Reading the Liminal: An Interview with A.K. Burns

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Reading the Liminal: An Interview with A.K. Burns

me. I also often think of video as a sculptural medium—3D–image, sound and time. With Touch Parade I wanted the monitors to have a physical presence in relation to the body of the viewer. To be various sizes and heights to build a relationship between the viewer's body and the cropped bodies in the video. That work is like an exquisite corpse in space.

Patricia: Like a body to body reverb?
A.K. Burns:  Yes, for example, if you start looking up 'crushing' videos online you'll find a particular consistency in the camera work, with the shot positioned so the camera is sitting on the ground. There is often a moment when the crusher lifts up their foot to expose the crushed material on the bottom of the shoe. These gestures and framing make up a vocabulary that is mostly only legible to those inside the community. Similar to hanky codes, they were markers only read by a subculture or community with a shared vocabulary. There's a kind of semi-private literacy in this new hyper public exchange of explicit images. It's fascinating to see how the mainstream and sub-stream collide on the internet.

Patricia:  And equally interesting is how the internet inherently records its own histories...

A.K. Burns: It is a perpetual document of society's anxiety and desires.

Patricia:  Watching Touch Parade is a great reminder of the difference between performing and just experiencing.
A.K. Burns: I've thought about these pieces as gestures, gesture as a method of giving form, making meaning and sharing—more so than performance, per se.

A.K. Burns, Touch Parade (crush), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts, NY

Patricia:  My association with Keds is that they're very Americana and totally toddler chic…when I was a teenager, I never wanted a pair because I considered them fit for little kids.
A.K. Burns: They have a tinge of tween. 

Patricia: There's something so innocent about them.
A.K. Burns: And that makes them so much more perverse! One of the parameters for the fetishes that I chose to work with [in Touch Parade] was that they were not censored by YouTube. These videos are produced to create the same libidinal response as typical pornographic material, yet the culture we live in has a very limited sensibility of what is considered illicit and explicit. It's as if