New York

Ian Burns

Spencer Brownstone Gallery

With an engineer’s flair for coaxing unexpected function from unlikely materials—and a Conceptualist’s penchant for seeking ingenious ways to deploy that function—Ian Burns conceived his recent show as a series of exaggeratedly low-tech viewing stations. Burns stood out in P. S. 1 Contemporary Art Center’s “Greater New York 2005” with The Epic Tour, 2005, a room-size kinetic sculpture that had viewers riding a goofy trainlike vehicle past an array of colorful shadow boxes. Here again, he squeezed a ramshackle charm out of jerry-rigged apparatus—this time involving more shadow theater, as well as low-rent animatronics and what might be thought of as trompe l’oeil video installations—all powered by clunking exposed machinery. Yet where the content of The Epic Tour—mostly anodyne landscapes and generalized figures—was as offhand as its materials, Burns used his

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