Ramshackle Land



Like the Lennon/McCartney call to "take a sad song and make it better" there has recently been a strong current among artists to take the technologically mass-produced and make it intimately handcrafted. For over a decade, New York-based artist Ian Burns has perfected this aesthetic of contradictions perhaps better than anyone. Closing this month at Spencer Brownstone Gallery in Soho, The Manner of Work is a technologically deft and fully realized experience. While the show is formally varied, Burns's kinetic sculptures that produce live video feeds of unexpected narratives are no doubt the focal point. Using found objects and mass-produced goods, small cameras capture miniature scenes ranging from the Himalayas to lightning storms, Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and Christo and Jean Claude's Surrounded Islands. Imbued with Victorian romance and environmental apocalypse, each work is a never-ending tautological machine that unnervingly reflects aspects of global industrialization. Though the socio-cultural allusions are rich, the exhibition is uplifting and its best attribute is ultimately Burns's ability to make technological art that references more than its own process.