Tim Burns is renowned for his incendiary aesthetics and guerrilla tactics. He became notorious in the early 1970s for his quite literally explosive art performances before moving to New York, where he remained, until the mid-1990s. According to Lucas Ihlein, writing for Artists Profile magazine, “Rather than identifying as a painter, filmmaker, karaoke videographer, installation artist, theatre director or performer (although he has done all these and more), Burns calls himself ‘a context artist.’ What unites the hugely varied set of projects Burns has worked on over the last forty years is a constant desire to set up situations which critically reflect on our hypermediated, industrialised western society.”
His performance installations in the ‘70s – including A change of plan at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Minefield at the Mildura Sculpture Triennial – became infamous and remain highlights in the fledgling history of experimental art in Australia.
He was a pioneer in the Super-8 New Wave movement in New York, producing two features, Why Cars, Carnage (l977) and Political Transmission (l978). CARnage received the NY State council film award 1978 and was selected for the International Situationist Show to tour the Beaubourg Museum in Paris and the ICA in London.
His production company Third Degree Burns Unit’s performance works in Western Australia include Autogeddon – The Ride written by Heathcote Williams for Artrage ‘99; White Cells for The Perth International Fringe Festival 2000; Tunnelvision for Artrage 2000; and THIS IS I.T.? a CTV, Access 31 and Perth Festival co-production. These productions combined elements of theme parks, theatre, film and television to attack aspects of transport, prisons, surveillance and community TV.