Bill Burns, Bird Radio and the Eames Chair Lounge (installation detail). Photo-Toni Hafkenscheid

Bill Burns: Bird Radio and the Eames Chair Lounge

Bill Burns: Bird Radio and the Eames Chair Lounge
September 28, 2012 to January 6, 2013

Opening Reception: Friday, September 28 at 8 p.m.
Talk/Tour: Friday, September 28 at 7 p.m. with the artist, Bill Burns

Bird Radio and the Eames Chair Lounge continues Bill Burns’ curious work about animals, knowledge, and society’s relationship with nature. Gallery visi­tors are invited to activate a chandelier of jerry-rigged birdcalls that transmits the simulated sound of birds beyond the gallery walls via radio. Burns, well-known for the quirky humor of his work, includes in the installation several examples of the 1950s Eames lounge chair.

The exhibition features a video of children demonstrating the proper use of the various birdcalls, a “DNA barcode of the Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago,” and a series of large schematic drawings explaining how to operate Bird Radio and its 17 calls. Bird Radio – Vogelradio, an artist’s book produced in tandem with the project, contains illustrations and instructions for use. For example, for the Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) birdcall, visitors are instructed to “pinch at the top and shake from side to side while twisting your wrist.” The exhibition focuses on strategies of mimicry and the authority attached to such schematic diagrams.

These various presentations offer viewers the opportunity for reflection upon the ways information is transmitted, methods of teaching, and the pragmatic implications of accrued knowledge.

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Bill Burns lives in Toronto. His work concerning animals and safety has been published and exhibited widely in North America and Europe. His drawings, books, multiples and photographs are included in numerous collections, including the Tate Britain in London, the MoMA in New York, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Mendel Art Gallery.

Bill Burns: Bird Radio and the Eames Chair Lounge is organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto Scarborough.