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William Binzen: Desert Siteworks


Summary Note

William Binzen created singular images to accompany his Desert Siteworks project from 1992-1994. Desert Siteworks was a summer solstice celebration held annually before Burning Man. Materials include color photographs and backstories to each one, video, and printed ephemera.

Biographical Note

William Binzen received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and has produced a variety of portfolios using 8 x 10, medium format and 35mm film; Polaroid, digital and plastic cameras. William lives in the Marin hills of northern California, where he divides his time between photography and creating layered musical compositions based on improvisation.

Scope and Content

Binzen, along with John Law and Kevin Evans from the San Francisco Cacophony Society, convinced Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey to move his event to the Black Rock playa in 1990 when Harvey and company were barred from using Baker Beach in the city for the gathering. Binzen knew that local ceramicist John Bogard and friends played giant croquet during the summer using pickup trucks as mallets, and believed that Harvey could bring the sculpture out to the desert to burn without being bothered by law enforcement. Binzen was also instrumental in later helping to make art a major focus of Burning Man, bringing his architectonic sculpture, "Desert House," to the playa in 1992, where it served as the predecessor of the Central Camp.

Binzen created singular medium-format, double exposure images of his Desert Siteworks project from 1992-1994. His intent was to make magical realist images that communicated a deeper reality about the feeling and spirit of the event. Desert Siteworks was a summer solstice celebration held annually before Burning Man. The event was performance and installation-based, its 15-20 participants engaging in ritual role-playing, meditative exercises, and group art projects. This was an early iteration of the “intentional community,” which became a basic tenet of Burning Man.

Materials include color photographs from the Desert Siteworks series, which include backstories to each one, video, and printed ephemera.


William Binzen: Desert Siteworks is organized into eight folders chronologically.

Inclusive Dates

1990 - 2016

Bulk Dates

1992 - 1994

Quantity / Extent

.5 cubic feet



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Related Publications

A Voyage of Growth and Discovery. Produced by Mike Kelley and Michael Smith. N.S.W., Australia: ArtPix, 2011. DVD.

Aqua Burn: a 2002 Burning Man film. Directed by Bill Breithaupt. Novato, CA: Adrenaline Network Studios, 2008. DVD.

As the Dust Settles: a Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man. Produced by Mike Hedge. United States: Trigantic Productions, 2013. DVD.

Binzen, William. Waking Dream. San Anselmo, CA: Smith Anderson North, 2016.

Blank, Herrod. Art Cars. Douglas AZ: Blank Books, 2002.

Bowditch, Rachel. On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man. New York, N.Y.: Seagull Books, 2010.

Bruder, Jessica. Burning Book: Two Decades of Burning Man. New York, N.Y.: Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2007.

Burn Baby Burn: a film about the 2001 Burning Man Festival. San Francisco, CA: s. i., 2001. DVD.

Burn on the Bayou. Directed by Matt Leonard. San Francisco, CA: Black Rock City LLC, 2008. DVD.

Burn: The Burning Man Arts Festival. Directed by David Secter. San Francisco, CA: The Movie Secter LLC, 2000. DVD.

Burning Man 1998. Directed by Jim Babichuck. San Francisco, CA: Black Rock City LLC, 1998. DVD.

Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock. Directed by Damon Brown. Austin, TX: Gone Off Deep Productions LLC, 2006. DVD.

Burning Man: Where's the Fire? Directed by Fernando Velasquez. Los Angeles, CA: Seventh Arts Releasing, 1999. DVD.

Cash, Julian. The People of Burning Man: Portraits of Revolutionary Spirits. United States: ThePeopleOfBurningMan.com, 2011.

Chen, Katherine K. Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Christians, Karen. Jewelry of Burning Man. California: Self-published, 2015.

Cohen, Scott. The Life Cube Project: The Journey from Burning Man to Downtown Las Vegas. Santa Rosa, CA: Global Interprint, 2014.

Confessions of a Burning Man: Experience the Journey. Directed by Paul Barnett and Unsu Lee. San Francisco, CA: Windline Films LLC, 2006. DVD.

Das Burning Man Projekt. Directed by Johannes Beckermann. Praha, Czech Republic: Art Cam Film Fernseh Production, 1996. DVD.

Diehl, Ronny. Burning Man: The American Frontier Revisted in Acoustic Space. Berlin, Germany: Grin Verlag, 2010.

Doherty, Brian. This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground. Dallas TX: BenBella Books, 2006.

Dust Devils. Directed by Dearbhla Glynn, Woodbury, MN: Purple Productions, 2003. DVD.

Evans, Kevin, Carrie Galbraith, and John Law. Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society. San Francisco CA: Last Gasp Publishing, 2013.

Falco, Edward. Burning Man: Stories. Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University Press, 2011.

Fall of Man: Burning Man 99. Santa Barbara, CA: East Beach Productions, 2001. DVD.

Five Themes of Burning Man. Directed by Mark McGothigan. Oakland, CA: Steam Power Video, 2002. DVD.

Folding Time and Space at Burning Man 2. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI: Panmagic.com, 2005. DVD.

Folding Time and Space at Burning Man. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI: Panmagic.com, 2004. DVD.

Folding Time. Directed by Robert Henrikson. Hana, HI: Panmagic.com, 2003. DVD.

Fox, William L. Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2002.

Fox, William L. The Black Rock Desert. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2002.

Fox, William L. The Void, the Grid & the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2000.

Fraunfelder, Mark. et al., The Happy Mutant. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995.

Gifting It: A Burning Embrace of Gift Economy. Directed by Renea Roberts. Cerrillos, NM: R3 Productions, Inc. 2002. DVD.

Gilmore, Lee, and Mark Van Proyen, eds. AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

Gilmore, Lee. Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010.

Glade, Philippe. Black Rock City, NV: The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man. San Francisco, CA: Real Paper Books, 2016.

Glade, Philippe. Black Rock City: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Real Paper Books, 2011.

Goin, Peter. Black Rock. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2005.

Guy, NK. Art of Burning Man. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 2015.

Huang, Vincent. Burning Man. Japan: Self-published, 2001.

Jones, Steven T. The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture. San Francisco CA: Consortium of Collective Consciousness, 2011.

Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man. Produced and directed by David Vaisbord. Vancouver, B.C.: Herkules Productions in association with d-Network Pty. Ltd., 1998. DVD.

Kreuter, Holly. Drama in the Desert: The Sights and Sounds of Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Raised Barn Press, 2002.

Krukowski, Samantha, ed. Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man. London: Black Dog Publishing Limited, 2014.

Kuehn, Karen. Cargo Cult. ROGUE Publishing, 2014.

Kuehn, Karen. MetropoLOVE: Art and Love on The Playa. Peralta, NM: Self-published, 2012.

Kuehn, Karen. My Eyes are Burning. Peralta, NM: Self-published, 2010.

Loewy, Tomas. Radical Burning Desert: Burning Man Photography 2004 – 2010. Self-published, 2011.

Nash, A. Leo. Burning Man: Art in the Desert. New York, N.Y.: Harry N. Abrams, 2007.

Neurotic Burns: Johnny Does Burning Man. Produced by John Mendel, Curt LaFurney, Brian Stuart Hanish. Hollywood, CA: Upside Down Tv, 2006. DVD.

Pendell, Dale. Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man. Berkeley, CA: Frog Books, 2006.

Post, George P. Dancing with the Playa Messiah: Neon, Fire & Dust: A 21-Year Burning Man Photo Album. Richmond, CA: Dragon Fotografix, 2012.

Priestley, Joanna. Burning Man Eyes Open. Self-Published: 2016.

Priestley, Joanna. Children of Chaos @ Burning Man. Self-Published: 2017.

Raiser, Jennifer. Burning Man: Art on Fire. New York, NY: Race Point Publishing, 2014.

Roberts, Adrian, ed. Burning Man Live: 13 years of Piss Clear, Black Rock City's Alternative Newspaper. San Francisco, CA: RE/Search Publications, 2009.

Sensation: A Trip to Burning Man. Directed by Laurent Le Gall. San Rafael, CA: Free Run Pictures, 2003. DVD.

Spark: A Burning Man Story. Directed by Steven Brown & Jessie Deeter. Woodside, CA: Spark Pictures, 2014. DVD.

Spinelli, Frank. Burning Man: Into a 21st Century Utopia. Littlehorn Press: 2014.

Substance TV. Produced by Mike Wilson. Austin, TX: SubstanceTV Inc., 2002. DVD.

The Burning Man Festival. Directed by Joe Winston. Chicago, IL: Ow Myeye Productions, 2001. DVD.

The Burning Man Project: Renewal Cut. Directed by Bill Breithaupt. Novato, CA: s. i., 2000. DVD.

Traub, Barbara. Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning Man Photography. San Francisco, CA: Immedium, 2006.

Uchronia Community. Uchronia Community: Message Out of the Future. Belgium: Uchronia Community, 2006.

Wieners, Brad, ed. Burning Man. San Francisco CA: Distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West, 1997.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 101

    • Folder 1 Artist Information and Outreach Activities, 1994 – 2016
    • Folder 2 Concept Development and Realization, 1989-1994
    • Folder 3 Cyberstills, 1991
    • Folder 4 Desert Siteworks at Black Rock Springs, 1992
    • Folder 5 Desert Siteworks at Trego Hot Springs, 1993, 1993-1994
    • Folder 6 Desert Siteworks at Bordello Hot Springs, 1994
    • Folder 7 Desert Siteworks Future Development
    • Folder 8 Articles & Press, 2001 – 2014

Additional Materials

    CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 5#22 Photocopy of Trego Hot Ditch camp layout, Desert Siteworks “Preparing the Ground”, 1993
    • 5#23 Photocopy of technical drawing of Truss Bridge and Tower Pavilion, Trego Springs, 1993

    CAE Flat File F15 Oversized Items

    • 2#1a Print: Desert Siteworks: Schematic of Theory and Constructs
    • 2#2a Photograph: Midway of Fun, October 1994
    • 4#1a Photograph: Desert House at Black Rock Springs 1992 – 1st Architectonic Sculpture on the Black Rock Desert, 1992
    • 4#2a Photograph: Rhapsody of the Bohemes, Black Rock Springs (S.F. Cacophony) – 1992, “Preparing the Ground #1” – 1st Thematic Photo Event, 1992
    • 4#3a Photograph: Black Rock Spring with Water Sprites (sunset + night), 1992 (work print entitled: Black Rock Springs with Water Sprites + John Law’s neon installation)
    • 4#4a Photograph: Desert House at Burning Man, 1992 – Predecessor of Center Camp, 1992
    • 4#5a Photograph: Desert House at Burning Man (late afternoon + night), 1992
    • 5#1a Photograph: Desert Siteworks Reconnoiter – ‘Playacita Alta’, 1993
    • 5#2a Photograph: Mapping the Black Rock with Two Lines Made by Desert Navigation Locaters (late afternoon) – Trego, 1993 (work print entitled: Desert Navigation Locaters – Optically Parallel Lines Forming Vestigial House Glyph, Trego, 1993), 1993
    • 5#3a Photograph: Trego: Survey Line of Desert Navigation Locaters – Sighting to Bordello Springs (Copse of Trees – 4 Miles Distant), Trego, 1993 (work print entitled: Line of Desert Navigation Locations at Trego Pointing Toward Bordello Springs (Frogpond) 4 miles away – 1993), 1993
    • 5#4a Photograph: LightStruck – Two Lines Drawn in ‘Corrected Perspective’ – Left Line Points 18 miles to the Black Rock, Right Line Points to Desert Siteworks Camp, 1993
    • 5#5a Photograph: Truss Bridge, Ditch Serpent and Camera Tent at Dusk – Trego, 1993
    • 5#6a Photograph: Trego: Desert Yurt, Ritual Pavilion, Truss Bridge – Trego, 1993, (work print entitled: Desert Yurt, Temple + Truss Bridge, Mid-day on Summer Solstice, Trego-1993), 1993
    • 5#7a Photograph: Fire For Lighting the Lingam Carried Aloft by Man in a Skirt (work print entitled: Siren Suzanne Sitting in for the Sun – Trego Bridge, 1993, Fire For Lighting the Lingam Carried Aloft by Man in Skirt), 1993
    • 5#8a Photograph: First Lingham Fire – Trego, 1993 c/o Pepe Ozan, RIP
    • 5#9a Photograph: On Becoming a Shadow, Trego, 1993
    • 5#10a Photograph: Ditch Serpent and Full Moon – Desert Trance + Altered States – Trego, 1993
    • 5#11a Photograph: Temple Projections with Train Lights – Trego, 1993
    • 5#12a Photograph: Desert Yurt at Trego – Center Camp – with Paradox Pollack, 1993
    • 5#13a Photograph: Birthing Wisdom at Trego Hot Ditch: – Ritual/Performance Lasting 48 Continuous Hours (early morning on Summer Solstice) – 1993, (work print entitled: Birth Canal, Trego, Early am – 48 hour Continuous Improvisation Based on a Human Life Span – 1993), 1993
    • 5#14a Photograph: Maturity – 48-Hour Ritual Performance – Woodhenge, Trego, 1993 (work print entitled: Performance at Woodhenge, Transcontinental RR Line - S. Solstice, 1993, Adult's Ephiphany w/ witness in Ceremonial Chair - dusk + night - Trego), 1993
    • 5#15a Photograph: Infancy and Childhood at Three Desert Settlers Camps, Trego 1993 (work print entitled: Desert Passion Play – 48-Hour Human Lifespan Performance, Infancy and Childhood at Three Desert Settlers Camps), 1993
    • 5#16a Photograph: Waiting for the News – Death Comes – Trego, 1993
    • 5#17a Photograph: Suicide-Six, Trego, 1993
    • 5#18a Photograph: Storytelling Leap of Light-Fire, Trego, 1993
    • 5#19a Photograph: Ritual Pavilion, Shot Through with Light; Shamanic Drumming, Spirits Now Come – Take Flight (sunset + night) – Trego, 1993 (work print entitled: Shot Through with Light – Summer Solstice Sunset + Night – Trego 1993, Ritual Pavilion (Temple), Shamanic Drumming- Spirits Tahoe Flight)
    • 5#20a Photograph: Summer Solstice Sunset: Human Alignment – Trego, 1993, (work print entitled: Summer Solstice Sunset Human Alignment – Trego, 1993, In the Moments Before Sunset – Each Person Standing on the Whole Group’s Shadow), 1993
    • 5#21a Photograph: Wedding at Trego Hot Ditch – Todd & Sandra – ‘Dusk to Musk’, Trego, 1994
    • 6#1a Photograph: Rocking Kabbalah: Reconnoiter at Soldiers Meadows, 1994
    • 6#2a Photograph: Celtic Endless Knot (late afternoon) – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#3a Photograph: Celtic Endless Knot (night + day) – Bordello Springs (Frogpond), 1994
    • 6#4a Photograph: Desert Yurt in Forever Twilight –1st Habitable Black Rock ‘Wikiup’ – Bordello Springs, (late afternoon + midnight), 1994
    • 6#5a Photograph: The Library at Bordello Springs (night + dawn), Bordello Springs, 1994, (work print entitled: Bordello Springs Dressing + Library and Lounge – 1994 – Day + Night), 1994
    • 6#6a Photograph: Tableau as the Lovers Card form the Tarot, Bordello Springs (day + night) – Bordello Springs, 1994, (work print entitled: Bordello Springs (Frogpond) – Duet with Projection – 1994 Day + Night – Tableau as the Lovers Card form the Tarot), 1994
    • 6#7a Photograph: Preparing to Move the Station Points – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#8a Photograph: Snuffy the Huffalupagus, Middle of the Night, 1994
    • 6#9a Photograph: Frog Pond Frolic – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#10a Photograph: Procession from Bordello Springs to the Kabbalah Field – Bordello Springs, 1994 (work print entitled: Procession, Kabbalah oasis pool – Bordello Springs), 1994
    • 6#11a Photograph: Kabbalah Field – Bordello Springs (Frog Pond), 1994
    • 6#12a Photograph: Figures in a Landscape – Afternoon of the Kabbalah – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#13a Photograph: Firefly Flash Pops in the Kabbalah Field – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#14a Photograph: Bordello Pool with Lady in Red2 – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#15a Photograph: Bacchanal in Perpetual Twilight – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#16a Photograph: “Lucifer’s Anvil” Golf Course on the Playa – Bordello Springs, 1994
    • 6#17a Photograph: Epilogue with Couch Puppies, 1994

    CAE S-Box 20 Objects

    • 2#3 Photocopy of Conceptual Drawing for unbuilt sculpture entitled “Youthful Folly” (an I-Ching hexagram) representing four pillars of American culture with clothespin, gun, crutch, and hypodermic needle, 1992
    • 2#4 Photocopy of drawing for “Desert Yurt” section through truss, ca. 1993
    • 8#1 DESERT ART: Burning Man art spreads from dust to downtown, Our Nevada Arts & Entertainment, 2014