapoz Magazine
"Roger’s photos turn the Burning Man festival itself into a piece of art."
—John Przybys, Las Vegas Review Journal
"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 workings, challenges and decisions that made the growth possible."
—James Gabriel Martin, Lonely Planet
"Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger...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."
—Sarah Cascone, artnet News
"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."
—James Gabriel Martin, Lonely Planet
"The annual Burning Man event and its location in Black Rock City have become icons representing novel creativeness while promoting unrestrained expression....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."
—Aaron Row, Seattle Book Review