Ian Burn: Systematically Altered Photographs [schoolyard] 1968

Art Artwork from Australia. Published by M.C.A. on Tuesday 30 September 2014.

Ian Burn: Systematically Altered Photographs [schoolyard] 1968 image Ian Burn: Systematically Altered Photographs [schoolyard] 1968 image

Ian Burn was an Australian artist known internationally for his leading role in the development of conceptual art. His Systematically Altered Photographs play with the idea of representation and reproduction.

In these works images seemingly chosen at random from a banal source – government promotional images – are reproduced through a Xerox machine, erasing tonal detail and leaving only the core structure of the image visible. This is then re-photographed and placed with the original.

These works sit alongside a further body of work that Burn produced using the Xerox machine, most notably a series of books which consisted of a paper sheet copied again and again until it become a black field; ‘A blank sheet of clean white paper was/copied in a Xerox 720 machine. This copy/was then used to make a third, the third to make/a fourth and so on. Each copy as it/came out of the machine was re-used to/make the next: this continued for one hundred times , producing a work of one/hundred sheets.’

In these works, Burn draws attention to the system behind the making (and erasure) of the image and the manner in which the meaning of the image is tied to this structure rather than the action of an individual artist.