There’s no advertising anywhere on this site. By encouraging endless consumption in the face of obvious resource limitations, it retards the move toward a much-needed freedom from want.

Most of the funding for this project has come from the generous individuals whose names appear in the left column. If you’ve had a look around and share my belief that this endeavor is well worth continuing, consider making a donation of your own. Food being by far the largest expense, you’ll effectively be refueling the tour—propelling it farther along in space and time.

If you’d like to support the thread in a non-financial way, I’ve got tasks I can delegate. Anything from research assignments and editing to setting up appointments and locating places to stay. Email if you’re interested: brett [at sign] burnthefurniture [dot] com.

Here’s a more academic explanation outlining the project’s approach to money.

Support the project by donating an amount suggested by one of nine Friends of the Illuminated Thread Donation Levels. As a "thank you,” choose to receive one of the fine gifts or services within your level.

  • Most items from stage one are still available and can be viewed here.
  • Custom framing is available for donation gifts marked with an asterisk.
  • Rolling over some photographs reveals additional imagery.
  • There’s more to many of these than is revealed here. Please email for more information.

Gifts and services at the $25 Asphalt Level Include:

 

CODA (SD DVD)

16 vignettes. Includes Eostre: Divinity of the Radiant Dawn and work done in collaboration with the Regenerative Design Center in Mendocino, CA.

$25/Asphalt

 

REKA (SD DVD)

9 vignettes. Includes The Joy of Infinity Part 2 and Cloud Lapse.

$25/Asphalt

 

Stage Three (SD DVD)

20 vignettes and a few extras. Includes The Boneyard, Ray Mine, and Salton City.

$25/Asphalt

 

Stage Three Overture (SD DVD)

14 vignettes including Jervis Bay and Brownlands Fitness.

$25/Asphalt

 

Stage One/Two + extras (SD DVD)

The 38 vignettes on this digital videodisk are a great primer if you’re new to the project. Longtime readers will enjoy having the gloriously uncompressed collection conveniently compiled in one place.

$25/Asphalt

 

Advert Sampler (SD DVD)

Ten 30-second spots made before leaving Chicago.

$25/Asphalt

Gifts and services at the $50 Paraffin Wax Level Include:

 

Radioactive Materials Area Placard *

Intimidating signs such as this one are posted all over the Hunter's Point property. Laminated.

$50/Paraffin Wax

 

Vincent Shrinkwrapped VHS Box

Thanks to the miracle of polymer plastic film, the packaging for this enduring protrait of the artist will stay nice for many years to come. (note: the box does not contain a casette)

This gift is part of our Tribute to the Video Home System series.

$50/Paraffin Wax

 

Fight Club VHS Casette Tape

See this classic the way it was meant to be seen: shitty and raw.

Donated by EL.

This gift is part of our Tribute to the Video Home System series.

$50/Paraffin Wax

 

The Oil Age Poster *

This poster has hung in Brett's various work spaces for years and informed much of his thinking on the global oil situation. It forcasts a 2007 peak in global oil production and is: "printed on 100% recycled paper fiber with soy inks."

$50/Paraffin Wax

 

Binaural Audio Recording

Choose a 15-minute window anytime during the tour and Brett will record the ambient sound wherever he is, whatever he's doing. Using binaural microphones and a high-res recorder, playback on headphones means you’ll essentially hear what he heard. The nocturnal cries of desert fauna or a mundane exchange with a supermarket checker—you wont know what you’ve got till it arrives in the mail and you pop it in the player.

$50/Parrafin Wax

Gifts and services at the $100 Bunker Fuel Level Include:

 

Baily Recorder Disk *

As it made one revolution over a 24-hour period, this paper disk would have recorded the fluctuations of a meter needle inside the Betteravia sugar plant. It's likely been on the floor for many years and has acquired some gorgeous discoleration.

$100/Bunker Fuel (no longer available)

 

Middle Class Dreams VHS Collection

This set of two fantastic shorts includes: The Endless Vacation and 1993 Isuzu Trooper: The refined Sport Utility Vehicle.

This gift is part of our Tribute to the Video Home System series.

$100/Bunker Fuel

 

1991 Lexus Coupe Exterior/Interior Color Options Chart *

The quinessential artifact of the Age of Exuberance. Includes paint and fake leather sample tiles.

Donated by the Lentz family.

$100/Bunker Fuel

 

Oregon Trail Regional Museum Postcard *

This fine keepsake, complementary with paid admission to the museum, was acquired by Brett in Baker City, Oregon on the morning of October 20, 2008.

The charmingly dated photograph of the former natatorium's facade was taken by Jon Croghan

$100/Bunker Fuel

 

Mo/Fo LLP Baseball Cap

Whether on the fairway or in the hood, you’ll be kickin’ it like a mofo with this fantastic cap from Morrison & Foerster Limited Liability Partnership. Known for their intellectual property cases, they’re the law firm with the irreverent nickname.

Donated by ES.

$100/Bunker Fuel

 

"Take Ecstasy with Me"

Brett will do his hair all fancy futuristic and the two of you will take drugs someplace dramatic. An opportunity that's not to be passed up! (Mushroom chocolates are the alternate option for this incredible gift.) Listen to this tune and consider it.

$100/Bunker Fuel

Gifts and services at the $200 Motor Oil Level Include:

 

Safari Club Taxedermy Map *

Required reading for anyone faced with the daunting task of identifying the hundreds of dead animals adorning the walls of this odd establishment.

$200/Motor Oil

 

Tickets *

Amazingly, Brett received these two violations without getting behind the wheel of an automobile. The first was issued after he rolled through a stop sign on his bicycle and appropriately identifies him as "Transient." The second is courtesy of the California Highway Patrol and reads: "PEDESTRIAN ON FREEWAY."

$200/Motor Oil

 

Two Dakota Grain Postcards *

Stolen by Brett from Al's Oasis in Oacoma, SD, these cards attest to the greatness of the industrial agricultural model. Used for note taking purposes, they bear the marks of many bumpy miles on the road.

$200/Motor Oil

 

Directly Ahead

Brett will snap an image with his phone (at an exact time specified by you) each day for a week. The results will be sent to your mobile device.

$200/Motor Oil

 

Found Sculpture

Ruins are treasure troves of lost and abandoned objects. Brett will select for you one such found sculptural fragment at a derelict site of your choosing. You’ll receive it in the mail along with photographic documentation of the object’s context before removal.

$200/Motor Oil

 

Desert Feathers

Bird feathers found over eight months in the Desert Southwest.

$200/Motor Oil

 

"NO SMOKING/FASTEN SEAT BELTS" placard

Vintage glass and aluminum airliner placard taken without permission form The Boneyard. Featured in NTB (screen test).

$200/Motor Oil (no longer available)

Gifts and services at the $400 Diesel Level Include:

 

Diablo Canyon Package *

Brett rescued this stunning print from a display in the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Visitor's Center. The label below indicates the image was taken in 2005. The photo also comes with a sample nuclear fuel pellet and a selection of informative brochures on the Diablo Canyon facility, high-level waste storage, and the Point Buchon Trail Brett followed to its terminus at the plant's security perimeter.

$400/Diesel

 

Jeremy Wilson's Oregon Department of Corrections Identification Badge *

Joe found the 5'7" 200 pound inmate's ID on the county fairgrounds in Ontario, Oregon on October 17, 2008.

$400/Diesel

 

Friends of the Illuminated Thread Business Card Collection *

We made a lot of friends along the way. Here are their business cards.

$400/Diesel

 

Haiku

Brett will write then mail you a poem each day for one week.

$400/Diesel

 

Archival Inkjet Print *

Choose from one of four HD video stills sourced from stage two. You’ll receive the image printed in dramatic black and white with archival ink, professionally matted and framed. Or don’t choose and receive a composite print with smaller versions of all four. (Sample images available upon request.)

$400/Diesel

 

Polybutadiene Sphere

Found March 15, 2010 crossing San Gorgonio Pass. Degraded by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, this petroleum-derived object began its life as a Super Ball.

$400/Diesel

 

Polyamide Fabric

Received as gift, April 29, 2010 at The Rialto Theatre, Tucson.

$400/Diesel

Gifts and services at the $800 Kerosene Level Include:

 

"So your going to this school now..." *

This endearing offer of friendship was found folded and damp on the side of the road just south of Oric, CA on November 1, 2008. One can only hope it marked the beginning of a lasting partnership.

$800/Kerosene

 

Domenico's Monologue from Nostalghia

Brett will do his best to re-create this memorable cinematic moment in a town square or equivalent public space. Documentation of the performance will be mailed to you in DVD format.

Yes, he'll do it in English. No, he wont light himself on fire.

$800/Kerosene

 

Four Watercolor Postacards Mailed From Kadoka, South Dakota*

Brett Mailed this set of four cards ahead to his mother's home in California. They're covered with intriguing (but barely legible) notes and insights from the first part of the tour.

$800/Kerosene

Gifts and services at the $1,600 Gasoline Level Include:

 

Stainless Steel Target Plate

Found here.

$1,600/Gasoline

 

Set of Five Brett Tracy Picture ID Cards *

Package includes:

International Student ID, UCD Undergraduate ID, Claremont Colleges Library Card, University of Chicago ID, and California Driver's Licence (Valid until 01/28/10).

$1,600/Gasoline

 

Dixie Square Mall “Stalker” Expedition

Venture into the disordered depths of a shadowy realm with Brett as your “Stalker” (guide). Follow choreographed movements designed to foreground the supernatural forces and peculiar atmospheres of this otherworldly place. You'll be catapulted back to your childhood as your desensualized body awakens to a myriad of unfamiliar sights, smells and textures.

$1600/Gasoline (no longer available)

Gifts and services at the $3,200 Propane Level Include:

 

Faith Healer Sermons on Casette Tapes

Found here.

$3,200/Propane

 

Two Identical University of Chicago Diplomas *

Much like the item offered in stage one, only this time there's two! Package includes the official letter from the university stating that one must be returned or destroyed.

$3,200/Propane

 

Stainless Steel Ring

Found covered in grease on the roadside outside Tucson. Fetish object.

$3,200/Propane

Gifts and services at the $6,400 Butane Level Include:

 

Going Away Letter From Brett's Ex-Girlfriend, Katie *

Stashed away in his paineers before departure, this sheet of paper didn't leave Brett's side for over five months. Having provided comfort to a lonely rider on many a cold night, it can now be yours.

$6,400/Butane

 

A Place to Weather the Storm

Receive privileged information detailing Brett’s current picks for the world’s best spots to ride out the Deindustrial Age. Focusing on particulars like climate, soil fertility and social stability, this comprehensive and ever-expanding report will provide a valuable head start whether you’re looking to homestead or just avoid chaos. As the thread explores new territory, you’ll receive updates, additions and amendments.

$6,400/Butane

Support: an academic statement

A more affluent US would make available (to a modestly sized group of voluntary economic underachievers) a full social safety net that provided for basic physical needs. With practice, artists and other like-minded folk would be able to pursue their creative endeavors without having to devote large amounts of time to earning tokens. The trade-off for forsaking prepared meals and new clothing and largely abandoning the pursuit of material possessions would be exemption from the humiliating farce that is wage labor. But the world’s richest country doesn’t currently provide this to its citizens and isn’t expected to start anytime soon.

The alternative to receiving assistance from one’s society via its governing bodies is to engage with its citizens directly: asking them to direct a portion of what sustains them toward sustaining you. But what is the fate of this practice forging ahead into a period of contraction where real income continues to decline? Endeavors that rely on the generosity of others suffer terribly during recessions. How much financial assistance can I expect from most individuals during a protracted economic depression?

The answer of course is not much. For this reason, emphasis has been directed away from increasing income and toward reducing expenditures. Performing this shift in fiscal policy benefits the project by adding complexity to its conceptual framework and is personally advantageous in a number of ways. Practicing frugality necessitates a honing of one’s intuition, adaptability and flexibility. In contrast, what personal growth can you expect when the meeting of your needs requires minimum attention and effort? As I further develop my autonomy skill set I’ll share it here with the hope of empowering readers to take steps in a parallel direction.

I’d prefer to procure only enough funds to support the activities related to the project: cycling from place to place, eating out of markets and Mexican restaurants, photographing pertinent sites and sleeping outside. Ideally, money would steadily trickle in to provide for food, periodic inexpensive shelter, and occasional upgrades to computer and camera equipment. Without the need to “keep up” a permanent household, and because of the modest costs associated with bicycle touring, this minimum amount is strikingly low. Individuals and small grants become ideal providers of funding. I’m working toward a combination of revenue sources just fruitful enough to easily bear the cost of ongoing research and travel.

It might look something like this:

$10,000 dollars a year for basic necessities (approximately $27 a day)
+$2,000 annually for repairs and equipment upgrades

$12,000 could be provided by 200 sponsors each donating $60 a year.

Support Q & A:

Why not pursue corporate sponsorship?

I’m wary of corporate money for several reasons. First, there would almost certainly be limits placed on what could be presented and prohibitions on topics at odds with the interests of the sponsor. Second, I'm highly suspicious of advertising: something accepting funds from a corporation would no doubt involve. Maintaining autonomy is an essential component of the project so I’ll accept only what’s offered with few or no strings attached. Unless I decide to take the work in an ironic direction, Chevron is out.

Without bundles of cash being thrown at it, how do you expect your audience to know if the project is any good?

“Today, any endeavor that does not involve an expansion of the realm of monetized goods and services must go against the economic current.”
--- Charles Eisenstein

Econometrics is the basis of our value system in this country. Ventures in spheres of all types are assigned merit according to how much money is to be made. Even in the art world where money is supposedly subordinate to the quality of the idea, budgets come up and silent judgments are made. It’s generally assumed that undertakings backed by vast financial resources must be the ones worth paying attention to.

Becoming familiar with The Illuminated Thread means realizing that conventional money-based measures of value would be inappropriately applied to a project of its nature. Ingrained cultural tenets urge us to “think big” but this project’s structure and goals demand it remain small-scale (not in terms of scope or distance traveled) and low budget. Spending beyond what the day-to-day logistics of the project call for would undermine its spirit, rendering it just another shallow spectacle. Conversely, working within limits reinforces autonomy, efficiency and creativity. Borrowing the title from Schumacher’s definitive text on human-scaled economics, I reassert: small is beautiful. But how does one determine value when money is removed from the equation? I ask the reader, after reviewing what’s been presented on this site so far, to choose and employ the indicators of worth they feel best apply.

Friends of the Illuminated Thread:

Aaron Krupp
Aaron Newton
Al and Bertie Albertson
Alex Zakari
Alla Ioffe
Alta Buden
Amanda Domingues
Amy Grant
Anderson Tate
Andrew Neher
Andrew Snyder
Anna Gonzales
Ashley Laib
Ayca Goken
Barbara, Clinton, IA
Beau Sievers
Betty Thompson
Bill Woodlock
Bill, Baker City, OR
Brandon Fletcher
Brett Cowley-Crawford
Brian McCunney
Brian Richmond
Bryan and Tameron Morgan
Cameron Spencer
Carey Lin
Casey Fenton
Cenna Vaelli
Christine Moen
Cindy Wysocki
Courtney Henson
Damien Fosse
Dan Caccavano
Dan Rogers
Dave Albertine
Dave and Linda Sargent
David Thoreson
Davis Jones
Dawn Dawson Wexo
Deidre Rosenboom
Dennis, Lompoc, CA
Derek Berube
Dylan Castle
Dzveit, Clinton, IA
Edith Polonik
Edward Narea
Eli Elliott
Ellen Karp
Ellie, San Louis Obispo, CA
EM
Emilee Edgar
Emma Hurley
Eric and Wendy Nelson
Eric Hsueh
Eric Lentz-Gauthier
Eric, Chicago, IL
Erin and Jenna Frumet
Erin Tracy
Evan Mackenzie
Francis Burbank
Frank and Nancy Carlson
Greg Lentz
Guy and Carol Krugjohn
Heather Haley
Jack and Theresa Nauman
James and Korey Wysocki
James Bostock
Jared Langus
Jason Pallas
Jay and Lori Fuzi
Jay Mezik
JD Flook
Jeff Palumbo
Jennifer Veloz
Jeremy Reinstein
Jessica Iverson
Jessica Wetzel
Jill Sargent
Jim Knox
John Adam Murray
John and Susan Sandoval
John and Virginia, Algona, IA
John Stanfield
John-Paul DiTomaso
Jon Jost
Jonathan Kleyn
Julie Martino
Justin Berg
Karin Hamilton
Katherine Mayo
Katie Carlson
Kevin Eschleman
Kristin Krzus
Kyle Carasso
Kyle Paulson
Land Grether
Laurie, Nicki and Deb, Algona, IA
Lea and Mark Hepworth
Leah Hale
Leslie Perdue
Lia Berezka
Lisa Kopper
Lorenzo Parra
Ludovic Cogozzo
Luke Mulch
Luke Snobeck
Lyla Lloyd
Lynn Tracy
Madaynn Adams
Mandy Sargent
Marianne Morris
Marion, San Louis Obispo, CA
Mariya Chernyak
Mark Harris
Mark Jessie
Mary Ellen Nesbit
Mary Stuart
Matt Dintelman
Matthew Annerino
Matthew Thompson
Meg McMorrow
Michael Coalson
Michael Konrad
Michael Miller
Michael Thoreson
Michelle Olson
Mike Fairman
Mike Pintar
Mike Tracy
Molly Driscoll
Monika Bukowska
Nancy, Arnold Park, IA
Nathan Casas
Nick Woodward
Nicole Kench
Nikki Pintar
Patrick Holbrook
Paul and Sue Miller
Richie Furnish
Rick and Rita Mayerhofer
Rob and Sara Knight
Roi Montalvo
Ron and Kitty, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ryan and Britney Murray
Ryan and Keely Nelson
Ryan and Lauren McGuiness
Ryan Butzow
Ryan Panos
Sam Goldfaden
Sameer Tolani
Samuel Miller
Stephanie Dufford
Steve and Liz Fairclough
Steve and Sue Penn
Stewart and Francis Lange
Stuart Staniford
Susan Koo
Tara, Chicago, IL
Taylor Castle
Ted Frank
Teddy Schellenbach
Terry, Gorda, CA
Tom and Jackie Nelson
Tony and Shalini Tolani
Tracey Ariga
Ved Aswani
Viktoria Podlipni
Wayne Boroughs
Wayne Jones
Wolfgang Polonik
Yasemin Gokcen
Zach Childers
Zak Stawski