The Horseless Carriage
ANDREW RAFACZ begins 2013 with The Horseless Carriage, new works by Robert Burnier. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. It continues through Saturday, March 30, 2013.
When Robert Burnier was a child, he was immediately hooked on his Commodore 64 computer and the binary world that it opened up to him. It led him to study computer science and become a software engineer. But ultimately, he was just as fascinated by how the systems he created, acting as their own micro-cultures, inherently had their own dilemmas. Today, his work is driven by the possibilities of how a system or structure can be pushed to the point of contradiction or collapse. He still uses existing software as a source, taking what he refers to as a ‘stressed virtual configuration’ and manifesting it as a physical object. He uses technology as a medium with its own idiosyncrasies and malfunctions. The material choices he makes for a work are informed by the terrain of shapes and data from the broken source system.
The title of Burnier’s exhibition references the notion that interesting things exist in transitional states and we as human beings are prone to define them in terms of that limbo, looking forwards and backwards simultaneously. The horseless carriage, used to describe the first automobiles, is a great example of this. For the exhibition, Burnier presents several three-dimensional works and one framed work. The two smaller three-dimensional works attach to the wall as if they are drawings or paintings. Some sections and edges are angular while others have the fluidity of a sheet of folded or twisted paper. They are, in fact, made of aluminum and coated in muted colors of primer. A third three-dimensional work, created in a similar manner, is larger and floats off the wall, allowing the viewer to experience it from every angle. Burnier’s single framed work, Buren via Tuttle, is comprised of two inkjet prints stacked on top of each other. Visually related to the three-dimensional works, it also presents the artist’s inspirations directly. These works each have moments of precision as well as disruption to the possibilities of that precision. They hang there, in a space that is both static and dynamic, in the middle of a narrative that has not been completely played out. At times, they feel as if they might implode. Other times, they seem to have been left in the middle of some transformation. They have elements of high design yet are made to manifest their oddities and quirks, reminding the viewer that someone created them, coming to grips with his own personal narrative and existence.
ROBERT BURNIER (American, b. 1969) lives and works in Chicago. He will receive his Post-Baccalaureate in Painting and Drawing from SAIC in 2014. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania (1991). He was included in the Evanston and Vicinity Biennial 2012, curated by Shannon Stratton, and Some Dialogue, curated by Sarah Krepp and Doug Stapleton, at the Illinois State Museum, Chicago, 2012. His work is included in a number of private collections as well as United Airlines’ corporate collection. This is his first exhibition with the gallery.