26 October 2008

Fluffer - A Mister Jellyfish Art Proposal for Burning Man 2009

Greetings, my Burny friend. Since returning from Burning Man I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved rest. Please know that at this important, decompressing time I will not ask you to show up for a work day, lift a tool, or move anything heavy with the exception of… your mind. As for mine, it’s still excreting ideas and concepts that are either my process of letting go of The Burn or art that just might end up on the playa in 2009. I have learned from you and from our mutual friends to test these ideas and see if they resonate with people I respect before committing too much time to them.

So I’d like to tug on your big furry playa coat about an art installation idea that came to me recently. If you kindly would, please set aside about six minutes and watch the following video. Headphone listening is a must, as is selecting the “full screen” option icon at the bottom right of the video. Please do not watch this video if you have a history of epilepsy or an aversion to hypnosis of any kind. If it has an effect on you that you think is interesting, please take the time to read the text below that explains the project, and ping me back with your observations and comments. Although the concept is still in its infant stage, I’d really appreciate your take on this. OK, here’s the link to the video:

…and here’s the explanation of the concept:

2009 Burning Man Grant Proposal
Initial Demo Draft


by Damian Janssen

aka Mister Jellyfish

Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved.


Remember when you were a child, being handed your pajamas right out of the dryer? That warm, soft, enveloping feeling combined with the comforting fragrance of fabric softener? Imagine that same feeling magnified ten-fold through hypnotic trance and the fact that you are enjoying it on a cold evening on the open playa. This simple yet powerfully pleasant experience is “Fluffer”.

In the midst of your adventures in Black Rock City, you come upon a giant furry puppy head with luminescent, color-changing fur that is hard to resist petting. An attendant invites you to interact by producing an article of clothing and you hand them your fuzzy playa coat. Just before you start to shiver from the cold, they wrap you in the warmth of a long, comfy puppy ear, ask you a few questions, then fit you with a pair of headphones. You find yourself coddled in comfort, and facing one of Fluffer’s hypnotic spiral eyes that slowly begins to spin.

A seductive female voice identifies herself as “Fluffer” as she begins to speak directly to you through the headphones. She relaxes you and entices you to look deeper into the spiral. It almost feels as if her enchanting voice is caressing your brain from the inside as you fall into sweet, hypnotic surrender.

For six minutes, you enjoy a customized experience, based upon your answers to the previous questions. It allows you to turn off the mind-boggling and often exhausting stimuli around you. Deeper into Fluffer you go as you lean back into the soft puppy-ear hammock and snuggle down into a deep and safe place. Fluffer soothes and comforts you as she opens your mind and senses for the final part of the experience.

When finally you disengage from the spiral eye and puppy ear, the attendant approaches you with something familiar… your fuzzy playa coat, but something is different. As they fold your coat around you, you feel an enveloping new warmth surrounding you, combined with the familiar, comforting fragrance of fabric softener and you just want to melt. The degree to which you enjoy this special moment has a lot to do with your voluntary acceptance of the previous hypnotic suggestions.

Finally, the attendant places a lanyard around your neck, attached to which is the gift of YOUR OWN LINT wrapped like a flower in the dryer fabric softener sheet used. You are further given the opportunity to participate by helping the next person in line as one of the best parts of bliss is sharing it with others.


To accommodate two participants at a time, the Fluffer pup employs two commercial clothes dryers for eyes with hypnotic spirals imbedded on the drums. The warm air exhaust of these is piped directly beneath the participants feet (for toasty toes). The questions the attendant asks of the participant prior to the experience are entered into the computer that selects from multiple audio programs that are pieced together as one continuous thread over the six minute playing time in the participant’s headphones. The questions may include: “Do you own a dog?; Is it a boy or girl?; Do you wear pajamas?; How do you want to feel?”. An alternate audio program played through overhead speakers explains to observers and those in line what is happening and discourages them from touching or talking to the participant until they retrieve their coat at the end of the experience-- at which point it’s “hugs all around”. New LED and fiber optic technologies facilitate the slow color change of Fluffer’s fur, serving as an attractant to playa travelers far and wide.

Theme Relevance- Evolution: The Tangled Bank

No species on the planet has had more forced breeding than the dog. For millennia, humans have imposed natural selection based upon the dog’s ability to pull a sled or assist in hunting or protection. More recently in history, canine breading has been more influenced by human pleasure factors that include temperament, attractive coats, and “cuteness”. Although documented breeding is common, even the lowly mutt is a result of centuries of human influence on a rather “unnatural selection”. When a species reaches such a refined level of imposed evolution, a level of “forced feedback” becomes apparent.

Since pets are not permitted at Burning Man, many participants miss their dogs. Some even find themselves using their “dog voice”, a manner of speaking they usually reserve for their “best friend” companion as they long for its company. Many owners over time start to behave and look like their dog. The bond between human and canine is so strong that we even follow them around to pick up their poop! Do they now train us? Is there a correlation between the master/pet relationship and dominant/submissive practices in human courtship? What influence over human breading do dogs now possess? You’re not going to get to second base with your new lover unless you at least pretend to like their dog.

The Fluffer experience cuts to a core relationship between human and canine. It examines the subtle imprinting dogs perform on their master’s minds through expressions of affection combined with repetitive suggestion. This does not digress to an endorsement of bestiality, rather, a sensuous human experience enhanced by surrender through hypnotic suggestion.


With gratitude,
-Mister Jellyfish

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