Red Echo

September 12, 2009

I’m back. The cube project was a great success. We’d never built the whole thing before, but we’d prototyped enough of its components to be confident, and indeed the whole thing worked. It was solved for the first time on Tuesday night, and again every night thereafter – difficult enough to be a challenge, but achievable enough to be tantalizing.

I didn’t actually want to be out in the desert this time around, so I had a few rough days after the construction work was done, but with help from some friends I eventually had a good time. Seven years is enough, however: I am never again taking a tent to the playa. If I go back – and it seems likely that I will, however I may feel right now – I’ll bring something to live in that is windproof, dustproof, lightproof, and tall enough I can stand upright.

It was really satisfying to be involved in one of the biggest, most recognizable art projects on the playa. We got a lot of media coverage and our project was one of the regular stops on the mutant-vehicle tour circuit. People loved it and wanted to tell us how much they loved it.

At the same time, it was hard to know how to feel about it. This is the first time I have been part of a large team project that actually succeeded. When I’ve been part of successful projects, I’ve been able to take pride in what I’ve accomplished, and when I’ve been part of large team projects, they’ve been heaving corporate disasters where I had no control over the outcome. How do you take pride in your small part of an accomplishment someone else was primarily responsible for? I don’t want to take credit for work other people did, but it feels like false modesty to take no credit at all. I don’t know how to think about this.