Steve Lyons is an artist and writer whose live-feed video installations have recently been exhibited at Espace Electra, Fondation EDF (Paris), Artspace (Peterborough), Gallery 44 (Toronto), Centre des arts actuels Skol (Montreal), and in the 2009 Windsor Biennial at the Art Gallery of Windsor. He received an MA in Art History from Concordia University and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Western Ontario. He participated in a two month artist residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris just prior to beginning his PhD course work at UWO. His studies are funded by the SSHRC.
Since 2008, I have been developing an exhibition-based material practice in which I reconstruct one or more photographs using a live-feed video system and scrap materials collected from inside and around the given gallery space. Assembled within the physical and material constraints of each exhibition space, the live-feed video system translates an assemblage of scrap construction materials into a particular image—whether it be of a Loch Ness observation deck or an installation shot of a Robert Smithson nonsite—on an external monitor. The various components of each display are positioned so particularly that the video-image could be destroyed with only the slightest bump. Each work is designed to be fragile, temporary, and so physically connected to its site of production that it cannot be moved without being physically destroyed. After each exhibition, the works are discarded by gallery staff. I have been presenting situations where projects are built, dismantled, and discarded at one exhibition venue, only to be refabricated in a similar manner at another location. I have been making sculptures that are specifically designed to be photographed, that recognize that an artwork exists not only in the here-and-now of visitor experience, but also in documentation and refabrication.
From my interest in processing artistic material through various mediations comes a parallel academic interest in the convention of the “installation shot” and the increasing presence of installation photography as a primary mode of reception of contemporary art in the 2000s.
In my PhD, I plan to continue to push the limits of my material practice while conducting an art historical study about the installation shot in Western art since the 1960s. While Brian O’Doherty’s 1976 essays famously republished as Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space are foundational to our understanding of the ideologies buried in the seemingly neutral installation shot, much has changed since 1976. With the widespread popularity of online media and the increasingly common reception of art as a series of installation shots, the function, and ultimately the implications of this convention are in need of a new look. A pertinent question could easily be drawn from Joseph Kosuth’s iconic One and Three Chairs (1965): can we make a phenomenological distinction between a material object and an installation photograph of that object? Perhaps this is what a scholar of a previous generation would have asked. It may be more interesting to draw our question from an installation shot of Kosuth’s project taken for the Centre Pompidou collection: what happens when an installation shot proves a shoddy installation? Or, if we leave Kosuth behind and leap into the 21st century, what happens when the installation shot becomes the work itself, as in Michael Riedel’s 2005 exhibition Neo at David Zwirner in New York?
Old Lie New Ground, Artspace, Peterborough, ON (solo), 2011
Rehab, l’art de re-faire, Espace Electra, Fondation EDF, Paris, France, curated by
Monitors, with Susan Lakin, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, ON (two-person), 2010
Loch Ness, Centre des arts actuels Skol, Montreal, QC (solo), 2010
Nine Miles South of Eight Mile: 2009 Windsor Biennial, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON (group), 2009
Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France, sponsored by Ville de Paris and Fondation EDF (October - November 2010)
Lyons, Steve and Ania Wroblewski. “David Hoffos.” Border Crossings 114 (Summer 2010): p.99-100
Selected Conference Presentations/Press
Conference Papers / Artist Lectures
“Stan Douglas and the ‘New-Old’ Film.” Interface 2010: Residual Histories, Carleton University, Ottawa, May 7-8, 2010
“Frauds and Floating Logs in the Waters of Loch Ness.” Artist lecture. Centre des arts actuels Skol, Montreal, QC, January 20, 2010
Selected Press / Exhibition Texts
Lequeux, Emmanuelle. “Pour un art de la décroissance : des oeuvres recyclées à partir de déchets.” Le Monde (Paris), January 13, 2011, p.22
Lequeux, Emmanuelle. “‘Rehab’ à l’Espace Electra : Ou quand les plasticiens poétisent le plastoc.” Beaux Arts Magazine 318 (December 2010): p.140
Ramade, Bénédicte. Rehab: L’art de re-faire. Paris: Gallimard and Fondation EDF Diversiterre, 2010
Moser, Gabrielle. "Reviews: Toronto-Gallery 44." esse arts + opinions 70 (2010): p.79
Davies, Jon. “Monitors: Susan Lakin and Steve Lyons.” Steve Lyons and Susan Lakin: Monitors. Toronto: Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2010. p.6-15
Charron, Marie-Ève. “Faut le voir pour le croire.” Le Devoir (Montreal), January 30-31, 2010, E6
Schütze, Bernard. “Loch Ness by Steve Lyons: On Matters Hidden in Full View.” Centre des arts actuels Skol, 2010
VAH 1054G – Introduction to Visual Culture: The Artist-Thief, 2011