Burning Man 2022 Project

Every second about four people are born and two people die. Imbalance viscerally reveals human population growth through digital counters that track worldwide births and deaths since the gate opened. By the end of the week, Imbalance will report about 3,400,000 births and 1,400,000 deaths.

The dynamic aspect of Imbalance lets participants feel changes in human population. The counters advance unsteadily, connecting strongly with each birth and death. The responses to this connection are revealed in a blank book which is attached to a small shelf along with a pen on a string, just as in my prior three playa art pieces: Worthy, Bluster, and Mortorious. If the past is a guide, participants will surprise us with their responses to the piece and to each other’s comments.

The purpose of Imbalance is to enlighten. Until 2019, I did not comprehend how much greater the worldwide birth rate is compared to the worldwide death rate. The inescapable increase in human population on Earth only can worsen global warming as more people’s thirst for energy releases more carbon into the atmosphere. As a survivor of the 2020 California wildfires, I know that my own belongings won’t burn again, but everyone else will suffer as nature rebalances vegetation through fire for a hotter, drier climate. Our use of energy affects everyone else, not just us. This “market externality” only can be countered through government action, and democratic governments only will act when the people demand it. This piece is only a first step: to help others understand that increasing population is inevitable. While Imbalance does not attempt to link present human inaction with future suffering, the simplicity of the message makes it strong and—one hopes—memorable.

The piece is solar powered. A solar panel is mounted on the back.

Artwork on the sides is TBD. The front design could change, but the counters’ locations will remain.

Here is the current design packet PDF.