Research in art practice, how important is it? The plagiarism debate.

In the recent debate on whether Emily Kennerk plagiarized my work or not. I wanted to add new information that has surfaced from a recent interview with Emily Kennerk on the debate. Emphasizing objectivity and the facts of this debate until now nothing has been published about her research, which is important when questioning the originality of the work.

Here is an excerpt and a link to MLive in Grand Rapids, Michigan that details how she came upon the idea:

Kennerk, whose work often uses everyday objects, said two events sparked her recent interest in sound as a force: working with visually impaired children on an app using sound as a means of mapping and a visit to Death Valley with her dog, who escaped from her.

Kennerk discovered her voice wouldn’t carry when she tried to call her pet.

“The sound doesn’t travel. It fell out of your mouth onto the ground,” she said. “It was the opposite of an amphitheater.”

Citation from M Live By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
on October 07, 2015 at 4:18 PM, updated October 07, 2015 at 8:13 PM

The extent of what is known about Emily’s research and how she came to the idea is thin to say the least and she has perhaps more information that she could share, but I have yet to see it. If a lost dog and a yet to be disclosed level of participation in an audio software application is the best she can offer, given she does not have any previous work on record showing her involvement in sound there needs to be more evidence that my work did not influence her choice in both presentation and process.

Here is a summary of the research I did for my work relating to kinetic object movement with sound, a timeline and important ideas that led to my work as it is today.


The process that is used in both projects is the use of amplified sound to generate movement based on audio input. Her process is described in the recent NUVO article, a local Weekly in Indiana here: “a 70 foot table, covered in white dinnerware, that responds to the sound waves of someone whispering into a microphone.”

My projects listed in the exhibitions below have all incorporated movement generated through sound in the following scenarios: interactively with the audience, direct sound produced via pre- recorded material and via performance with musical and experimental instruments.

Provenance of the Work, Research and History

The provenance of my work is directly related to two important artists and their theoretical work. Jean Tinguely took stances against the production of static art seeing static art as lacking in evolution, his Homage to New York in 1960 at the MOMA underscores the idea of ceaseless change a world in constant struggle between decay/destruction and renewal, his work known as Meta Mechanics is a big inspiration and caused me to title mine Metasonic as an homage to his work. the second artist is Gustav Metzger a German artist well known for his concept of Auto Destructive Art, encouraging work that is in a constant state of disintegration and decay. Excerpts from my thesis published in 2009 are attached to the documents section below.

The use of sound as motivating element to cause movement are a direct attribution to documented work by well known artists, my research and knowledge of the properties of sound allowed me to build and experiment on work in early 2008.

I do not know the provenance of Emily’s work and therefore cannot comment on it other than the quote on the article in Nuvo states: “The kicker is that Kennerk has NEVER worked with sound before.” The capitalization is not editorial on my part it is in fact written in that format.

I have worked with sound in the context of live performance since 1989, I have worked with sound in the visual art context since 1992 a solo exhibition at Virginia Commonwealth University during my undergraduate years.

Another important element of my research is the knowledge of what is known as Chladni patterns. Ernst Chladni discovered that physical material responded to sound and sound frequencies, the response of physical objects to certain sound frequencies is to create patterns. Chladni’s research relegated itself to particulate matter such as sand and salt, I took this experiment further when I used objects where the balance, fragility and weight were taken into account to cause motion in objects with the use of sound.

I do not know the extent of research and familiarity Emily has with these processes or the progenitors of such art, I strictly know that she has never worked with sound prior to her new proposal.


I am listing the Exhibitions that use the metasonic process here, I am marking the ones that specifically use a dinner table in Bold, the others use the process but do not use a dinner table however the outcome, play and interaction are similar. A short description is added to each:

ISEA2015 Disrupt, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada August 2015

I have received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nevada Arts Council to exhibit Materialism/Antagonism for this conference. The work includes a dinner set made with fragments of crystals, tables and chairs on a platform.

MAS @TAM,Torrance art Museum, Torrance, California (electronic sculpture) July 2014
This work studies the replacement of speaker elements with sound reactive weighted motors that cause effects similar to Chladni patterns

Democracy of Averages at (e)Merge Art Fair, Washington DC.(performance) October 2014 Live performance and deconstruction using sound of architectural elements.

MAS Vegas, Vast Spaces, Henderson Nevada (electronic sculpture) June 2014
This work includes tables chairs and dinnerware the sound used was in collaboration with artist Stephen Hendee in conjunction with live sound produced at the exhibit.

New Citadel, P3 Studio Art Production Fund Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort Las Vegas, Nevada(installation)(solo) August 2013
This work created and interactive sculpture where the audience was encouraged to create sound by means of electronic consoles to cause movement in the sculptural elements of a city that was also fabricated by the viewer, therefore taking part in the city’s creation and destruction.

Performance Studies International #19, Stanford University, Stanford California. (performance) June 2013
This work included chair, tables and dinnerware and was part of the performance symposium hosted by Stanford University, in this case I played an Organ live to an audience with the structures collapsing while I played.

Beautiful Fields: Memphis Social, an Apex Art Franchise Exhibition Memphis Tennessee Curated by Tom McGlynn(Installation)May 2013
This work included architectural elements made with materials common in Tennessee the process in this case was sound generated by the audience via microphones and instrumentation, to cause the architectural elements to collapse.

Beyond Sunrise Mountain, Clark County Government Center Las Vegas Nevada (sculpture installation)(solo) February 2013
The exhibit work related to the metasonic series was called Disassembling Tributes to Frontier, Dunes and Stardust. three platforms were used to “implode” representations of the three Vegas casinos during a performance using sound as the force to disassemble the work.

metasonic Contemporary Art Center, Las Vegas, Nevada (installation art). May 2009 Architectural elements and audience participation of movement of objects in combination with sound activated movement participants encouraged to manipulate objects manually.

Fragile Loris Contemporary Art, Berlin Germany Curated by Jens Luestraeten (video). May 2009
Video documentation of initial tests of the metasonic process used with architectural like objects in a four channel video and audio presentation of tests done in 2008.

emergency: Thesis Exhibition Donna Beam Gallery University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada (installation art) (solo). March 2009
This was the first exhibit of the Metasonic series part of a larger interactive installation where electronics were uses to capture the sounds of the spectators in the exhibit gallery and were electronically translated to both lighting sequences and audio responses. The Work within that installation was Known as Metasonic Gathering in this case a table and chairs were used, the chairs were on top of platforms that would collapse based on sonic frequencies.

Physical Characteristics

The visual and physical character of a work is of paramount importance in the visual arts. Without convocation of time based processes such as sound, motion and interactivity, the shape , dimensions and parts used to create a work are what often remain the most available documentation of a work.
The only documentation I have access to is a picture of Emily’s work in the article on Nuvo based on that alone the materials are different but the formal elements and objects are the same. She intends on making a 70 foot table with dinnerware as a physical manifestation of her work, the scale is full sized. My work has also consisted of a table with dinnerware, the size of my work at the thesis exhibition was full size, the work presented at Stanford included dinnerware and was scaled down.


In the metasonic series of work I have utilized several strategies to create the sound needed to generate movement in my work. These are the most important ones:

  1. Direct sound and feedback by audience using microphones and musical instruments both analog anddigital. (thesis exhibit 2008)
  2. Sound created by performances in which the audio is created live and presented in front of anaudience.
  3. Recorded sound played back via an audio routing of pre-recorded material.
  4. Sound used from an itinerant radio transmission that was routed to the amplification system Thetransmission sounds generated by the audience of the radio station I created moved and shattered a scultpture in a different location via vocal and instrumental devices.



My work on the metasonic (kinetic motion of sculptures and objects via sound) process started around the spring of 2008 with experiments on architectural elements.

During the summer of that year I worked exhaustively to perfect the metasonic process. Emily began working at UNLV as Assistant Professor in the fall of 2008 I had one Independent Study with Emily not sure in the Fall of 08 a full concept plan was completed for my thesis exhibit and production was already in place she had access to privileged knowledge of my work on the metasonic series.


I exhibited the metasonic process three times, twice in Las Vegas and once in Berlin.

Emily was on my email list from 2009 to 2015 which she may or may have not read.

2010 through 2012

This period was largely spent on research for subsequent versions of the metasonic series and other works.


A total of four exhibitions used the metasonic process, including the work at Stanford which most closely resembles the work pitched by Emily.


Three exhibitions used this process including the exhibit at Vast Spaces which bears many similarities to Emily’s proposal.


The work done at Stanford and Vast Spaces was rewarded by the Jurors of the International Symposium of Electronic Arts and selected it to be shown in Vancouver as part of the ISEA Disrupt 2015

I do not know when exactly Emily quit her job at UNLV.

Education and Professional Experience

I am a dedicated working artist with an extensive experience in the field of visual arts and audio, with several published audio works and with an extensive visual art exhibition record. I received my Masters from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and my Bachelors at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond Virginia. In addition to this I was Graduate Program Manager at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1999 to 2006.

Documentation Text

Extract from my thesis written in 2008-2009:

In 1959 Gustav Metzger wrote in his “Auto-Destructive Art Manifesto” that “ Auto- Destructive paintings, sculpture and constructions have a lifetime varying from a few moments to twenty years. When the disintegrated process is complete the work is to be removed from the site and scrapped.”(1) One of the most notable event/exhibitions coming from this strain of conceptualization is Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art; this piece radically underscores the concept of destruction as an elemental function of both natural forces and human culture. As Tinguely wrote in his untitled artist statement “ Get used to seeing things, ideas, and works in their state of ceaseless change” he continued “ Today we can no longer believe in permanent laws, defined religions, durable architecture or eternal kingdoms. Immutability does not exist, all is movement. All is static, we are afraid of movement

because it stands for decomposition, because we see our own disintegration in
movement.” (2)Both Metzger and Tinguely took stances against the production of static art, seeing in it a lack of evolution. Yet both artist’s stances are permeated with subtle differences: while both maintain that destruction is an elemental part of a journey, Metzger positions it as the elemental force of change while Tinguely emphasizes that destruction is analogous with creation. Both artists see transformation as a tool to elaborate on their concept of deconstruction and place this concept in relation to a time-based aesthetic that enables time as a subject.

Extract from the published description of the work shown at Stanford University:

“The work I created for Stanford is a scale model of a dinner table that is built explicitly to fall apart. The work speaks of relationships built around the table and starts off with uniformity and symmetry, over the course of the performance we see fractures, separations, disarray. Members of the dinner party disappear, the table is coming apart, silverware and plates scatter all over the floor. In the end all that is left are a few remnants, and fading memory. “ July 2013

Extract from the published description of the work for the exhibit at Vast Spaces 2013

“The work consists of a scale model sized crystal luxury dinner table that is deconstructed in the time span between 8 to 10 minutes. The sculpture kinetically degrades via electronic amplification and dissonant sound frequency emitted from a vintage 70’s organ. The work

critiques the influential class and its relation to the deterioration of democratic process. Antagonism being an instrument to counter this relationship amongst the disaffected.
The sound that accompanies this work is an improvised performance by the artist that uses sound to generate movement and deterioration of the structures. Stephen Hendee friend and colleague will be a collaborator in designing and producing the sound work for Mas Attack at Vast Spaces.”

News articles Mentioning the work:

Las Vegas Takes Center Stage In Large-Scale Art Project at MAS Vegas Huffington Post JK Russ 7-22-2014
Critical Correspondence “New Citadel” Critical Correspondence 9-19-2013
Steve Bornfeld “You Make it You Break It” Las Vegas Seven 9-11-2013

Dawn-Michelle Baude “P3 Resident David Sanchez Burr Speeds up the Vegas Life Cycle” Las Vegas Weekly 8-28-2013
Jay Jones “Las Vegas: Cosmopolitan’s fall artists use sound, sketches, sand” LA Times 8-30-2013 David Hardy “New Citadel at P3 Studio” Arts Vegas 8-23-2013

Critical Correspondence “Beyond Sunrise Mountain” Critical Correspondence 3-20-2013
Andrew Taylor “Sunrise Mountain serves as inspiration for art installation” Las Vegas Review Journal, 2/19/2013
Heidi Keiser “It’s Your Last Chance to Go Beyond Sunrise Mountain” DTLV 3-2-2013

Images Documentation

Emergency Exhibit 2009 Donna Beam Gallery. Metasonic Gathering is a Kinetic and Interactive sculpture of a dinner table in which the chairs slowly disintegrating over the span of the exhibition using sound frequencies to cause physical movement. These two images represent the initial stage and the end stage during my closing reception. Emily Kennerk was present at this exhibit.


090306Sanchez _DSC0288

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.39.08 AM

This link is a short time lapse of the effect of the work davidsanchezburr/video-metasonicgathering.html

Exhibit at Stanford University in California for the Performance Studies International in 2013
The kinetic performance and exhibit was a dinner table complete with a dinner set including plates and utensils. The work was de-constructed with the use of an analog organ and amplification system that made the physical elements move and shatter.


Exhibit at Vast Spaces in Las Vegas 2013, a performance in which over 150 people were in attendance. This work was similar to the work in Stanford but the sound and frequency patterns were more refined, this documentation drew enough interest to be invited to ISEA 2015 in Vancouver. The Images are of before and after.



New Citadel, P3 Studio Art Production Fund Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort Las Vegas, Nevada(installation)(solo) August 2013
This work created and interactive sculpture where the audience was encouraged to create sound by means of electronic consoles to cause movement in the sculptural elements of a city that was also fabricated by the viewer, therefore taking part in the city’s creation and destruction.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.41.41 AM

Beautiful Fields: Memphis Social, an Apex Art Franchise Exhibition Memphis Tennessee Curated by Tom McGlynn(Installation)May 2013
This work included architectural elements made with materials common in Tennessee the process in this case was sound generated by the audience via microphones and instrumentation, to cause the architectural elements to collapse.


Video Documentation

Using Chairs and Table

Emergency Thesis Exhibit in 2009
This link is a short time lapse of the effect of the work

Video of rehearsal for Stanford California 2013

Video of work for MAS at Vast Spaces 2014

Using other elements

Documentation of New Citadel at P3 Studios in 2013 shows the process of motion.

Metasonic Unveiled Live at (emerge) art fair in Washington DC 2014

These Fractures Go Largely Unnoticed and Radio Love and Memphis (time-lapse) in Memphis Tennessee 2013

Documentation of New Citadel

Important Links

Article in Novo Magazine and alternative news magazine in Indiana on Emily Kennerk’s work: night

Gustav Metzger important figure in the art world and author of the Auto Destructive Manifesto:

Jean Tinguely important artist and creator of Metamechanics:

Ernst Chladni Physicist, Musician and Inventor:

My response to this debacle: or-not/

David Sanchez Burr

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