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Disco Fish and Snails on Wheels: The Amazing Vehicles of Burning Man 2012

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Most people assume Burning Man is just this mecca of sex and drugs. It isn't. Well, it is, but that's a much smaller part of the picture than people make it out to be.

A major part of the event is the collection of hundreds of incredible sculptures on wheels just rolling across the desert. Here are a few of the art car highlights from the week so far.

Brent is reporting live from Burning Man all week, in a possibly fruitless attempt to convince Joe that this trip should not come out of his vacation time.


We've already introduced you to the gigantic fire-spitting scorpion, but that's just the beginning. There are literally hundreds of art cars—tiny, dressed-up golf carts, all the way up to double-decker, extended buses and Mack trucks. There are enormous Magic Carpets, and gigantic Volkswagon Beetles. There are Purple Palaces that aren't particularly artistic, but they make up for it with the amount of humans that can squeeze onboard. Fire-shooting octipodes. Vaginas on wheels? Sure, why not. And, of course, many pirate ships.


This rainbow-colored spaceship slowly ascending in the video above, which belongs to the Dancetonauts, is built on top of a Ford F800 chassis. It has a 22-foot zipper lift on it that can lift 22,000 pounds. It was hand-built in a back yard with no blueprint—just a handful of guys with welding torches, making it up as they went. The original was built in just one month, which is completely insane. It's on its third body now. It has roughly 1,800 LEDs controlled by arduinos. The speakers are Class A amps with Community drivers, and they pump out a lot of sound, but they normally have a trailer with a 100,000 watt sound system on it (unfortunately, it broke down on its way out to the desert). And yes, you can rent it for your party.


One that really captured my heart is the Disco Fish. It's a gigantic angler fish on a bus, with 800 LED-illuminated scales, driven by a customized version of Total Control Lighting Software. It's outfitted with a color-changing, 7-kilowatt searchlight that absolutely cuts through the sky. There's a computer-controlled giant flamethrower, of course, and a disco-ball and stripper pole. In fact, the Disco Fish was extremely hard to photograph for Gizmodo, because there were so many topless women dancing on it. It had to be the first time in my life that I actually thought, "Ugh, would these beautiful, topless women please go away?"

What really makes the Disco Fish stand out, though, is its autonomous capabilities. You know those self-driving cars we've been hearing about forever? This gigantic fish is one of them. Using GPS, it can navigate itself around the desert. Most of the time it has a driver behind the wheel, so it doesn't run over any revelers, but the fact that it can do it at all is amazing. I can't wait to ghost-ride the fish.


Your move, Google.

[Apologies for the low-quality video. Internet in the desert is uh, yeah, internet in the desert.]