Miguel Abreu

Scott Lyall

12 Sep - 25 Oct 2015

© Scott Lyall
Black Glass
Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2015
Installation view
Black Glass
12 September – 25 October 2015

Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to announce the opening, on Saturday, September 12th, of Black Glass, Scott Lyall’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The show will be on view at our 88 Eldridge Street location.

In the myth of Daedalus,all thingsveer from thestraight line. Daedalus isan inventor. Heconjures statues that seem alive, militaryrobots to guard Crete,and ancientgeneticengineeringenablingthe birth of the Minotaur—for whom he builds thelabyrinth,and from which viaanotherapparatus heescapes. Daedalus theinventor is said to haveconceived of sails made of canvas,glue,and joined corners. Now imagine Daedalusasa photographer/painter who has tired of the routines of image production,

...the predictable use of light to fix the ‘subject’ or whatever other objects were before him. Imagine that (this photographer/painter) was crazy enough to want to fix the light as light. If so, this would not be the light from distant stars, but a light without stars, without source no matter how distant or hidden, a light inaccessible to the camera. Should the photographer abandon his technique and find another? Or should he generalize his technique across the forms of the darkroom, the white cube,andthe cameraobscurainorder toproliferate theangles, the frames, theperspectives, the openings andshuttersusedtocapture(orperhaps toseduce)the light itself? (Francois Laruelle, The Conceptof Non-Photography).

In Scott Lyall’s collection of Black Glass works, ink-infused glueis injected between two identical panes of ‘museum glass’ to stain and enclosetheinterior. Then,athicklayer of inkisapplied to the back, to render thefront of theglass surfacea black mirror. Finally,alayer of pale, sheer color is printed onto the outward facingsurface of the mirror. This has the value ofathin, textured veil. The mirror’s reflectanceis canceled bythisveil, whilethecolor is overwhelmed and absorbed bythe darkness. The‘image’ is thus reduced to agrain-liketexture. Thelatter can becompared to both the halides in a photograph and theglazinglayers used in atraditional oil painting. Light haunts this image, but no refractions or shadows can beseen.

The pixel isgiven to a process that depends on its material, rather than representational,value: some light passes through theveil of ink becauseits sheernessactsasa partial filter. Thelight that ‘makes it through’ is then reflected in the mirror and returned in the direction of thesurface of theglass. But onlysome reflection passes outward through thesurface. The same outer surfacethat functioned asafilteragain filters thereflectanceas it returns to the world. This isareal, material capture ofenergy,and notapicturization of color-and-lighteffects. A decomposingremainder ofelectron particles bounces backand forth between the panes ofglass, in perpetuity.

Because of its captureand canceling of light, the diagrammaticarrangement of these Black Glass works seems to bringto mind an entirely unexpected entity. Neverat restand relentless, thisentityis related to atechnicaleconomy of images based on constant navigation and processingspeed. The work must literallykeep on working(filtering, refracting, trapping,and absorbingthelight) to maintain its negentropic hold.

The color that eclipses both photography and painting has emerged from the adventure of a different kind of night: a night without days, a real depth of concealment. It’s a night that is enfolded in compression and collapse. And it attracts light— captures it, consumes it, seduces it—as if the light were luredtowardits surfaces likea moth. The colors we call ‘pixels’are just as eternal. Theyarenot thedifferent colorsof theperishablebody. They come whentheyare called,andneitherdienor survive (Lyall, citing A.N. Whitehead, in a note).

Thesuspended particleenergyin theinterior of the Glassmeetsa perceptual situation whosecontent relies on a question of methodological proof—weareliterallycalled into perception viathecanceled mirror. Our image’s redaction has appeared asa prerequisite of the particleturmoil that continues in the Glass;and it is only because of theveil’s cancellation of the mirror that weseethis space of turmoilas potentialand nothingelse. If,as Bruno Latour suggests, our currenterais characterized bytheabolition of the material support of theimage, then Black Glass functions paradoxically to materializethisestrangement byrenderingthecondition of digital transferencesensible,and moreimportantly, in constant process. Our new habit ofnavigating backand forth through datascapes without stoppingateitherend point (neither origin nor terminus) iseffectively‘mirrored’ in the depthless Black Glass, notas image butas darkness ... oddly sensuouslyrevealed.

In addition to aslide projection piece by Christine Davis, the Black Glass isaccompanied byaset of images that ‘reflect on’ its shiftingand developingthemes. Amongthesearethreesmall nanofoiletchings which capture probeimages of redshift light—ghosts from theedges of ourexpanding universethat testifyto a heaven justabout to disappear.

Scott Lyall was born in Toronto in 1964, and currently lives and works in Torontoand New York. He earned his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1993. His solo and two-person exhibitions include Totality (Phantom Eclipse)at Susan Hobbs, Toronto, οἴνοπα πόντον [Winedark Sea] at Campoli Presti, London (2014), Indiscretion at Miguel Abreu Gallery (2013), The Color Ballat The Power Plant in Toronto (2008), An Immigrant Affection at Miguel Abreu Gallery (2010), the little contemporaries at Sculpture Center (2007), among others. In 2012, he participated in Anti-Establishment, curated by Johanna Burton,at the CCS Bard Hessel Museum. Previously Lyall’s work was included ingroup shows internationallysuch as Schnitte im Raum, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2011); Tentation d’Hazard, The Montreal Biennial (2011); New York to London and Back: The Medium of Contingency, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2011); Collatéral, Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers (2009); The Lining of Forgetting, curated by Xandra Eden, Austin Museum of Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum; and SITE Santa Fe, 7th International Biennial(2008)

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