Scott Myles: Search and Research

Exhibition: 10 Oct - 9 Nov 2009

Scott Myles (born 1975 in Dundee) has developed an exhibition for Projects in Art & Theory entitled Search and Research. In December 1977, Dan Graham performed Performer/Audience/Mirror for the first time, a piece in which he describes the relationships between himself (as performer), the audience and the reflection of both in the mirror: "The audience sees itself reflected by the mirror instantly while the performer’s comments are slightly delayed. First a person in himself, next he hears himself described ‘objectively’ (‘subjectively’) in terms of the performer’s perception." This (perceptual-) psychological significance of art at the interface between the verbal and visual is relevant to Scott Myles, yet his work is primarily concerned with the objects reacting to reflections and performative situations. The corresponding relationships between person and space play a secondary role.

A series of large-format, unique black and silver screenprints The Meaning of Return (2009) recently developed for Projects in Art & Theory shows views of a sculpture ensemble and its reflection in the mirrored walls of a ballet studio. Myles has replaced the dancers with figurine-like abstractions of the human body, sculptural surrogates composed of found everyday objects, be it an altered office chair, stepladder or a wheelchair, and a precisely constructed triangular object. The geometric form of a triangle refers to vertical, horizontal and diagonal planes of a room, an aspect also characteristic of the Unshelves, Myles’ early group of wall sculptures. Attempting to negate and transform or recycle form and function, he doubles the triangular form of a wall shelf, placing one on top of the other, in the form of a congruent triangle. The chair sculptures depicted in the screenprints are part of a continuing series by the artist and reflect not only Myles’ own work but also draw art-historical reference to, for example, Joseph Beuys’ Fettstuhl I from 1964. Beuys sculpture is particularly important, as the wedge of fat on the chair’s seat once again takes the shape of a triangle. Scott Myles’ inexhaustible system of (self-) references, the gaze and gazing-back at things, situations and history serves as an explanatory model for his specific interest in reflections, an interest that plays a particularly important role in this exhibition: on the level of the image the group of sculptures are doubled in the reflection of the ballet studio. In the exhibition space in Cologne, the visitors and the triangular structure placed in the middle are reflected in the matte-silver surface (level) of the screenprints. Finally, Myles also reflects his own oeuvre on a referential level. In 2007 he replaced windowpanes with mirrors, doubling the exhibition space complete with exhibition (Mirror Room. The Modern Institute, Glasgow). In a later work, he derives Evol, the anagram in the title, from Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture (The Unlike Pair. EVOL. Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2008), mirroring words.

In the centre of the exhibition area, the wooden, painted triangular work titled Social Sculpture (2009) appears as a quasi extension of the screenprint images, defining not only its spatial dimensions and limits but also the viewer, marking a physical relationship between space and object. In 2008, Scott Myles performed Reciprocity On Three Planes in which the bodies of three actors – standing, lying and leaning on a wooden, triangular sculpture – are used to outline the elementary shape. The replica on view at Projects in Art & Theory differs from the original prop in its size and painterly-gestural colour application. Freed from its functional context, the object is transformed into an autonomous artwork.

Whether sculpture, installation, print or performance – Myles’ work can be understood as adaptations, ramified references to gestures, works of contemporary art, culture and architecture history as well as social interactions: references to Giorgio de Chirico, Manet, Duchamp or Schlemmer, to conceptual thinkers and psychoanalysts or to his own work, flow into his new work as a kind of formal and aesthetic vocabulary. The surface appearance of objects and displays, which lends them a significant ambiguity on the one hand and the precision of basic, geometric forms on the other, reflects an artistic interest at the threshold between the physical and the ephemeral, the two- and three-dimensional and the search for and investigation of artistic form.