Contemporary Relationships with the Landscape and Online Services: A Case Study

Screen shot from Anthony Burdin's Myspace profile

The exhibition history and creative output of the artist Anthony Burdin is intertwined with—and often overshadowed by his nomadic lifestyle. The 2006 Whitney Biennial participant identifies himself as a recording artist and is most known for his installations and video performances. In a 2005 review for artnet.com, Jerry Saltz described Burdin as a “sort of traveling magician-maniac-minstrel, [who] lives, makes art, and stages performances in his van.”

Up until a few years ago, Burdin recorded an astronomical amount of videotape that he captured while driving around Southern California. Like most people reading this blog, he spends a lot of time online (picking up unprotected wireless networks?). His band’s MySpace accounts (1, 2) show a shift from persistently documenting the physical landscape and his relationship with it to developing a relationship with online services and trolling social networks in search of a focused type of user to friend-request.

Screen shot from Anthony Burdin's MySpace profile

The list of 7000+ friends on the Anthony’sRevengeNYC profile is like an extensive Web 2.0 version of Mike Kelley and Cameron Jamie’s Gothic photo series, which are photos shot while the artists attended goth clubs over the course of 7 days. Each photo in the series portrays a goth for each day of the week.

Mike Kelley and Cameron Jamie, "Monday's Goth" from the "Gothic" series, 1997

On her blog, Car Metaphors, Watching Analogies in the World of Computers, pioneering Internet artist and theorist Olia Lialina writes, “the most popular analogy contemporary authors use to explain the computer’s development and its role in our life is to cars.” (See the dashboard gauge on Speakeasy’s speedtest.)

Screen shot of the Speakeasy Speedtest's "dash gauge"

In the case of Burdin, the car/network analogy seems to go a step further. The idea of a far-out road warrior having an online account suggests a double meaning of tall tales, or a legendary online account.

Anthony’s Revenge will be playing a show on Wednesday, February 24 at Home Sweet Home on New York’s Lower East Side.


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