Bird Radio

Bill Burns

Bird Radio

June 1, 2012 - August 26, 2012

Bird Radio is a continuation of Bill Burns’ earlier work on animals, plants, and safety. At once humorous, earnest, and slightly subversive, Burns’ Safety Gear for Small Animals (SGSA) project included meticulously crafted great to offer some semblance of protection to the non-humans who share our hostel environment. Whereas SGSA had borrowed display strategies from the realm of natural history, Bird Radio focuses more closely on strategies of mimicry and elusive communication.

Central to this multimedia installation is a chandelier-like device with jerry-rigged birdcalls surrounded by a selection of modern chairs. When the birdcalls are activated by visitors, the sound is transmitted outside of the gallery space to be heard in real-time on the radio. The birdcalls are two-fold reproductions: not only are they devices designed to mimic the sounds of birds that have been exiled from most of our urban environments, but they are also rebuilt versions of pre-existing devices.

The installation also features a video of children demonstrating the birdcalls and a selection of schematics. Though Burns warns us that his birdcalls are hardly a substitute for listening to the real thing, Bird Radio invites us to consider questions of authenticity and the curious authority attached to proxy illustrations.

About The Artist

Bill Burns' work concerning animals and safety has been published and exhibited widely. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; and the Seoul Museum of Art. His solo projects have been shown at the  Wellcome Trust, London, England; Kunst-Werke-ICA, Berlin; and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, England. His Safety Gear for Small Animals exhibition, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Arts (MOCCA), Toronto and Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound, toured to nine venues including the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; California State University-Fullerton, Los Angeles; and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. His drawings, books, multiples and photographs are included in numerous collections including the Tate Britain in London, the MoMA in New York, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina and the Getty Center in Los Angeles.


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