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March 14, 2007

HEATHER BURSCH: The Singer Not the Song


Between Group Identity and Self

Heather Bursch’s three screen projection, The Singer Not the Song, uses custom software to convert video into virtual, automated stadium card displays. Video of her hands moving a 15” X 20” red card to catch a range of light values is presented in a 32 X 32 grid format. The cards animate video from pre-rendered sources, referring to the card animations that celebrate unified vision in the stadiums of totalitarian states and at sporting events in the US. The mediating structure of the individual cards, as well as the moving images they collectively animate, highlight the relationship between group identity and an individual self.

Projected onto the center screen is an iconic performance of Mick Jagger at a concert in Hyde Park in 1969, just five months prior to the disillusionment invoked by the violent eruption at Altamont. Shot at a pivotal time in 20th century idealism and utopianism, this footage marks a moment in western culture that suggested tremendous possibility for social change. The side panels consist of contemporary video of public spaces, invoking a feeling of static, mechanized surveillance where individuals move quietly through institutional spaces.

The center and side screens function in opposition to each other, both positioning the viewer as a member of a unified crowd and as a detached surveyor of the other. This attempts to ask, what can the viewer’s position in relation to media of the past and the present suggest? How do these various ways of seeing ourselves reflect who we are as individuals and members of a larger cultural matrix with assumed, shared beliefs? And how do we as viewers participate in the generation and dissemination of cultural messages? The title, The Singer Not The Song suggests a double reading. The iconic image of Mick Jagger as auteur and vehicle for a social message is rendered mute, actively replaced by the transmitting framework of the crowd and recording device of the camera.

Heather Bursch, born in 1971, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental Animation and Integrated Media at the California Institute for the Arts.

Posted by jo at March 14, 2007 08:51 AM