Mad World Series

Personal narrative,

The MAD WORLD series came from a time when I was struggling to define my voice as an artist. I am quite interested in translation, how digital perception influences real perception. When I started the series, I was working on incorporating virtual environments and the Internet into my painting. I had been working for years in the commercial art world, and I wanted to expand my personal practice and break into the gallery scene. As a fine artist, when I stepped into the New York City arena, I just didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t have the academic training that some of these other artists have. I decided to go back to a pure expression of myself, so I started doing my own thing and built from that.

I was experimenting with different themes and techniques, because it seemed that I wasn’t finding what I was looking for through painting. When I was a kid, the one thing that I was good at was drawing, and so I started playing around with that. One night, I was exploring GOOGLE EARTH, and realized the aesthetic and conceptual beauty of how the computer allowed for change and movement of both physical perspective and intellectual perception of a landscape. The imagery changes dramatically from abstraction to detail as the viewer moves toward and away from a point. I attempted to transfer that concept into a handmade art piece, and once I got going the work simply erupted out. I couldn’t stop. I was drawing for 10 hours a night, every night, for months. I was also channeling my unrest at the chaos of contemporary life into the theme of the pieces, exorcising the environmental and mental toxicities. But ultimately, I wanted to create works that were detailed and beautiful, inverting that overwhelming negativity. I wanted and still want to take my audience on a journey into questions of perception and the chaos of 21st century life, but end at a place where they can find something to relate to.

MAD WORLD is a series that I envision evolving over years, but which has now hit a moment of pause. I’ve come back around to painting now, and in my next series (No time to evolve), I am attempting to refine the concept and execution of MAD WORLD to further explore the translation of digital ideas and methods to handmade artifacts. I’m definitely an outsider. I know that my work is quite singular and involves much beating of my own drum. Art for me is a means of coping, channeling thoughts, emotion, and energy into a concrete expression that can be shared. At the end of the day, all we have are our perceptions, their expression, and the connections with others that are made through that process. It is my hope that this statement will serve as a document of the MAD WORLD series up to this point, as well as a means of allowing access to a greater audience. You might want to have a magnifying glass in hand as you explore the pieces presented here. As when I first started poking around GOOGLE EARTH, I hope that you, too, might find some inspiration here.

Kenneth Burris

New York City, 2015