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The Prairie of Possibilities

Burning Man 2022

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Welcome


The Prairie of Possibilities is a trans-dimensional collector of stories that travels through space and time, alighting wherever there are stories to be shared. Scientists believe it is heading for the Playa; plans are underway to intercept and study this phenomena.

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


The exhibit is about the transformational power of storytelling to generate empathy, inspire connection, and bridge divides. By collecting and sharing stories from people across the world, it is a repository for the collective consciousness of all of humanity. The Prairie is an audacious attempt at answering the fundamental question: “what does it mean to be human?”. It does so by embracing the tension between the things that separate us (e.g. language, gender, socio-eco status, age, etc) and unite us (e.g. shared human emotions and experiences).

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text
The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Video


Imagine a circular field of 7,000+ glowing fiber optic grasses swaying in the wind under the stars. These glowing grasses sprout from 436 bases set in 10 concentric rings. At the Prairie’s center sits a 60’ wide clearing. Participants enter the Prairie from one of the four large glowing portals guarding the perimeter. Four aisles, each 20’ wide, lead from the portals at the perimeter into the central clearing. In the clearing are benches where participants can sit to observe the installation, as well as ‘story capture devices’ that appear as old fashioned telephone booths. Surrounding the entire installation is a ‘research perimeter’ established by 1950s-era scientists. The research perimeter consists of several rudimentary observation platforms, signage, and a small Research Lab. The Lab itself is inside a cargo container filled with maps, articles, notes and illustrations piecing together historical evidence of Prairie sightings since the dawn of time. The fiction of the Prairie is that it is a transdimensional story “ark” – traveling through space and time to heal by collecting and sharing stories. The Prairie is drawn to emotion, which is why it has chosen to land here, now, in the wake of the Covid epidemic.

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text
The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Image


To walk through the Prairie is to stroll through a metaphysical field that (for some mysterious reason) has briefly become visible to the human eye. Participants walk a gently-sloping path among swaying grasses, stroking the glowing fibers. The grass stalks are outfitted with an array of sensors that enable it to respond to participants’ behavior and demonstrate a sense of interactive ‘aliveness’. 

Interactive elements include the glowing Portals, hidden hot-spots throughout the field, the story-collector booths, the echo events that share back with participants, and the Research Lab on the Prairie perimeter.

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


Core team

James Gwertzman // Chief Visionary

Casey Marvin // Creative Director

Ed Allard // Audio Engineering Director

Paul McDaniel // Technical Director

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


Anastasia Mackert // Project Manager
Jessica Creane // Voice artist (stories shared by the entity)
Leo Brown // Technical Designer (booth experience)
Rob Auten // Technical Designer (booth experience)
Robin A. Li // Oral history consultant
Sarah Elmaleh // Voice artist lead (voice of the Entity)
Stan Wiechers // Technical Designer (booth experience)

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


Anastasia Mackert // Project Manager
Benjamin Gebo
Brian Axelrod
Craig Massie
Erin O'Brien
James Gwertzman // Build lead
Leo Brown
Nathan Pegram
Paul McDaniel
Quailynn McDaniel
Simone Engelen

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


Tech specs coming soon.

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text


Playa logistics coming soon.

The Prairie - Burning Man '22: Text
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