Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 INTERVIEW / TORSTEN ZENAS BURNS

DEMOFORMANCES:YELLOW(MOBILERS)
Ressurectables (DAC Propkit), 2012

1. Your sculpture uses found objects: where do you get them?
I’M GOING TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IN
(DEMOFORMANCE MODE) USING OR PROJECTING
BANKS GOTHIC FONT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS & ITALICIZED.
FOR THE DUMBO ARTS CENTER DEMOFORMANCE
YELLOW(MOBILERS) CONFIGURATION I USED ABOUT THIRTY
INORGANIC READY-SPRAYEDS (PULLED FROM A COLLECTION
OF A HUNDRED OR MORE PERSONAL SPECIMANS) – THE
PIECES CAN BE RECONFIGURED AND CHUNKED TOGETHER IN
DIFFERENT VARIABLE COMBINATIONS DEPENDING ON THE
STATIC OR MOBILE SET-UP SITE.
THE SATURATED “MOBILERS” INCLUDE A VARIETY OF
DEFUNCT TECHNOLOGICAL PRODUCTS REPURPOSED
(INCLUDING) MY 1ST 1989 VHS MINOLTA CAMCORDER, MY 1ST
1991 TRIPOD SECURED IN PHILADELPHIA, SOUTH KOREAN
MOTORCYCLE HELMETS, APPLE KEYBOARDS, A CHINESE
REMOTE CONTROLLED TOY VEHICLE, SONY HI8
CAMCORDERS, SUPER 8 CAMERAS, VERIZON CELL PHONES,
SCHOOL CHAIRS, A 1970’S SONY VIDICON TUBE STUDIO
CAMERA, 12” GIJOE NUDE ACTION FIGURES, A BRICK FROM
HOLYOKE, MA, MY DANISH AUNT KIRSTEN LARSEN’S
PHOTOGRAPHIC STILL CAMERA, DRIED CORN COBS, AND A
RUBBER FACE PREVIOUSLY USED FOR CPR TRAINING ETC.
IN THIS PARTICULAR SET-UP THE SCULPTURAL ITEMS ARE
CHUNKED TOGETHER IN A CARAVAN AND JOINED BY LOOPED
VIDEO, FRAMED PHOTOGRAPHS, THE IMMERSION MAN, AND
FICTIONAL VIGNETTES RELATING TO A RE-IMAGINED SPACE
TRAINING WORKSHOP. WE SEE BODYBANKS CHARACTERS
EXPLORING RELATIONSHIPS WITH AMBIGUOUS
ARCHITECTURE, ANIMATED LAND, VEHICLE DELIVERY
SYSTEMS, AND CUSTOM PRESSURE SUITS.
OTHER RELATED FICTIONS MIGHT INVOLVE THE DEMO OF
NEW KINDS OF “SPECTRALOGRAPHIC” CAPTURING DEVICES.
IN ANOTHER VERSION I HAVE THE (MOBILERS) RE-NAMED
“RESSURECTABLES” RELATING MORE TOWARDS A STORY OF
AMBIGUOUS REPLICATION...WE SEE REPRODUCING
CONSTRUCTION YELLOW AND CANDY GLOSS PINK
DISCARDED AND BROKEN (VARIETIES) CREATE A NEW LIFE OF
THEIR OWN – A KIND OF SPREADING (NANO) TECHNOLOGY
BLOWN UP IN A LIFE SIZE HUMANOID SCALE.
2. You are clearly very integral to your own art. Do you believe that
there is a separation between art and artist?
SINCE ENGAGING VIDEO ART EXPERIMENTS IN1988
AT THE SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN AT ALFRED UNIVERSITY, I
HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN CREATING A RE-IMAGINED LIFE
LONG SPECULATIVE SELF PORTRAIT PROJECT. OVER THE
YEARS I HAVE MANAGED TO CREATE RETCONNED
MYTHOLOGIES FUSED WITH MANIFESTED (BODYBANKS)
CHARACTERS.
CONCURRENTLY WITH MY EXPLORATION OF CHOREOGRAPHY
AND SCIENCE-FRICTION THEMES I ALSO HAVE ENGAGED IN
SOME POTENT LONGTERM COLLABORATIONS.
……SO NOT ONLY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO SEPARATE BETWEEN
ART AND ARTIST IT IS IMPOSSIBLE…TO SEPARATE BETWEEN
ART AND ARTIST AND COLLABORATOR. I LIVE FOR THE MESSY
FUSIONS. ITS ALSO A WAY OF EXTENDING YOUR LIFE IN A
STRANGE WAY…YOU CAN NOW BREAK YOUR OWN 4TH WALL.
A TRIP TO HOME DEPOT TO SECURE PROPS FOR A VIDEO
PROJECT IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERY COLLABORATION. THE
SAME ITEM IS NOW RECAST AND CHARGED WITH NEW
MEANING EVERY TIME. THERE IS A (TORSTEN) ACTIVATING
GESTURE ALONE ON EARTH A, EARTH B HAS (T.O.R.S.T.E.N.
AND DARRIN EXPLORING THE MASHED-UP FLESH OF OUR
TIMES), EARTH C HAS THE (HALFLIFERS) ENGAGING IN
AFTERLIFE & RESCUE BASED SPLATSTICK.
3.In the "Demoformances: Yellow (Mobilers)" video you change
locations a few times: how important is location to your art? How
do you choose a location?

RESIDENCY PROGRAMS, EDU ADJUNCT CONTRACTS, AND
COLLABORATIONS ARE CRUCIAL TO MY ONGOING VIDEO,
PHOTOGRAPHIC, BOOK, AND INSTALLATION PROJECTS.
I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO ENGAGE SOME
REALLY DYNAMIC RESIDENCY PROGRAMS, EACH WITH THEIR
OWN UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC SIGNATURE BE IT LOCATED NEAR
OCEAN / FORREST / PLAINS OR INSERTED IN A TWIN
TOWERED MEGA-BUILDING. I HAVE SHOT HOURS AND HOURS
OF VIDEO AT EACH MOBILE LOCATION, BUILDING DIVERSE
CHOREAGRAPHIC AND COSTUMED RESPONCES TO THE
ENVIRONMENT AT HAND. FURTHER MEANINGFUL LOCATIONS
FOR PROJECTS ARE BASED ON MY ONGOING TEACHING
EXPERIENCES BOTH IN DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL
SETTINGS. I VIEW MY EDU TEACHING AND CURATION
EXPERIMENTS AS AN EXTENTION OF MY ART MAKING
PRACTICE.
MY NEXT PROJECT CALLED “KOREANAUTICA” WAS SHOT
PRIMARILY IN SOUTH KOREA THANKS TO A WONDERFUL
OPPORTUNITY I HAD AT KYUNGSUNG UNIVERSITY’S
DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL DESIGN IN PUSAN.
FINALLY THIS DEMOFORMANCES PROJECT CREATED FOR
THE DUMBO ARTS CENTER WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE
WITHOUT THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF TWO INSPIRING
ARTISTS (MICHAEL O’MALLEY & CHRIS NELSON) WHO OVER
THE YEARS HAVE LET ME COLLABOTRONICALLY ENGAGE WITH
THEIR OWN DYNAMIC SCULPTURES AND INSTALLATION SITES.
Ressurectables (DAC Propkit), 2012

4. How does repetition--of actions, prop use, visual motifs, etc.,...--
factor into your art?

FOR THIS EXCHANGE I WILL MENTION ONLY ONE.
OVER THE YEARS THE ONE INSPIRING PROP OR COSTUME
ELEMENT THAT I HAVE USED OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN MY
OWN SOLO VIDEO PROJECTS AS WELL AS MADE SIGNIFICANT
GUEST APPEARANCES IN SEVERAL ONGOING
COLLABORATIONS INCLUDING (HALFLIFERS: PIONEER
SERIES) IS “THE IMMERSION SUIT”. THE IST RED FLOTATION
SUIT WAS SENT TO ME IN 1995 BY JENNIFER & KEVIN MCCOY.
I HAVE BEEN USING THE ORIGINAL AND OTHER VERSIONS OF
THE FORM EVER SINCE.
FOR ME IT’S A GESTURAL TRIGGER DELIVERY SYSTEM / A
SCULPTURAL MOBILE DOUBLE / AN IMAGINATION AUGMENT /
A SECOND SKIN / A PERSONALIZED PRESSURE (EARTH) SUIT.
5.Why the use of rewind in your video? Are the actions in the video
meant to be seen exclusively in reverse?

(BACKWORDS / FOR-WWARDS / S.I.D.E.=WAYS)
AT THIS POINT ITS HARD FOR ME TO SEE THINGS IN A LINEAR
WAY. THE INTEREST I HAVE HAD SINCE MY FIRST EXPOSURE
TO VIDEO CAMERAS, EDITING SYSTEMS, AND MEDIA
PROCESSING TOOLS HAS BEEN ONE OF TEXTURE AND
PHYSICALITY OF THE VIDEO SIGNAL FUSED WITH AN
IMPROVISATIONAL AND TEMPORALLY ACTIVATED FLESH
BODY. LIKE WELDING HOT METAL OR SCARRING ZINC PLATES
WITH AN ACID BATH FOR AN ETCHING PRINT, THE ANALOG
VIDEO’S REAL TIME RESIDUE REALLY EXCITES ME. EACH
PIECE OF EQUIPMENT’S JOG SHUTTLE MIXED WITH LIVE
RESCANNING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS CREATING
UNIQUE CONVULSIVE TEARING QUALITIES THAT FIT THE
EARLY THEMES AND DELIVERY SYSTEM OF A GESTURAL
STORY BODY. FOR (DEMOFORMANCES) THE TEMPORAL
DIGITAL FICTIONS REVOLVE AROUND A SET OF SPECIAL
“CAPTURE” CAMERAS THAT PICK UP ON SPECTRAL
ENERGIES. WE SEE THIS IN THE FORM OF GESTURAL
COLORED SMOKE OR PLASMIC DISCHARGES THAT
SEEMINGLY COME OUT OF NOW WHERE AND ARE
RE-INGESTED BY THE SCULPTURAL FORMS FOR SOME
UNKNOWN OR KNOWN PURPOSE. EACH WORKSHOP
VIGNETTE FOCUSES ON THESE ONGOING TULPOIDAL
MAN-INGESTATIONS……

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interview questions for Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin "What-If? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked?


What-if? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked, 2010

1. What helped inspire the creation of these characters or the assembly of this
specific cast of characters for "What-If"?

What helped inspire the re-creation of these characters is our mutual love of art
as discovered through comics and science fiction. Our first conversations about
the characters that fueled What If? were about fusing adult content and
sensibilities onto some of the more obscure superheroes that we were both
drawn to in childhood. Scarlet Witch pushed the concept of the probability to its
limit as she has the mutant power to change the outcome of any possible
situation. The Vision pushes the boundaries between man and machine as he is
a synthezoid with a human soul. While the real-life art characters Stelarc and
Orlan are not necessarily their equivalence there are some parallels in the way
these artists address physical human limitations through their art.

2. Much of your imagery or installations rely on collage. Could you elaborate the
process you take to create composite images or sculptures?

Our prior works relied more heavily on collage in a sense that we used a lot of
appropriated video material to contextualize our performative activities within a
historical context. However, for the What If? works we abandoned video
appropriation to investigate appropriation of characters engaged in the act of cos
play or costume play. In our images and sculpture we allowed ourselves the
liberty to collage elements of our production shoots to create references to more
elaborate fictions that are referred to but whose existence is not evident in the
video works directly. In some ways, this opens up the implied narrative to further
interpretations from the viewer. For example, our long collage works we like to
consider a kind of manifest hieroglyphics. It is another way to explore the
threads of ambiguous narratives as characters are repeated throughout the
length of the collage and are moved through different settings. Throughout all of
our video projects, we have sought out different tools to explore as part of our
process. In the photo-stands and print works of What If? we elaborated on this
practice by finding liberties using one of the most basic image production tool,
Photoshop. The process is often an individual one where either one of us comes
up with a framework that they are interested in working with but keeps to the
imagery generated by the production of the video material and/or implied
narrative. We bounce the ideas off of each other for constructive input or as a
way to push the idea further beyond the indexical relationship that straight
photography often provides.
Plastinoids, 2010

3. Could you talk about how technology has influenced "What-If?" ? whether in its
construction or depiction?

Throughout our collaborations together we have consistently sought after
opportunities to explore new image processing tools via shared artist residencies
or through the school╩╝s we teach at. One of the key technological components to
What If? is the use of Dance Forms, a 3D program initially constructed for
choreographers, that was donated to the lab at UC Davis in correlation with
interdisciplinary projects inspired by Merce Cunnignham╩╝s visit to the Davis
campus. Dance Forms allowed us to build our characters in various avatar forms,
and we enjoyed some of the quirks of the program, like the hollowness of bodies
and the way characters could move inside of one another. We commingled prescripted
dance sequences with our own choreography extending the date
sequences imagining our characters as globetrotting entities meeting in the
space of the virtual.


4. How does your collaboration play into the diversity of mediums (computer
renderings, photography, sculpture, performance, video etc.) you incorporate for
a single exhibition?

In the past we have primarily worked on single channel video works though there
have been opportunities that have arisen that have allowed us to explore
installation and print. In our solo practices we both work in a variety of media
and for What If? we were invited to exhibit the work in a gallery space in Oakland
called Krowswork. We were eager to expand on the world we created primarily
in video through computer renderings and improvisational role-playing
workshops. As mentioned above the prints allowed us to extend the implied but
open narratives through a series of productions stills and scrolled collages.
There are certain characters that we discussed having in our works but they did
not make it into the final cut so they find a new life in some of the prints. The
photo stands extend the ways in which we incorporate others into the space of
role playing by allowing the audience to participate even if just for a photo op.
While there is a lot of work in the exhibition, we really consider What If? an entire
universe. Each opportunity to exhibit also challenged us with another opportunity
to edit what was being shown but also to bring in some new life to the works by
using our image and character base to create another piece.
Jeju-do Cluster Ball, Carnalove Workshop, Connecticut River Date, South Korean Trans-Vehicles, 2010

5. How would you define the role or promotion of fantasy into your artworks'
engagement with viewers?

Improvisation has always been an important part of our work on every level and
to some degree improvisation opens up a realm of fantasy as there is no script.
However, as mentioned above, there are a cast of characters and mythologies
that we are incorporating whether those be derived from reality based artist or
comic book fictions. How an audience might engage with these characters and
vignettes is unpredictable but by abandoning the script, which can often be so
limiting regarding how images are read, we hope to allow viewers to engage their
own connective narratives and fantasies. What areas of access we leave open
to a viewer in order to do that is sometimes unpredictable. Recently, a viewer
came to What If? when we exhibited it in Holyoke, MA and commented that the
thing that brought her into the world we created was the movement. She was a
dancer and was intrigued by our use of Dance Forms and the movements
incorporated into the improvisations between various characters. Some may
recognize the concept of Stelarc with his emblematic third arm used as a
reimagined prop for our role-playing participants as an entry in. Others may
immediately identify with the notion of superhero whether they know the
characters or not. To some degree, we hope to have cast a wide net to allow an
entry for viewers to insert themselves and engage.

Posted by: Tom Anesta

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan) and Burial Mount Multiverse (Gyeongju)











Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan)
Burial Mount Multiverse (Gyeongju)
Torsten Burns and Darrin Martin’s composite images "Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan)" and "Burial Mound Multiverse (Gyeongju)" take on a similar form to panoramic photos, and much like them the spatial relations are distorted. It is the subsequent disorientation that keeps me searching back and forth across these images to try and grasp how they are layered and supposed to be perceived.  The mixture of real landscapes help ground the images in some familiar reality, but ultimately the further laying of images forced me to give up on attributing them to any worldly scenario and accept these characters in their quasi-computer realm (that doesn’t adhere to depth perception). This piece works well to shed any preconceived notions and helps support my own ideas of fantasy throughout the exhibition. 

Posted by: Tom Anesta 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Plastinoids

 PLASTINOIDS

Plastinoids, 2010 Burns and Martin
Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin's sculptures I found to be some of the most engaging in the exhibit. The use of action figures utilized imagery hardwired into my childhood. From across the gallery they look like they’ve come straight out of the blister pack, on closer inspection they are meticulously hand painted. Seeing the cast of characters of “What-If?” as action figures defines them among avatars and super heroes. They are fantastic if not borderline ridiculous, yet purposely so. What superhero isn’t? Their whimsical nature however need not alter their conviction and the reality of the love story narrative of “What-If?”

 Posted by: Tom Anesta, Gallery Intern