What If? In the Days
When the Tiger Smoked

a total-gallery experience
in video and photography
by Torsten Zenas Burns & Darrin Martin


June 4-July 17, 2010
reception for the artists:
Saturday June 5th, 6-9
with Kimchi and Hite beer
Special outdoor "extras" screening at 8:30

Krowswork Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition What If? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked, a collaboration between veteran video artists Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin. The exhibition includes four videos and accompanying prints and photographs and is the culmination of an ongoing project which began in Busan, South Korea in 2006. The first part of the title - "What If?" - sets the tone for both the scientific and speculative nature of the artists' point of departure. The second part - "In the Days When the Tiger Smoked" - is the Korean equivalent of "Once Upon a Time," suggesting an event set in a mythical time. This juxtaposition of the exciting, unknown possibilities of "future" with the playful, whimsy of a fictional "past" provides a perfect capsule for this uniquely complex narrative of the imaginative present.

What If? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked represents video art at its most engaged-an exploration of the medium's outer limits, complexities, and crevices. Alternately funny, bizarre, and profound, the works are colorful, both literally and metaphorically, and use video to do what it does best: push and question boundaries. At the heart of What If? is the unfolding of a role-playing workshop where participants reenact dates leading up to a fictional polyamorous romance. The performance, played by a rotating international cast of artists, culminates in a group wedding and honeymoon between characters based on two obscure Marvel superheroes and two internationally renowned art personalities. What-If? reveals the entangled story that brought this romantic foursome together, spanning the gulf between genders and representations, the body and technology. Part live action and part animation, equally plastic and organic, and using bodies as physical and philosophical vehicles to question our sense of self at its palpable essence, the presentation of What If? at Krowswork Gallery reminds us that identity, like video itself, can be almost anything we want it to be.



Burns and Martin met in the 1980s when they were both studying art at Alfred University, an unsuspected center of early video activity and experimentation and one of the oldest video art programs in the country. Each of them has been working in the medium of video for twenty years, individually and collaboratively. Together, they have based their single-channel videotapes, curations and current performance works on their research into diverse séance-fictions including re-imagined educational practices, cryptozoological musicals, and transhuman narratives. They have jointly participated in residencies at Eyebeam and The Experimental Television Center in New York. Their videos have screened at venues including The Museum of Art and Design (NY), Pacific Film Archive (CA), Aurora Picture Show (TX), Migrating Forms (NY), Video_Dumbo (NY), Chicago Underground Film Festival (IL), Madrid Museum of Contemporary Art (Spain), Stuttgart Filmwinter (Germany), Art Space Bandee (South Korea), and Oberhausen Short Film and Video Festival (Germany). They most recently screened their work at the 2010 edition of the European Media Arts Festival (Germany) and exhibited at The Lab in San Francisco.