Interview with Peter Burr

What’s the process of you creating this work, the collaboration with the technical artists in your team and how did you address the unique structure of the installation?

When I first visited 150 MEDIA STREAM in 2019 I knew I wanted to make something that harnessed the capacity of the LED diodes in the sculpture itself. To do so, I ended up working in a realtime engine to build a system that allowed me to control the exact color and value of each diode. In choosing this technical path, I also leaned into the ambient nature of the space and built an artwork that can run infinitely without repetition. I worked with John Also Bennett who created a musical composition that fit the affordances of the environment. I teamed up with Oren Shoham and Jeremy Rotsztain to build software that controls and displays the work, a process that took almost 2 years.

Your work with its op art illusion and flat, abstract depiction of figures seem to hint at our digitally mediated daily existence with a sense of alienation, irrationality and darkness. Could you elaborate on this simulated world you are building and its representations in the real, physical world?

This is an interesting time to be a digital artist. I feel myself bordering multiple dystopias and utopias simultaneously – some of them are technological, some of them are biological, and some of them are social. As an artist, my job is to put form to those borders and potentially conjure something that is present but invisible otherwise. Living in downtown Chicago for 2 years during the gestation and construction of THE CONTINUOUS MONUMENT gave me an opportunity to witness those borders in the same physical space as 150 MEDIA STREAM. There was a pandemic, there was a social uprising, there was an emptiness and subsequent technological prosthetic that came to replace civic space…. creating this piece in this place at this time became an opportunity to articulate a facet of this moment of place and time – something I still do not have words for.

Peter Burr is an artist from Brooklyn, NY. A master of computer animation with a gift for creating images and environments that hover on the boundary between abstraction and figuration, Burr has in recent years devoted himself to exploring the concept of an endlessly mutating labyrinth. His practice often engages with tools of the video game industry in he form of immersive cinematic artworks. These pieces have been presented internationally by various institutions including Documenta 14, Athens; MoMA PS1, New York; and The Barbican Centre, London.

Previously Burr worked under the alias Hooliganship and founded the video label Cartune Xprez through which he produced hundreds of live multimedia exhibitions and touring programs showcasing a multi-generational group of artists at the forefront of experimental animation. His practice has been recognized through grants and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Grant, and a Sundance New Frontier Fellowship. For the past 2 years he served as a visiting artist in the Film/Video/New Media/Animation department at SAIC.