Below is an excerpt from the catalog
for the Whitney Biennial, 2000.
M.W. Burns' audio work transforms viewers into listeners,
drawing them into the washes of sound that fill a given space - a dense rumble, heard from a distance and emitted from wall
mounted speakers, which gradually coheres into the sound of many simultaneous voices. In Conveyer, Burns' work for the
2000 Biennial, the voices intone a litany of communications in an inward spiraling sequence:
parking lot attendant recalling a message someone gave him which conveyed an idea described in a film discussed by a doorman
in a story that had been shared during a conversation regarding how a coat check clerk made reference to a note about receiving
a call..." Under the strain of listening one becomes acutely aware of the ambient din - the voices, noises, coughs and
conversations typically blocked from conscious listening.
The found music of avante-garde composer
John Cage tuned concertgoers' ears to the unintended sounds all around them. Almost fifty years later, Burns' work
with sound remains a relatively unusual practice in contemporary art. His earlier installations often included architectural
elements that framed otherwise empty apertures. Now that he uses sound alone, Burns regards it in relatively sculptural terms,
"as a tool" that can "make and re-make space".