burning man

The Largest Touring Immersive Art Experience Is Bringing 50 Burning Man Style Sculptures to Las Vegas Before It Hits the Road

Forget animated light projections. Transfix, the latest in immersive art experiences, will bring 50 interactive, kinetic, illuminated artworks—including pyrotechnics—to Las Vegas, in the first stop of a planned tour that will bring monumental, festival-style works to cities across the U.S.

The project is the brainchild of Michael Blatter and Tom Stinchfield of New York marketing agency Mirrorball. They originally conceived of the idea during the pandemic as a free, COVID-friendly event staged in Brooklyn Bridge Park that would support artists who normally made work for large-scale festivals like the Burning Man gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

“These things shouldn’t be gathering dust in a warehouse—they should be out on the road, they should be installed somewhere where people can enjoy them and be as inspired by them as we are,” Stinchfield told Midnight Publishing Group News.

“Most of the artists who make these big pieces for these events are only doing it out of passion, which is really beautiful. But afterward, it’s often out of their pocket to bring it back to wherever they may live, and store it in a warehouse or their studio, and they end up losing money,” he added. “It’s a very niche market to to sell a piece of art that’s five stories tall!”

Stinchfield and Blatter actually met years ago through a mutual friend who suggested Stinchfield might benefit creatively from accompanying Blatter on one of his annual trips to Burning Man.

“Michael said, ‘I’m not gonna take some random person to Burning Man.’ We had lunch, and about a week later we were sharing an RV in the desert,” Stinchfield recalled.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park project to showcase the kind of art they encountered there never came to fruition. But it did become the basis of the business plan for Transfix, which the duo likens to a high-production value rock tour for experiential art.

They hope that Transfix will help create a broader audience for the ambitious, large-scale works created for Burning Man and other similar events. (Only half of the art was originally created for the Nevada gathering.)

Christopher Bauder & KiNK, <em>AXION</em>. Photo by Ralph Larmann, courtesy of the artist and Transfix.

Christopher Bauder & KiNK, AXION. Photo by Ralph Larmann, courtesy of the artist and Transfix.

“This is art that was never created within the existing museum and gallery infrastructure,” Blatter told Midnight Publishing Group News. “This art is gigantic, it’s illuminated, some of it’s fire-breathing—it’s certainly not traditional museum-style art.”

Transfix aims to create a new source of income for this kind of work by paying participating artists a rental fee for their artworks.

“We can give artists predictable income, and free up space in their studios while giving these pieces a place to be seen and recognized by the masses,” Stinchfield said, noting that many of the artists they approached were so eager to stop having to store these works that they would have happily lent them for free.

The Las Vegas edition will open at Resorts World in April, and will run through at least September—although that could be extended if things go well.

Marco Cochrane, <em>R-Evolution</em>. Photo courtesy of the artist and TRANSFIX.

Marco Cochrane, R-Evolution. Photo courtesy of the artist and TRANSFIX.

There will be works by artists such as Marco Cochrane, Foldhaus Collective, Christopher Schardt, Playmodes, HOTTEA, and Kevin Clark. The largest work is Christopher Bauder and KiNK’s Axion, a 10,000-square-foot illuminated sonic experiential installation that has never been shown in the U.S.

“We’re taking the underbelly of a 747 to fly that piece over here from Berlin,” Stinchfield said.

Works will be on view in 130 shipping containers in a sprawling 200,000 square-foot outdoor venue, with two-story viewing platforms to experience the monumental art from multiple vantage points—plus 10 bars where you can grab a drink. (Exploring the entire maze-like exhibition is expected to take about two hours.)

“It will be a great place to hang out and experience art in a whole new way,” Blatter said.

Pablo González Vargas, <em>ILUMINA</em>. Photo courtesy of the artist and TRANSFIX.

Pablo González Vargas, ILUMINA. Photo courtesy of the artist and TRANSFIX.

If Transfix’s ticket sales prove profitable, the proceeds will be used to commission new works for future residencies, with plans for stops in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Chicago.

“I’ve been participating as a sculpture artist at Burning Man since 1999, and I can tell you Burning Man creative culture is a gold mine of large-scale art. We pioneered massive, immersive and experiential art out there in that dessert,” Kate Raudenbush, whose 25-foot mirrored pyramid As Above, So Below is one of the inaugural works at Transfix, told Midnight Publishing Group News in an email.

She’s tired of being told that displaying her monumental works for free will provide valuable “exposure,” and is eager to create even bigger and more ambitious projects as Transfix takes off.

“I’m already dreaming up new ideas!” Raudenbush said.

“The ultimate goal is to build a creative ecosystem where people can be inspired by this art, but also give artists space to create,” Stinchfield added. “What we’re most excited about is writing that first check to an artist commissioning a piece that they’ve dreamed of their whole life that nobody would ever fund.”

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The Art Angle Podcast: Our 5 Favorite Episodes of the Year

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Midnight Publishing Group News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.


There are a lot of things about 2020 that we’d all like to forget, but bright spots still shined through, too, including here on the Art Angle.

To celebrate the podcast’s first full year, our producers compiled a chronological quintet of their favorite episodes from the past 12 months. They cover ups, downs, and in-betweens; activists standing up, fugitives running for cover, and outsiders building something new; art history, the political present, and what might come next.

Put it all together, and the collection provides a whirlwind audio tour through a kaleidoscopic year in the borderlands where the art world meets the real world.

Listen below and subscribe to the Art Angle on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. (Or catch up on past episodes here on Midnight Publishing Group News.)


1. How the Art World Fell Under the Spell of the Occult – January 28

If you’ve ever wondered how or why pagan imagery, witchcraft, spiritualism, and other branches of the occult became one of the most prominent propellers driving contemporary art today, author and critic Eleanor Heartney has the answers you seek, traveler.


2. How an Art-Dealing Prodigy Became the Market’s Most Wanted Outlaw – March 3

Midnight Publishing Group News senior market reporter Eileen Kinsella charts the rise and fall of Inigo Philbrick, the fast-rising young dealer who disappeared into the mist after a slew of lawsuits cast his success as a product of fraud rather than business savvy. (Philbrick was eventually apprehended on a South Pacific island in June.)


3. Four Artists on the Front Lines of the George Floyd Protests – June 5

Ebony Brown, Candy Kerr, Marcus Leslie Singleton, and Darryl Westly give searing firsthand accounts of their experiences as Black American artists who turned to collective action in the wake of the tragedy that pushed social and racial justice to the forefront of the national conversation.


4. The Secret Art History of Burning Man – August 27

Burning Man cofounder and photographer Will Roger takes listeners on a rollicking odyssey through the counterculture festival’s history, from its origin as a casual beach party between friends, to a global phenomenon in the Black Rock Desert that is rewriting the definition of 21st century art.


5. Ed Ruscha and Jimmy Iovine on How Art Can End the Trump Era – October 28 

It’s not often you get to hear one of contemporary art’s greatest living talents hold court with one of music’s greatest living producers on the sociocultural power of art, but it happened here on the Art Angle just ahead of the 2020 presidential election. (You can also find the transcript here.)
Thanks for listening, and see you next year!

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