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Chris Burden Promo (Burden, Chris), 1976

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The logical continuation of all this is a series of TV commercials that Burden had broadcast at his own expense at the usual price per minute. The best-known example «Chris Burden Promo» consisted only of the words «Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Chris Burden,» and ends with «© 1976 paid for by Chris Burden—artist.» This commercial was broadcast in Los Angeles and New York over twenty times in the normal commercial break at a peak viewing period. Statistics state that the first five artists named are the best known in the USA, and Burden «convinced several station managers that my name ‹Chris Burden› was also the name of an art business, and they agreed to sell me air time.»[63] The staged megalomania of this commercial stands for the hubris of all artists who believes that TV can disseminate their message and thus bring them greater fame than would be possible in the context of art, which is marginal in comparison with the mass medium. It is obviously completely


ridiculous to hope that the commercial could trigger some random viewer's interest in Chris Burden. But it did make Burden better known in the art world, and you did not even have to see the broadcast, as «Promo» was one of the works featured at documenta 6 in 1977. So the television broadcast is effective only as a concept, in other words ultimately symbolic, but not as advertising through the real impact of the mass medium.

Burden not only examines the way the medium functions commercially, he looks at the technical side as well: he built, again for documenta 6, a television set using the Nipkow disc system invented in the nineteenth century. He had only the most primitive equipment, and no technical support. He used the name «C.B.T.V.» which sounds like an American station but only stands for «Chris Burden Television.» This takes the magic out of the medium and shows the banality of its functions. All these works by Burden have in common with the «Shoot» action that they

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