His current research examines the role of media in the historiographies of sites of nuclear colonialism. His practice spans photography, site specific sculpture, and spatial intervention, in addition to curation and convening. For two decades David has written and led transdisciplinary curricula in art, architecture, and design in universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. He is currently a Senior Tutor (Research) and Lead for Media Studies at the Royal College of Art School of Architecture. From 2010-2016 he was the inaugural Director of Photography and Situated Media at the University of Technology Sydney and is a co-founder of the N curatorial collective and the Fiction Feeling Frame research collective.

Read more


Mosaic Rooms: Nuclear Colonialism

4 June 2024

Untitled (Taranaki), 2023

Join us for a panel with David Burns, Samia Henni, Alisher Khassenaliyev and Maïa Tellit Hawad to discuss historic and ongoing impacts of nuclear colonialism, toxicity, and extraction. Departing from our current exhibition Performing Colonial Toxicity the conversation will draw attention to histories and impact of nuclear weapons testing, producing and disposing across multiple geographies, in particular the Sahara, Kazakhstan and Maralinga (South Australia). The panelists will discuss the continuing struggle for justice against nuclear colonialism and its disproportionate impacts on Indigenous peoples.

Mosaic Rooms, London
4 June 2024, 7pm

Read more

Victorian College of Arts, Art Forum Series

4 May 2023

Untitled (Tig Point), 2023

This talk, and accompanying collection of photographs and found media, traces the contested histories and narratives surrounding the British nuclear testing in South Australia in the 1950s and 60s. Through a critical analysis of media and imaging technologies, Burns will uncover the interconnectedness of media archives and intergenerational trauma.

Read more

II International Congress - Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes: Architecture Colonialism War

18-20 January 2023

Colonial and Post-Colonial Landscapes

The infrastructure of the colonial territories obeyed the logic of economic exploitation, territorial domain and commercial dynamics among others that left deep marks in the constructed landscape. The rationales applied to the decisions behind the construction of infrastructures varied according to the historical period, the political model of colonial administration and the international conjuncture. This congress seeks to bring to the knowledge of the scientific community the dynamics of occupation and transformation of colonial territory, especially related to and resulting from the war effort, which involved not only the agency of architecture and urbanism but also of military apparatus, and its repercussions in the same territories as independent countries. Colonial infrastructures will be addressed to question, for instance, how housing production during armed conflict has conditioned future spatial models of the independent countries or what options taken by colonial administrations were abandoned or otherwise strengthened after independence.

Read more

"Fieldwork for Future Ecologies"


Fieldwork for Future Ecologies

"Bringing together contributions by artists, writers and theorists, ‘Fieldwork for Future Ecologies’ addresses the role that art practice and art-based research plays in expanding notions of fieldwork. At once a handbook for research and practice and a philosophical speculation, this book offers the unique opportunity to explore ways of working within vastly diverse climates and terrains using image, sound, movement and other sensing technologies. It also offers more creative and speculative interventions into the idea and location of the ‘field’ itself."

Read more

"Yhonnie Scarce with David Burns"

11 June 2022

Yhonnie Scarce

Yhonnie Scarce introduces her new work, The Near Breeder (2022) with David Burns, researcher in the historiographies of sites of nuclear colonialism at a special conversation event at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
11 June 2022, 6-7pm

Tickets and further information

Read more

AA Files #78


AA Files

"Roads to Maralinga", a first-person account of the drive from Ceduna, South Australia to Maralinga, along with a collection of photographs, has been published in the new issue of AA Files.

Read more

The Rose Garden Conference

23 October 2021

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden Conference invites artists, scientists, activists and writers from across the fields of nuclear policy and plant studies, to tell their stories, to share their practices and to shed light on less-visible, unjustly buried histories.

Read more

RELAY - Biennale Architettura 2021

16-17 July 2021


RELAY, curated by Fiction Feeling Frame, is a durational conversation, a ritual in circumferential publicness, a performance becoming telegraph, current, message. RELAY is a 24-hour global conversation hosted by the Biennale Architettura 2021.

Read more

AA: Representation / Investigation - Media in Architecture, the Territory and the Urban

30 April 2021


The Symposium aims to bring together researchers, architects and artists to explore the use of media and representation of space as a form of multi-scalar investigation, from architecture to the territory and the urban.

Read more

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay in Conversation with David Burns

12 November 2020


Artist, filmmaker, and professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay will be joined by David Burns in a conversation to unfold photography, archives, and museums as imperialist extractivist technologies that sustain a project of world destruction. How do we unlearn this imperial project and conjure other ways of being in the world? The conversation will be prompted by an introduction by Adrian Lahoud.

Read more

Birkbeck: Apocalyptic Archives: Nuclear Landscapes & Material Histories

6 December 2019


From British military activities at the Maralinga test site in South Australia during the cold war period of 1956-63 to the more recent discovery of radioactive contaminates off the West Coast of Canada linked to the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi four years earlier, these researchers explore the archival capacities of landscapes to recall and bear witness to the dispersed evidential histories of nuclear colonialism and energy production. Using their own image-making practice as a kind of divining rod for delving into the material memories of landscapes in combination with references to the works of other artists, Burns and Schuppli extend the classic photographic index to environmental systems themselves, treating landscapes as latent media whose inscriptive surfaces and chemical re-arrangements function as mnemonic devices for reassembling the past.

Read more

Magnum Photos: The Camera as Tool

26 June 2019

Magnum Photos and the Barbican Centre are pleased to announce an all-day symposium showcasing four panel discussions with Magnum photographers and invited guests, and two keynote presentations by speakers from the worlds of journalism and the arts. The symposium will explore four thematics closely related to the contemporary agency: trust and authenticity; humanism; imaging, technology, and the digital environment; and authorship and creativity.

Antoine D'Agata and Sohrab Hura, with David Burns
Magnum Photos: The Camera as Tool
Barbican Centre
26 June 2019

Read more


Two Crosses

Two Crosses was exhibited in the group show "Todd McMillan, Michael Moran, David Burns: New Work"
Carlton Street Project Space, Sydney, NSW Australia
6-22 November 2014

Two Crosses 1 Two Crosses 2 Two Crosses 3 Two Crosses 9

Two Tints

Two Tints was exhibited in the group show "What Destroys What"
Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, NSW Australia
21-25 November 2013

Sponsored by the Experimental Curators Program at Firstdraft Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Design Practices at UTS.

Catalogue published by Firstdraft Gallery and N Editions.

Two Tints 3 Two Tints 1 Two Tints 2

Group show installation photographs

Frank Minnaërt
Todd McMillan
Todd McMillan


Bifurcation 1 Bifurcation 2

Modernism insisted that form and function were symbiotically intertwined, neither existing without the other. Art, therefore, existed as a necessary accoutrement for the modernist skyscraper. The examples of this phenomenon are many: Alexander Calder’s Flamingo (1974) outside Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Plaza and Picasso’s untitled sculpture (1967) at Daley Plaza, both in Chicago, and of course Calder’s Crossed Blades (1974) at Sydney's Australia Square. These sculptures, constructed of architectural materials and at an exaggerated scale, served as monumental decoration; placed deliberately in our line of sight to break up the repetition and severity of the architecture behind.

However, the recent proliferation and success of architecture biennials, the prolonged pattern of signature architectural commissions, and the reemergence of the architecture pavilion, suggests an evolution of this tacit agreement. Did architecture and art swap sides? Has architecture evolved into the ultimate public art commission?

This proposed architectural installation — Bifurcation — exists simultaneously as a reference to the epic public art commissions of the past and as an acknowledgement of architecture’s evolving role in public discourse. It addresses the austere radial plan of Harry Seidler’s Australia Square by bifurcating the lobby with two symmetrical towers constructed of standard scaffolding. The new horizontal towers suggest a transitory state through a conflation of material heft and formal transparency. The scaffolding appears to puncture the glass curtain wall extending the lobby to the courtyard plinth beyond. As the sun sets on the opening night, the glass will mirror the towers to create visual indeterminacy, allowing for a literal reflection on the state of architecture and public art.

Bifurcation 3

Six Planes

Six Planes was exhibited in the group show "Co-isolated: Orange", featuring new work by Richard Goodwin, Michael Snape, and David Burns.
Wentworth Mine, Lucknow, NSW Australia
14-17 April 2012

Presented by Orange Regional Gallery, curated by Alan Sisley and the artists

Six Planes 1 Six Planes 2 Six Planes 3 Six Planes 4 Six Planes 5

Two Planes

Two Planes was exhibited in the group show "Co-isolated", featuring new work by Richard Goodwin, Michael Snape, and David Burns
South Sydney Corporate Park, Sydney, NSW Australia
16-19 April 2010

"Aesthetic k-hole", Adrian Lahoud — excerpt from the catalogue text

David Burns is a junkie for repetition; his work is an aesthetic k-hole.

Ketamine is an anaesthetic; pharmaceutically speaking it belongs to the class of drugs known as dissociatives which operate by blocking signals to the brain. According to frequent users, the slight overdose called a ‘k-hole’ is the closest one can get to death without actually dying, its effects include an inability to think, extreme tunnelling of vision and an overwhelming sense of cold dread. If ecstasy is a ‘tactile temptress’ full of baroque intricacy, ketamine is pure Miesien box.
Lights on.
No one inside.

David Burns is a junkie for repetition; his work is an anaesthetic for the ecstasy generation, a generation hooked on sensational intensity.

There is something terrifyingly destructive about insistent repetition. It lays waste to our sense making apparatus, annihilates coordinates of reference and etherizes the self to the point of oblivion. In this infinitesimal calculus of sensation, cold mechanical repetition reveals itself as nothing less than the affective DNA of modernity itself.
The thin white lines.
The cold corridors.
The rectilinear banks of fluorescent light.
No one inside.

It’s the closest you can get to death.

Two Planes 1

Richard Goodwin
Foreground: Richard Goodwin; background: Michael Snape

Two Planes 06 Two Planes 7 Two Planes 7

Partial Architectures

Gallery 103, Knoxville, TN USA
18 January - 17 February 2012
Curated by Matt Hall

EDGE studio Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA USA
3-24 February 2012
Curated by Anne Chen

Partial Architectures catalog published by University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design Press.

Partial Architectures 2

Partial Architectures 1 Partial Architectures 3

Partial Architectures 5


Tripoli 1 Tripoli 8 Tripoli 5 Tripoli 3 Tripoli 2

Tripoli 7

Moire Studies


Triptych was originally exhibited in the solo show "Triptych 01"
DAB LAB Research Gallery, Sydney, NSW Australia
12-27 March 2009
Curated by Aanya Roennfeldt

Triptych 4 Triptych 5 Triptych 6

Point of View

Point of View was exhibited in the group show "Gestures"
The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh, PA USA
5 June – 31 July 2005

Curated by Michael Olijnyk and Graham Shearing


End on End

End on End was exhibited in the solo show of the same name
Future Tenant Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA USA
29 January – 25 February 2005

End on End 3 End on End 1 End on End 5
End on End 2

Curation and publishing

Fables for the Drone Age by Richard Goodwin (N Editions)

Fables for the Drone Age features 14 maquettes and small sculptures, spanning three decades of practice by Australian artist and architect Richard Goodwin. Constructed of plastic model parts of airplanes, motorcycles, and helicopters, combined with wood, metal, and primer paint, each is a proposition for an intervention in the city. Goodwin’s delicate yet aggressive maquettes suggest an event in action, a single frame of a film or the painful process of transformation.

Published in 2017 by N Editions, edited by David Burns.

Full details and purchasing information at N Editions.

Prayer Flags LP (N Editions)

Debut LP by Nashville band Prayer Flags.

Full details and purchasing information at N Editions.

Prayer Flags 1 Richard Goodwin 2

RCA School of Architecture Research Folios

Samples from 2017-2018

Samples from 2016-2017

Click here for complete set of books

UTS Photography and Situated Media Catalogues and Exhibitions

Honours 2014

Subtext - End of Year 2014

Situations - End of Year 2013

End of Year 2011

Architecture as Public Art: Beyond the Object - Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

"Architecture as Public Art: Beyond the Object" was a conversation curated by David Burns and Sam Spurr at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation on issues surrounding the 2014 Fugitive Structures pavilion, Trifolium by AR-MA. The event examined the current phenomenon of architecture contributing to, and acting as public art. Urtzi Grau of Fake Industries Architectural Agonism joined N directors Sam Spurr and David Burns to trace the emergence of the architecture 'folly' to the contemporary fascination with the 'pavilion' through the lens of public art.

Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, NSW Australia
16 September 2014

Sherman 1

Robert Beson and Gabriele Ulacco in Conversation - Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

Dissonance - Arts Centre Melbourne and Pin-up Gallery

Audio Architecture

Presented by the Arts Centre Melbourne, the Audio Architecture 24hr Design Camp attracted a diverse group of architecture, art, design, and sound students for a rigorous design charette over July 28-29, 2012.

Written and directed by Sam Spurr and David Burns of the Sydney-based curatorial collective N, the camp was a spatial study of “dissonance”. Over an intensive 24 hours, students explored the creative and collaborative intersections of sound and architecture through workshops, discussions, performances, and design experiments. The provocation was to create a space in tension, oscillating between harmony and discord, an analysis centering on states of instability and their inherent dynamism.

Hamer Hall architect Ian McDougall, acoustic engineer Peter Exton, New York architect Joel Sanders, the sound collectives of Super Critical Mass, Urban Ecologies, and Snawklor, all took the students through their own creative procedures in audio architecture during the course of the day.

Students broke into teams focusing on Sound, Performance, Image, Space, and Time. They collectively debated the violence of sound, the desire to be subsumed, and the art of silence, building a manifesto on sound and space that would propel them through the night. Embracing the risk of performance and its inherent indeterminacy, the following morning they enacted a series of interventions in Hamer Hall. As physical invitations to participate, these engaged the public in the intimate discussions of the previous 24 hours.

Using cinematic, performative, and architectural techniques, an exhibition was created that translated and transposed those fleeting events from Hamer Hall to Pin-up Gallery.

Covers of the three issues of the Dissonance research zine.

  • Full project details at the Collective N website
  • Audio Architecture was curated by Office for Good Design

Parlour Projects for Thomas Demand - Kaldor Public Art Projects

Thomas Demand, Daily #12 (2009)

N collaborated with Kaldor Public Art Projects on a series of events to coincide with "The Dailies" by Thomas Demand with support from the UTS School of Design.

N organized Sylvia Lavin and Charles Rice to travel to Sydney to participate in the two keynote lecture events alongside Thomas Demand at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

In addition, N curated two of Kaldor Public Art Project's "Parlour Projects". On Thursday April 5 and Thursday April 19, N organised panel discussions, model-making workshops, architectural interventions, film screenings, and student interaction and exhibitions.

Jill Daves, Natalya Hughes - Carlton Project Space

Jill Daves, Natalya Hughes. was an exhibition of new paintings and site specific installations by Los Angeles based artist Jill Daves and Sydney's Natalya Hughes. Common to each artist’s practice is a preoccupation with pattern, repetition, and the spatial implications of art. Each artist creates work that oscillates between the gallery and the wall, between overlay and intervention, between theory and practice. In this exhibition, the two artists have engaged each other’s practice to create a symbiotic, yet contradictory, relationship.

Curated by David Burns

What Destroys What - Firstdraft Gallery

Cover of What Destroys What catalogue, featuring Frank Minnaërt

Instead of causing us to remember the past like the old monuments, the new monuments seem to cause us to forget the future.1

"What Destroys What" was an exhibition that sought to create a condition of constructive enmity. Six exhibitors (three artists, three architects) were invited based on the alchemical transmutability identified in the conceptual, material, and formal realities of their work. These states of oppositional transference are productive, provocative, and opportunistic: material evolving into time, space transforming into concept, structure devolving into air. Slow, invisible, irreversible.

Exhibitors: Todd McMillan, Nadia Wagner, Frank Minnaërt, Ms&Mr, Justine Varga, David Burns
Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, NSW Australia
21-25 November 2012

Curated by David Burns

1:Robert Smithson, “Entropy and the New Monuments”

How to be a good witness. - Prague Quadrennial

Communication is an invitation to misinterpret the other. Linguistic translation circles around this possibility - caught between verisimilitude and sense, it attempts to reconcile both knowing it cannot fully capture either. The space between different languages is mirrored in the gap between different forms of artistic and spatial practice. These practices form out of the broad array of objects, tools, procedures and discourses that accumulate like sediment in the body of the respective disciplines. Translating across these different worlds involves work. Making a map between a diverse and heterogenous series of things and their different intents; drawings, photos, performance and texts, is never a simple matter, while the map that emerges resembles the cartography of unexplored continents, filled with blank spaces and riddled with blind spots.

This art project - first presented at the Prague Quadrennial in June 2011 and redeveloped for the Gwangju Design Biennale - is a game of chinese whispers at the scale of the city. This game is structured around the impossibility of making a map of the city and its streets, between people and their artistic practice. The blank spaces between are not understood as empty zones to be bridged, rather they are overfull with productive potential. They become spaces for a type of translation based in fantasy and speculation.

At the largest scale, the project is a machine for procurement, recording and distribution. Its object is the scenographic potential of the city. At the scale of each node, a single participant is installed in the machine and caught in a circuit of invitation, translation and communication with their neighbours. Their objective is to make a singular point in the city.

Australian contribution to the "Architecture Section" of the 2011 Prague Quadrennial
Australian National Curator: Lawrence Wallen
Curators: David Burns, Adrian Lahoud & Samantha Spurr
16-26 June 2011

Jack Dunbar and Tosh van Veenendaal

Exhibited artists, architects and writers:
Andrew Benjamin
Barnaby Bennett & Byron Kinnaird
Robert Beson
Thomas Cole & Felicia Huang
Pia Ednie-Brown & Jondi Keane
Erik Escalante & Alina McConnochie
Chris Fox
Richard Goodwin
Tim Gregory
Sarah Hearne
Sarah Jamieson & Nadia Wagner
Adam Jasper
Eduardo Kairuz
Frank Minnaërt
Fernando Pino & Luke Tipene
Tina Salama
Sam Szwarcbord
Leisa Tough
Marcus Trimble
Jaime Tsai
Oliver Watts
Alexandra Wright

Networks of surrender. - Gwangju Design Biennale


Surrender is the renunciation of control. When freely given it is an act of ultimate generosity; a leap into potentiality and the rapture of the unknown. A community is described in this project not by collective similarities but by an individual's willingness to surrender their ideas to another.

Over twenty architects, designers, philosophers and photographers across Sydney have participated in a series of creative conversations, which transform the image of this harbour city from generic postcard perfection to a set of multiplicitous, individual urban narratives.

These are networks of surrender, whose ambition is not the cohesion of a finished, consumerable product, but the construction of new communities for creative work.

"Networks of surrender" was the Sydney contribution to the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale
Gwangju Design Biennalle Artistic Directors: Seung H-Sang and Ai WeiWei
"Communities" section curator: Beatrice Galilee and Helen Hejung Choi
Curators: David Burns, Adrian Lahoud & Samantha Spurr
2 September – 23 October 2011

Jack Dunbar and Tosh van Veenendaal

Exhibited artists, architects and writers:
Andrew Benjamin
Barnaby Bennett & Byron Kinnaird
Robert Beson
Thomas Cole & Felicia Huang
Pia Ednie-Brown & Jondi Keane
Erik Escalante & Alina McConnochie
Chris Fox
Richard Goodwin
Tim Gregory
Sarah Hearne
Sarah Jamieson & Nadia Wagner
Adam Jasper
Eduardo Kairuz
Frank Minnaërt
Fernando Pino & Luke Tipene
Tina Salama
Sam Szwarcbord
Leisa Tough
Marcus Trimble
Jaime Tsai
Oliver Watts
Alexandra Wright



The Index Forum was a round table conversation supported by the School of Architecture and the School of Design at the University of Technology, Sydney. There were six seats at the table; two were occupied by invited guests Charles Renfro and Eva Franch i Gilabert, three seats were occupied by the curators - David Burns, Adrian Lahoud, and Sam Spurr. A sixth seat was used to call upon a changing roster of guests to make contributions to the conversation.

Administration Building
26 Broadway, Sydney, NSW Australia
4 December 2011

Agenda 2008

The projects and essays contained in this book constitute an agenda, a curated cross-section of a moment in transition. The book is an attempt to analyse and interpret the present condition of disruption through a diverse range of speculative projects that propose a reshaping of our cities, our environment, and our aesthetic sensibilities. It is an agenda that outlines a series of intelligent, creative and risk-taking tactics about our future, while maintaining a sober understanding of the magnitude of what is at stake.

Agenda 2008 was published by UTS DAB DOCS.

Agenda Agenda



FLUX is a dynamic arts event that unites artists, musicians, performers, and tons of Pittsburghers for one night of seasonal mayhem. We were commissioned to help them organise the exhibit, design and build the event architecture, and curate some of the artists.

This edition of FLUX took place in two empty floors of an office building in downtown Pittsburgh. The 40,000 square feet of exhibition space was raw, only a regular grid of massive columns and no lighting. The building was due for massive construction, so alterations to the building were not allowed. To satisfy the diversity of the participants and unite the exhibition simultaneously, we created a variety of spaces using an assortment of stretch wraps. 5" wide translucent red, 20" opaque black, each providing a unique spatial condition for projection, performance, 2D art, and simply hanging out.

New site specific projects were commissioned by Jill Daves, Dee Briggs, and Kate Joranson.


How to be a good witness: The Architecture Curator - Routledge

Chapter abstract:

To criticize means to call into crisis.1

Barthes’ definition of criticism describes an act of disturbance, the rupturing of a contemporary condition that might open the space up to new ways of working; or, as Roland Champagne’s translation clarifies, the performance of criticism is the inciting to crisis. This ‘call-to-arms’ comes at a time of dire need for the discipline of architecture fighting for its value in the contemporary world. The massive transformations of our built environment wrought by climate change, the social unrest of spiraling inequality, and the mass migrations of our global population (both forced and otherwise), demand a much greater engagement from our spatial practitioners to more actively engage the complex systems that influence and create the built environment. The scope of these issues is too vast to be address in the design of a building, or even of a city. A possible and active response is that of curation, which may be posited as an ideal performative mode in which to argue against the conventions of architectural practice, bringing together multiple disciplines in the critical engagement of space.

The Eyes Have It and the Eyes Always Will - e-flux

Film still from Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1970)

Essay abstract:

In 1977, Susan Sontag observed that situations were increasingly being mediated by, or in fact created by the camera. Despite their disparity, events become unified by the camera for the sake of the photograph. Sontag called it a “chronic voyeuristic relation to the world”. The pervasive eye of the camera becomes self-fulfilling; seeing the event, being seen by the event, and ultimately creating the only remnant of the event. The eyes have it and the eyes always will.

Substitute tweet for photograph and Sontag seems to have predicted the phenomenon that Boris Groys calls “self-design”: the impulse to create a deliberate, idealized online personality. What Sontag could never imagine is the level at which twenty-first century power, celebrity, and economics would rely on the successful creation of an online persona and the distressing results achievable to those with the greatest ability. Capitalism has metastasized such that the production of tangible material is no longer necessary; simply mastering Twitter is a viable business plan (or political strategy). And while many critics have voiced clear warnings about online celebrity, peak self-design seems nowhere in sight.

Read more

The Pacific Solution - Disegno Journal

Pacific Solution

Article abstract:

In August 2001, the Australian government was reeling. In the run up to the November federal elections, polls had revealed a slim lead for the opposition Labour candidates and John Howard, the prime minister and leader of the centre-right Liberal party, became desperate. As if on cue, on 24 August, an Indonesian fishing boat overloaded with people seeking asylum – the Palapa 1 – became stranded in the Indian Ocean, feeding concerns over border protection. The situation worsened following the September 11 attacks and the climate of fear and suspicion that spread throughout the west. Then, on 6 October, another boat, designated SIEV 4 (Suspected Irregular Entry Vehicle 4), appeared close to Australian waters. The Australian navy claimed the passengers on this ship were throwing children overboard to force passage to Australia. Howard had the ammunition he needed and hastily drafted a series of amendments to migration laws: strict punishment for those arriving by sea, retroactive immunity for the government’s actions and automatic mandatory detention in offshore camps. The Pacific Solution was enacted.

Read more

Malleable and Mortal

Jill Daves

Jill Daves

Essay abstract:

In the opening pages of the canonical Learning from Las Vegas, architectural theorists Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Steven Izenour attack the Modernist attitude towards art. They note that while art was common in Modern architecture, it was always an overlay, a non-intrusive affectation, secondary to the architecture. In the quote above we see not only a critique of Mies and his Modern cohort, but also a not-so-subtle comment on the old boys club of Modern architecture. Begun as research for a design studio at UCLA in 1966 by Brown, Learning from Las Vegas caused instant controversy and heralded the end of Modernism with a renewed interest in the discussion of the symbolic in architectural design.

Read more

Precious Inhabitants

Michael Moran

Mies van der Rohe once said, “I don't want to be interesting, I want to be good". This simple statement describes the unease that many feel inside his iconic buildings. His architecture is one of vast, uninterrupted spaces, possessing an emptiness that he understood as universal promise. They lack the saccharin atmosphere that contemporary architecture often presumes. They are not interesting...

Read more

The Political Image

Essay abstract:

Photography, it would seem, is changing. Political upheavals, natural disasters, and self-organising political movements are now witnessed through the unmediated eyes of the participants. This rise in citizen journalism marks the end of the traditional photojournalist who can no longer be trusted to convey the actual life of the city and cannot be expected to understand the minutia of events on the ground. This is a healthy shift. Not only does it reflect an emerging democracy in the witnessing of events, it entrusts a greater responsibility on the viewer to consume and synthesize the information in the process of forming an opinion. This is, of course, problematic. With a flood of first person, non-verifiable information, the potential for misinformation is obvious. However, is it any more fraught with moments of contagion and corruption than contemporary news media?

Read more

To See the City

To See the City

To See the City by N

To see the city, to really see the city I had to remember 1916. This is harder as the years go by, I wasn’t even born yet, but couldn’t help feeling that year had left the city with scars.

You could say the innocence of the city was damaged that year. Polio ravaged the children of New York. Killing thousands. Leaving so many disfigured. Some say the machines of that age are skyscrapers, dams, train stations. What I remember are rooms of cylindrical steel drums, nurses pressed white uniforms and rasping breath. Those “iron lungs” like pressurized cabins for unformed bodies. Machines to mimic life for bodies that had forgotten how to breathe.

I remember that year, the year the East River disappeared. I went to bed in Brooklyn and woke up in Manhattan. They said it was about land values, something about taxation and the growth of the business district. I said it was about safety and protecting all those the city had failed. The city was quarantined. Travellers applied for permits to enter. It wasn’t enough of course; it was as dangerous to let people leave, as it was to let them enter. When the schools and movie theatres began reopening at the end of the year, we realised it was better for everybody if we kept things as they were.

They always spoke about Utopia. It looked great in newsprint but never seemed to make sense. I think the answer is still hiding in those hospital wings, encased in metal.

To See the City was exhibited in the group show Past Futures, Present, Futures
Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, NY
6 October 2012 - 12 January 2013

To See the City


Royal College of Art School of Architecture

Media Studies - core subject in the School of Architecture (2016-present)
Architectural Design Studio 7 (2015-2019)
MRes Architecture Pathway (2016-17)

University of Technology Sydney School of Design - Director, Photography and Situated Media

Director and Senior Lecturer, Photography and Situated Media (2009-2016)

Full UTS PSM details and student work online soon.

University of Technology Sydney School of Architecture

Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture (2008-2009)

Full UTS Architecture details online soon.

Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture (2003-2008)
Visiting Professor, Entertainment Technology Center (2006-2007)

Full CMU Architecture details and student work online soon.

Auburn University School of Architecture

Paul Rudolph Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture (2001-2003)
Rural Studio Thesis Advisor (2003)

Full Auburn Architecture details and student work online soon.


© David Burns, 2024