TOTAL DISCLOSURE: An Artist’s Talk by Scott Lyall

Color is less an image than a tangled occupation for thought.

Scott Lyall is a Canadian-born artist, whose practice constructs intricate dispositifs, in which various epistemological models and concrete material processes find themselves in unfamiliar proximity, producing surprising aesthetic and theoretical effects. His print-works, graphic images, and sculptural installations have been exhibited regularly in North America and Europe. Over the past year, he has exhibited at Campoli Presti  (London), Kosterfelde (Berlin), Sutton Lane (Paris), Miguel Abreu (New York), Greene Naftali (New York), Silver Flag (Montreal) and the 7th Montreal Biennial. Other recent shows include The Power Plant (Toronto), Lucky Seven, the 7th SITE Santa Fe Biennial, Schnitte im Raum, (in collaboration with Rachel Harrison) at the Morsbroich, (Leverkusen, Germany) and Collatèral at the Confort Moderne (Poitiers, France). In addition, he continues to collaborate with New York-based choreographer Maria Hassabi, acting as dramaturge.

As part of the Distinguished Visiting Artist Program at UBC’s Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, Lyall plans to discuss his recent use of digital printing and the color effects he has grouped under the general title nudes.  Suggesting a non-painting that has survived the abstract ‘work’, Lyall’s nudes seem to exemplify an equal formal resistance to both the economies of the present and the net of image-signs.  “We are looking at anti-Rothko”, as Aude Launay has written. Color is less an image than a tangled occupation for thought.

“In fact, I do conceive of the contemporary as plastic: little shifts affecting points in the material of history so that the latter, at any moment, becomes a story yet to be told.  If an art work first appears as uncertain to its audience, it first appears as uncertain to those who make it up, as well.  Let me say, then: when I first began making the things in question, I had little sense of anything I was trying to represent.  But there was something in the simple graphic reduction I was using that gave a sense of inconsistency where I expected to see a ground. This something became the motif, but it was hardly a firm object.  I noticed and was attracted to a zone along the surface, very slight, but where you couldn’t exactly perceive the surface image, or couldn’t distinguish whether the image was ‘inside’ or on top. Up close, there was a surface, because the material facts were obvious; from a distance, there was obviously an object of design.  But always, in the relation of the body-before-the-image, there was an atmospheric haze that seemed to erase the surface itself.  If I resolved to speak of ‘motif’ it wasn’t because I’d found an object; it was more that the hazy atmosphere became an issue for my design.  And it wasn’t that I was seeing a spurious distance or an abîme.  My process is the development of a speculative (non-) identity; the motif itself is staged for a transitive distribution in thought.”

(Interview, January, 2012, forthcoming 2012)