The Showroom

Sebastian Buerkner: Emotion Machine


14 May – 22 June 2008

Preview: Tuesday 13 May 2008, 7-9pm

Buerkner is one of the most innovative artists working with animation today. His sophisticated visual language, elaborately drawn in Macromedia Flash, is preoccupied with the creation of parallel or fantasy worlds that often defy logic and challenge our understanding of space and time. Buerkner's layered and fragmentary imagery seems to suggest incomplete memories, or provide tantalising glimpses into the artist's subconscious through the perspective of his films' subjects. The effect is a dizzying sense of disorientation, often augmented by Buerkner's use of split screen or multiple projections which - combined with his use of repetition and almost stroboscopic editing - mean that the viewer is often left trying to grasp or piece together an elusive narrative thread.

For The Showroom and Animate Projects, Sebastian Buerkner developed two new works that stripped away the narrative element of his practice to date and attempt an analytical investigation into the presentation of emotional states using the medium of animation. Intimate Customs is a series of monitor-based works that act in many ways as sketches for his second work in the show Blur Belt. While functioning as a complete installation, some of the works in Intimate Customs are intended to be shown in pairs, others singly. Through a combination of abstraction and imagery drawn from the artist's existing visual lexicon, Buerkner creates associations between particular emotions and values such as speed, weight, colour, form and sharpness. This combined with Buerkner's composition of ambiguous soundtracks for these works created an environment that disrupted the viewer's ability to read and process the images presented thereby unlocking the door into their own subconscious.

Buerkner's second new work Blur Belt, a large scale projection in the back space, refers to the language of film to create a sophisticated work that signals a shift in his practice. Made up of five distinct chapters, each start with an 'establishing shot' of a vertically striped, opaque glass door to suggest the same location, albeit at different times, that are accompanied by an evocative soundtrack that playfully refers to a whole history of film making from Hitchcock to Lynch. The filmic associations, combined with the basic approaches of creating animated form such as pattern, line and blur are used by the artist to either trigger or suggest particular emotional states, resulting in a work that acts almost like a psychological experiment on the viewer.

Sebastian Buerkner: Emotion Machine is co-commissioned by The Showroom and Animate Projects.

Sebastian Buerkner has made projects for Kohlenhof Kunstverein Nurnberg, Whitechapel Project Space, London and LUX at Lounge Gallery, London. He has also participated in group shows and screenings at Site Gallery, Sheffield, Tate Liverpool, Barbican, London and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. His film Purple Grey (2006) was broadcast as part of AnimateTV on Channel 4. Sebastian Buerkner currently lives and works in London.

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    Event Talk: Sebastian Buerkner