In the late 1990’s I was based at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and was very much part of the global Internet art scene. I was in Los Angeles for a conference once and I met Mark Pesce who was one of the originators of desktop VR. As we socialized one evening, I was surprised to find him espousing the virtues of what at the time sounded to me like a neo-pagan gathering in the desert. This was the first time I had heard of the Burning Man festival.
Some years later, in 2006 – 07, as faculty at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Canada, I supervised an MA dissertation titled ‘The return of the gift society: Traditional relations of exchange and trust in contemporary technological society’. My student, was a burner and, as I helped frame her thesis in terms of traditional and technological discourses, I learned about the lived experience of the festival. I was enthralled but still not drawn towards participating in the event.
Eventually, in 2017, following a reunion with my old schoolmate and Burning Man veteran, the late Jason Avery, I was entreated and enabled to attend the festival in 2017. Jason spent so much time and energy drawing me in to the idea of bringing my art to his [The Camp With No Name], resulting in this ‘Anugraham’ series of the koboi project.