I think that the Chris Burden TV Commercials are brilliant, but I am not entirely sure why. I have re-watched each ad a number of times since class in an attempt to pinpoint the endearing qualities that drew me to them. I concluded that Burden successfully created the “anti-commercial”. That is, he eliminated all pre-conceived notions of what a commercial is, replacing structure, meaning, and purpose, with nonsensical, arbitrary, inconsequential content. For the most part, commercials function as vehicles to propagandize viewers waiting for their program to return. They are generally, straightforward, not artfully constructed, pitch oriented pieces. Burden’s “commercials”, however, are entirely nonsensical and arbitrary in nature, often seemingly entirely devoid of concept. His deadpan delivery is bizarre and unnerving. The power of Burden’s pieces lays in their contrast to the norm. They are welcome visual changes from the self-serving, propaganda pieces that society has become accustomed to. Burden raises interesting questions about the distinction between art and media. How might we characterize his commercial projects?

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