Burns are a place where we are pushed and pulled, each of us discovering our own glitches and fears that might need a little friendly knock-about, metaphorically speaking, to shake things up. Alchemy has had its fair share of glitches, and this year we’re celebrating all the taps and shakes our community has given to keep us going. Our 2018 theme, “Percussive Maintenance,” is the art of going in what seems like the opposite way (shakin’ and breakin’) to solve a problem or discover new truths.
Thanks to Chelle for the awesome theme!
There have been any number of pointy obstacles that nearly punctured our fragile little burn bubble this past year. But after 11 years, it's more than just an obligatory determination that keeps us going. There's a lively and enthusiastic tenacity from all of us - participants, TCOs, artists, leadership, the board, and our committee members - to continue holding this space that so many of us hold so near and dear to our hearts. That's what this theme celebrates; the high-spirited and resilient.
Tickets haven't even gone on sale, yet participants are asking how they can volunteer, artists are poring over their projects, theme camps are organizing, and leadership are sitting in planning meetings. This thing we do is fun and hard, exhilarating and exhausting, home and impermanent, and it all deserves celebration.
So, prepare the celebratory bubbly beverages and whatever uplifts your soul, and let's have some shenanigans while we build this silly, beautiful thing in the woods!
See you at home!
This is year 10 of Alchemy (deca). We began our journey in this world of burning with fewer than 100 burners total in the State of Georgia. We decided to create an experience that even we did not fully understand, and one in which we could experiment and grow, and one in which we challenged ourselves and each other. A lot of the ways we chose to do that are considered "decadent" by society outside of burn culture.
What is decadence? One person's sin is another person's salvation. May we, in this, our 10th year, take the time to look around us and embrace ourselves and each other, and dance with our memories. May we welcome new people to our indulgences, and welcome the return of those who came before. May we all learn from the past, and blaze decadently and fantastically into our future, here, together.
We invite all Alchemists to work together in different and exciting ways! We encourage theme camps and artists to collaborate and fuse together to become something entirely unexpected. This year we will celebrate juxtaposition! Do you have an idea that’s never quite come to fruition because your resources were limited? This is the year to make that happen! Remember: WE are the burn. All of us. Together. What sort of Alchemical Amalgamation will you become?
“The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.” –Franz Kafka
You begin by entering an unknown world to pursue a quest: your personal story. Like the heroes of the ancient world, you have set out to fill a blank slate - Tabula Rasa - with the deeds and tales of your own herculean epic. This gift of emptiness allows new experiences and challenges to make an imprint on you, and shape the person you will become.
As individuals, we start as consciousness, but we have no context. See things through the eyes of a virgin. Like tabula rasa, everything we build and create starts from nothing. You step onto an empty farm, and two days later- it’s exploding with LEDs and fire.
However, the whole of your burn experience comes from your perception. How can your perception be shifted and changed? Do you trust your own perception? What experience here - art, interaction, or otherwise - will change your perception permanently?
By allowing yourself to wipe away everything the default world has taught you: preconceptions, assumptions, rules, and misconceptions, you turn everything on its head. This leaves only your experiences and perception in this city to create the whole of who you are.
Challenge yourself to face a conundrum - you are both the author of your personal story, and at the same time, the protagonist among a community of stars. Like you, they are seeking their stories in the transcendental and ephemeral experience of the burn. Where does your experience fit in this narrative?
Our city will attempt to reveal itself to you in many different ways, whether it be through omens, mentors or signs. During our city’s brief existence, you will experience many challenges. Some may be obvious, some may not. They may be physical, mental, or emotional. Some members of the community hold challenges for you that can only be unlocked through specific feats. Find them, and you will be rewarded. Know that each obstacle shapes and changes you, imprinting itself on your soul.
During your journey ask yourself these questions as you face the obstacles presented to you:
What will this burn teach you? What imprint are you leaving on your fellow participants? The community? The world?
How are you shaped by your experiences and perception?
How often is your impact deliberate? How much control and direction do you wish to have?
What will we as a community bring into fruition?
A Catalyst is something that promotes a reaction between other things without losing anything of itself. Our community is full of Catalysts. The burn can be a catalyst between its participants. A participant can be a catalyst between other participants. One person’s art can be a catalyst for another person’s vision and initiative. When we gather, the entire community helps itself to change and react inside itself-- growing, creating and becoming something more by simply reacting to each other. Our community can also reach outside itself and be a Catalyst for change in the world, by simply showing who we are and allowing others to see the splendor of what we do.
Alchemy 2012 was the first year with a ticket cap.
You look around the party, and across the room you see the most flamboyantly dressed man you have ever seen in your life. He has a spiked blue mohawk, tall leather boots, a sparkling teal shirt and purple pantaloons. Around his waist, he is wearing a cloth belt with many metal loops on it, off of which hang various items that seem wholly unnecessary for a party. He looks somewhat out of place for this art event, but seems remarkably happy and completely comfortable. You can't help but watch him as he makes his way around the room, hugging people and smiling, drink in hand.
You walk outside for a bit. The event is being held in an old warehouse building, the outside of which is poorly maintained. The poorly lit ground is littered with rocks and sticks. You walk to a set of chairs that you see a few yards away and sit down for a moment. It's nice outside, although given that it is downtown Atlanta, you cannot see the stars. After a few minutes some people sit down around you in the other chairs. They are all chatting quietly.
You look over to see that one of the newcomers is the blue mohawk guy. You find yourself staring a bit longer than is polite, and then your heart jumps when he catches your eye. He smiles at you. He must be used to people staring.
"Hi, I haven't met you. I'm Bacchus."
You introduce yourself, and soon, you find yourself deep in conversation with Bacchus. An hour passes in what feels like seconds. The conversation shifts to Burning Man, and Bacchus' eyes light up.
Bacchus asks, "Have you heard of Alchemy? It's a regional burn that happens at the end of September this year in Northwest Georgia." You tell him that you have never heard of Alchemy, although you've read an article or two about Burning Man. Bacchus gives you a short overview, and you are instantly intrigued. You tell him you think you might like to go with him to Alchemy this year.
"I have to run," Bacchus says, "I have things I need to do early tomorrow. But do you want to get together later and talk about Alchemy planning?" You agree, and Bacchus gives you a quick hug and leaves.
In this modern age, humans often assume that the survival of their species is assured. We possess the power to mold our environment to our will, even while we cannot hope to understand the ultimate impact of those choices. However, like all species, humans must adapt to survive. Adaptation to extreme pressures requires an organism to undergo radical changes. The quickest way that an organism can leap up the evolutionary ladder is through mutation and recombination. It is now time to take that leap. What mutation will you undergo to ensure your own survival? What recombination will make the essence of Alchemy viable? What shape does our newly-evolved world take? Mutate or die
A key is the essential human instrument for opening locks, decoding ciphers, and revealing treasures. It is said that keys define the person -- that we are somehow measured by how many keys we carry.
However, locks are also created by human hands. If so, then we are defined as much by our locks as by our keys.
The skeleton is the framework of life and the hook upon which we hang the flesh of our existence. It is an image which evokes both horror and celebration. The skeleton can be simultaneously intriguing and frightening, inviting us to embrace death and life in the same breath.
The Skeleton Key opens all locks, banishes all wards, makes all things available. It is the solution to the puzzle, the path through the maze, and the secret decoder ring. For it to be useful, you must find the lock that needs unlocking, discover the code that must be broken, and be willing to see what lies beyond. You are the Skeleton Key.
Unlock your experience
The term "shock and awe" was originally coined to describe a military doctrine technically known as rapid dominance, whereby overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force are used to paralyze and demoralize an adversary, leaving them exhausted and incapable of resistance. In 2009, Alchemy will reclaim these words from their military usage and employ the concepts of "shock and awe," not to demoralize, but to empower; not to paralyze, but to move you.
Webster's defines "awe" as an overwhelming feeling of reverence or admiration produced by what is grand, sublime and extremely powerful.
Many find those same feelings aroused by the power of the burn. In 2009, we set for ourselves the challenge of taking that an evolutionary step further, by exploring our own limits and our ability to surpass them together. What shocks you? What leaves you awestruck? Fire at will."