October 2008, Simmons & Burke @ Kim Light/LightBox, LA


 Simmons & Burke
 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth #1, 2008
 Lightjet print and custom audio software
 79 x 54 1/2 inches (framed)
 Edition of 5
 Courtesy of Kim Light/LightBox

Simmons & Burke
You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth
Kim Light/LightBox
Through November 1, 2008

A dynamic duo of sorts, LA-based artists Case Simmons and Andrew Burke have combined their respective forces of art and music to form the collaborative art team Simmons & Burke. And while their collage work may not save the world, it does come close to exhibiting a superpower. By using images and accompanying audio files culled from hours upon hours of browsing the web, Simmons & Burke have managed to create work that is culturally pertinent, art historically referential and slightly compulsive in its technological obsession. Hyperactive and cyber spatial, the imagery comes at the viewer from all directions, both visually and audibly. In short, they have captured the attention of viewers who have no attention span with the same tools that have lured us into our digital dependency.


 Simmons & Burke
 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth #2, 2008
 Lightjet print and custom audio software
 79 x 54 1/2 inches (framed)
 Edition of 5
 Courtesy of Kim Light/LightBox


 Simmons & Burke
 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth #3, 2008
 Lightjet print and custom audio software
 79 x 54 1/2 inches (framed)
 Edition of 5
 Courtesy of Kim Light/LightBox

The result is overwhelming, over stimulating large-scale environments that reflect the cacophony of sounds and images that increasingly barrage our daily lives through various forms of media. Accompanying the pieces are head phones with fragmented and overlaid audio files of things like street sounds, popular music and TV show chatter that complete the sensory overload experience. By tapping into infinite network of online imagery and digitalized sound works, Simmons & Burke have simulated fractured and condensed versions of our daily encounters with digital media. Their collage aesthetic, comprised of intricately layered images that have been cut and digitally reconstructed, mimic the act of web browsing as one image source leads to another and to another in a complicated web of chance and intuition. What defines their work, however, is a careful attention to composition and a devoted consideration for assembly.


 Simmons & Burke
  You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth #4, 2008
 Lightjet print and custom audio software
 79 x 54 1/2 inches (framed)
 Edition of 5
 Courtesy of Kim Light/LightBox

Although the images they choose are by nature arbitrary in their discovery, their placement on the digital plane is as deliberate as the artist's hand on the canvas. In close view, the vividly recreated imagery is a minefield of seemingly unrelated, arbitrary items: in one section of a piece, giant cardinals flock around an altar-like image of a girl bowing her head in pious prayer while Kevin Costner stands hands on hips below her. Borrowing from art historical references as diverse as Dadaist collage work and Surrealist nonsequitors, the detailed work is most definitively a grotesque version of the Baroque, over the top and over exaggerated. But in a comprehensive view, the individual elements and repeating patterns blur out and become broad strokes of shapes and color that tell the larger story, one of heaven and hell colliding in a Hieronymus Bosch-like tale of caution against greed, lust, and the obscene. What isn't clear is whether or not their digitally enhanced world is a version of heaven where information and knowledge is fruitfully at our fingertips or whether it's a hellish prison where unneeded and unheeded excess abound. In the end, we're too distracted to notice either way.

Heather Jeno Silva is an art critic and independent curator residing in Santa Barbara, CA. Silva received her Masters of Arts degree in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California in 2003 and has variety of experience in curatorial work, including the USC Fisher Gallery and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Silva's art criticism has been published in numerous print and online publications, including various exhibition catalogs, art.blogging.la, RiM Magazine, the Santa Barbara New Press, THE Magazine Los Angeles, and the Pasadena Weekly among others and writes a column, Off the Wall, about visual art in unconventional venues for the Santa Barbara Independent.

 
heathersilva@gmail.com

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