The XYZs of Post-Digital Gesture: Drawings & Prints by Mike Lyon
January 18 - April 16, 2017
Mike Lyon’s work is not digital art. Lyon is a pioneering figure in the emergent field of post-digital printmaking and graphics. [The first major study of the subject, Paul Cantanese’s and Angela Geary’s Post-Digital Printmaking: CNC, Traditional and Hybrid Techniques, was published in 2012 and devotes an entire chapter to Lyon.] Combining traditional art materials and techniques with automated machine tools and digital technology from the realm of industrial manufacturing, Lyon has developed innovative processes for making his images. Although the path along which his visual ideas travel from conception to realization is strikingly inventive, the materials and techniques he uses to realize their final form are centuries old. Lyon’s pictures are made with ink and paper, printed from wood blocks and copper plates, or drawn with a pen. They are not output from inkjet printers, displayed on monitors, or projected on screens. It is his use of digital processes in the service of creating images wrought by analogue means that defines Lyon’s work as post-digital.
Printmaking is, by nature, a hybrid activity. Printmakers have always adapted the latest technology to existing traditional studio practices. Lyon’s use of digital technology and robotic machinery is brilliant, masterful, but judicious. He is not seduced by the gee-whiz-bangness of the tools he employs, the uses of which are always subservient to his art. Lyon’s machines operate with his proxy. His instructions determine their every move along the X, Y, and Z axes and result in an expressive gesture distinctly his own.