artist / participant
Ian Burns' kinetic constructions and dioramas resemble eccentric homemade computer or home entertainment systems cobbled together from cheap wood, junk found on the street, and assorted eBay treasures. From such humble elements, he crafts a series of shadow theatre-like moving scenes whose simple yet often convoluted mechanisms are laid open to view. The constructions are hilarious and fascinating, and often include a participative element that sets up a controlled, absurd viewing circumstance.
For this, his first solo show in New York, Ian will be showing several new series of sculptures. There will be a new set of proscenium pieces that can be walked around revealing alternatively the projected image on screen and the primitive mechanics that create the shadow-illusion. Alongside, three new video 'trompe l'oeil' works feature familiar genre landscapes that appear to be straight video pieces, but are magically conjured out of next to nothing.
Central to all of these works is an exploration, through the language of cinematic and visual cliché, of the power of the screen, and our ever more sedentary relationship to it. In 'Another Day at the Office', the centerpiece of the show, we are invited to mount a swivel chair and face a number of 'computer screens'. However, like 'The Epic Tour', the artist's installation in Greater New York 2005, we are highly restricted in our interaction with the represented scenes and the chair begins to resemble a cage as much as a driving seat.
Burns' work often plays on this game of viewer passivity and agency. When his sculptures invite our participation, we are usually left feeling more than a little implicated as the often violent or debased action unfolds on screen. In several new arcade game-like pieces in this show, for instance, the contemplation of a sublime landscape is interrupted if we obey the invitation to 'push button', which often results in some catastrophic event. Ultimately, these works represent a succinct dissection of the mediated image and its role in propagating the fear, paranoia and paralysis of our post 9/11 world.
Ian Burns was born in Australia and received an MFA from Hunter College, New York in 2003. Ian has participated in exhibitions at Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; The Sculpture Center, Long Island City; and Gigantic Art Space, ABC NoRio, and Cuchifritos, New York. This year Ian was represented in Greater New York at PS1, with 'The Epic Tour', his large train car-like installation. Spencer Brownstone Gallery will also be presenting a solo project by the artist at Art Basel Miami in December.
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