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Artifactual Intelligence

(A Fire Inside Instillation by Timeless)

For Burning Man 2018, themed I Robot, a familiar cast of massive, carved wooden characters returned to the magical Black Rock City. These are the only playa artifacts known to survive their own burn. This is a collection of metaphysically attuned wooden artifacts, all having achieved metamorphosis by Fire Inside, over the course of a decade, in BRC. To unravel the story, participants are invited to begin at artifact #1 and follow the numbered postings as the monuments ascend toward The Temple.

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Tuesday evening, star apprentice and crew lead, Joseph “Joey” Stanton captures a flame from the sacred cauldron at Center Camp; carries it across the playa to Timeless. At sunset the burning ritual ensues, celebrated with a troop of outstanding fire dancers. Timeless directs participants using an array of copper tubes, spritzer bottles and bellows. And this is how we cast our spell that night, into the very sculpture that started it all: Reign of Anarchy. (See below.)

This art installation, Artifactual Intelligence has a metaphysical trigger called Fire Inside; the mysterious ancient burning style rediscovered by Timeless and the Fire Meister’s apprentices. A whisper of the playa itself, the backwards burn technique has become ritual that harnesses earth, wind, fire, water and spirit. Mixed with the very breath of Burners, this potent brew results in enduring talismen; each charged with a mission of its own.

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Dirty Santa- Fire Spinning with Instilla

The burn is mesmerizing, even by Fire Inside, standards, with Tibetan chanting thinly audible over the din of the playa. Glassy-eyed people watch in silence the curious sight, a few sob for no apparent reason or say things they don’t know the origin of, insights had, hearts fill with glee! Hugs abound. Not knowing the true source of the spell, most thank the Fire Meister deeply but it’s the Fire Inside doing work.


This new talisman, steaming and ticking is tasked with expanding the scope of Liberty to meet the challenge of Artificial Intelligence. Yes, even as we scramble to understand AI. Liberty holds power accountable, but can it counter AI-linked robotics -- in a medium prone to nefarious forces?

Enlightened cultures of forgotten times had powerful technologies too. They also had impossible structures and artworks that naturally align their civilization’s values over the amnesia of time. And just maybe ... so do we…


That narrative of postings read as follows:

Artifact #1

Reign of Anarchy…

Began as Nexus, an innocent 10 foot Statue of Liberty(esque’) sculpture designed for Green Man, 2007, right next to the porta-potties on 3:00. Still being carved, she was centerpiece for the installation, America Enlightening the World … Again. She was attacked by arson the same year and so was the Man.

An outraged Burner posted pictures of the devastated sculpture, the artist’s display trailer, scaffolding and carving tools, then someone posted about it in the JRS and kind burners had soon pitched in some $5k, asking only for Timeless to get his ass back to BRC with more art. Those helpful Burners must be happy about what happened next...


That arson on Liberty sparked much more than wood. It ignited a passion that drives the artist’s evolving, traveling art installation all about the extreme antiquity and hopes for the future of Liberty.

Artifact #2

Hand of Order…

Arrived, also still in progress, at just about the stage Anarchy had been silenced, just in time for


American Dream, 2008, again by the porta-potties. The artist climbed his scaffold, fired his chainsaw and resumed carving. Now she stood on a massive stump pedestal, alongside “Order” and that installation was titled The Choice. Doused for days with lamp oil, Timeless lit his fire, intending a retirement burn. Glorious flames ensued but by morning the lady had refused to consume -- but the stump she stood on was almost gone! Both lay smoldering, side-by-side....


In 2009, for Evolution, “Order” returned, completed with finish, standing untethered in her own pedestal, a sculpture in itself called The Pyre. By now the artworks were being shared in Default … and so the wandering installation had a name: Liberty (R)evolution.  


In 2015, for Carnival of Mirrors, Timeless’ requested his artworks be placed close as possible to the Temple. The installation was called Smoke and Mirrors. After many smaller burns, Timeless and crew ignited a fire in her heart, like what he had seen happen to Anarchy’s stump, the fire that had consumed it from the inside out.

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Artifact #3


Arrived and was consecrated on playa for Cargo Cult, 2013. The wooden cauldron cracked with Fire Inside so hot, and always helpful Burners found a way to participate on their own; either blowing through tubes or spritzing at Timeless’ instruct.


As well, the ceremonial aspects of the burn were revealing themselves. When else can anyone experience a whole tree sharing its life force. We began to notice that observers felt compelled to kneel, bow, genuflect before our fires inside the wood. Some danced or sang, some hugged the sculptures, cool to the touch despite the blistering fire inside...


People often seemed shocked by the things they would say or even think about... Just who were these gods that showed us these fire tricks? The same ones lit a fire inside humanity too called passion. Their teachings liberated us from ignorance and showed us the way to civilization … a way called Liberty...

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Artifact #4

Anunnaki Watch…

Was shared and committed by Fire Inside for Cargo Cult, 2013. Back to back, two monuments burned at 2:00 and Esplanade that year.


The great Sphinx of Egypt looks back to before civilization’s current reboot, past the floods, the impacts, the quakes, before the ice ages to when space gods lit a fire inside humanity to liberate us from  ignorance. They even gave us a tool to keep our freedom attuned, an ideal we call Liberty.


Fire Inside burns much hotter than any bonfire and much longer. Some people report an inner space opening to them, deeper than a conventional burn, more like a Temple burn but longer lasting …


Artifact #5

Unification Theory…

Was closest to the Temple of any artworks for Smoke and Mirrors. She burned there too, a practice burn for Hand of Order. This sculpture is one of six similar works that make up “The Guardians of Liberty” and they always attend Timeless’ themed installation.


The artist felt guidance that night, compelled to employ the burns that make talismen, each charged with a mission of its own. We did not know how but participants, with water were showed us the way. It happens with their juju. Timeless began to feel a sort of spark leap a gap when the water overcame the fire.


Timeless decided with that burn that the Temple was the destination. Not content to just burn outside, we believe that someday we will perform a consecration inside the Temple...

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Artifact #6

Promethean Passion…


Was consecrated by Fire Inside for Radical Ritual, closer to the Temple burn barrier than any art on-palya in 2018. Now a powerful ritual inspired by that very god of fire who liberated humanity by teaching us to burn. This Minuteman, all caught up in revolution; a wisp of a towering man, like Liberty itself, leaps the chasm to true enlightenment.


Liberty (R)evolution is now some 15 monuments strong, some still in progress or waiting to burn. Six are owned by private investors who leave them with Timeless and his apprentices to maintain them through Burning events and long-term community sharings -- thereby seasoning their value.


This investment model, is called “Fundiversify” and has its own chapter in our Philosophical Center’s ebook, “Building a Renaissance in Your Backyard”. The innovative investment model, like Liberty (R)evolution and Fire Inside interact, to pass the flame of Liberty to a new generation by way of the freedom loving Burning Community.


Stay tuned...

Background (Commission wood carvings):

Contact the artist: Matthew “Timeless” Welter / Tel: (775) 230-1718 

Location and mailing: 19163 Scotts Flat rd. Nevada City, CA 95959

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