The Journey by 
Dan "Sparkplug" Reeves

Artist Name
Dan “Sparkplug” Reeves


Title of Arwork / Year
The Journey, Burning Man 2017


Project Budget / Did it receive a grant from SDCAP?
$84,775 including materials, tools, electronics, transportation, lodging and food for workers, clean up and disposal. We were granted a total of $12,000 cash, in two rounds, from SDCAP for the project. They also provided $16,500 of in-kind donations of work and storage space as well as specialized tool usage.


What's your background?
Furniture store owner with a degree in sculpture and a love of making things. First Burn in 2010, I knew by 2012 that I wanted to make something big. Did 5 years later.

Tell us about the concept and inspiration for this piece.
On Playa in 2012 I saw an art piece called Cubatron Core, a large light installation that was mounted about 20 feet in the air. As I lay underneath I thought it would be really cool to go running around inside it. With a love of furniture and of creating and holding space, I conceived of an all-wood, 8ft tall corridor that was about 100 ft long in a never ending  circle.  Some tinkering and playing with that idea lead to the double-helix, 7-spoke’d repeating element design of The Journey.

What tools and software did you use?
CNC Laser / CNC Router / Electronics E-lab / Community  Workspace / Wood Shop

What was the step-by-step process involved in building this project?

After coming up with the general structure, and some basic math work,  I modeled the pieces in Illustrator and cut out what I needed on ⅛ plywood using the laser cutter.  I began constructing  a 1/12th scale model of the entire piece in early 2016. After completing  the model, I used it to recruit a bunch of my Burner friends to help me pull the project together and to raise money for a full-size “proof-of-concept” to be shown at Youtopia 2016 (The Journey Run, Art Grant Recipient). That got the ball rolling and introduced our group to the great people at CoLab.

After Youtopia, we began fundraising in earnest for a planned full installation of all 36 revolutions in a complete torus for Burning Man 2017. We held two large fundraisers (Our Mission Hills FUNraiser and Noche de Fuego) and traveled around the southwestern United States installing  what we had completed at Regional Burns and other art festivals. We reached out to the community to find available volunteers to work on everything from fundraising, event installations, electronics fabrication, and the sound components of the project. The community stepped up. By the end of the project over 150 pairs of hands had been involved in some capacity and most of that work happened at CoLab in Mission Gorge.

We trained people on the CNC Router to cut out the 3500+ pieces of the project, and qualified volunteers to use power tools to hand finish each piece, using 155 sheets of ¾” baltic birch plywood. We burned our own custom circuit boards to control the 36,000 lights involved and created a complete soundscape for a full tactile, aural and visual experience at Burning Man.

By August 2017 we were on our way to Burning Man for our 20th and first complete installation of the project. We were on Playa for 3½  weeks, getting the entire project and base camp there in a 26 foot diesel truck. Base camp consisted of 24 volunteers. After Burning Man the entire piece came back to San Diego and was installed with artistic modification as the Temple at Youtopia 2017 (The Sacred Journey, Temple Grant Recipient).

The intention was that all of the diverted plywood would be mulched after YOUtopia 2017 and returned to landscaping projects in San Diego. This largely happened, bringing an end to the first chapter of the Journey Project. Part of the Temple from YOUtopia, a 15 foot tall obelisk, was taken the following year and burned as part of the Burning Man Temple Galaxia, in 2018, bringing full closure to The Journey Project and its work in the community.

Biggest headache creating the project
Cramming too much into one project, the base idea would have been more than enough… we just got so darned excited!

Greatest triumph with the project
The importance of fostering community. Understanding the value of letting go of control and the benefits of group effort/cooperation. For all of those that were builders or crew, the bonding that came from working together on a big project and the confidence to make big things happen.

Would you do it again?
Sure thing

Are there new projects in the works?
I have several, bucking about trying to get out of  the old noggin… and the Playa still is the best canvas I’ve seen for large-scale community driven art.

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