Essay from Exhibit Catalog

by Miranda McClintic



CIyde Lynds' sculptures are made of materials most characteristic of our age, concrete and aluminum; and are empowered by means of one of the most sophisticated technologies of the late twentieth century.

Yet, these sculptures are experienced as solid monoliths, whose concrete surfaces have the ageless character of stone.

Lynds uses aggregates that range from granite-smoothness to pebbly in texture, and vary in earthtones of grey, red and beige. He casts the overall concrete form in a mold, embedding throughout the sculpture thousands of carefully placed optical fibers that will ultimately transmit light up to its surface. After the form is taken out of the mold, the surface is sandblasted, ground down, and then carved by hand, sometimes with discrete shapes and at other times with geometric patterns.

The dynamic surfaces are meticulously crafted with a mechanically programmed light source within the base of the sculpture. Light shines through two superimposed transparent wheels (whose complex color arrangements are calculated in conjunction with the optical fibers that link them to the sculpture’s surface), as the wheels rotate at different speeds. Viewers see images being created right before their eyes — out of nothing visually apparent — on the sculpture's relief surface, in a process of continuous metamorphosis that recycles at intervals ranging from once every two days to once every two weeks, depending on the sculpture.

Ancient scripts are translated here by means of surrealist spirit and fiber optic technology. Discrete shapes, linear gestures and patterns conform and fade, choreographed into changing configurations on the sculpture's surface. Like an invisible hand writing on a wall, images and individual pinpoints of light slowly appear and slowly disappear, evolving and dissolving at different rates in various areas.

The viewer's attention is directed across every centimeter of the surface by the moving light, encouraging appreciation of the multiple relationships that develop among the pictorial and sculptural elements of the work. More exceptionally, by the timing of its changes, Lynds' sculpture controls the viewer's response kinesthetically.

Clyde Lynds came to this sculpture as an artist, not as a scientist, and his work is as deeply rooted in painting and sculpture as anyone working with more conventional means . His interest in light follows pictorial traditions that begin with impressionism and extend through the Bauhaus into Neo Geo. He thinks as a painter, and one sees painterly imagination and structuring in the harmonious color compositions, moving gestures and dynamic patterns that make countless "pictures" on the surface of the sculpture.


Lynds' sculptural ancestors include Brancusi, Giacometti and Joseph Cornell. The organic reductiveness of Brancusi's work, the vulnerability of Giacometti's and the enchantment of Cornell's work contribute to the concentrated intensity of these stelae.

Thomas Wilfred's pioneering investigations of movement and color, as well as the kinetic art movement of the late sixties helped to determine the specific direction of Lynds' art.

Working with the materials of technology since the early seventies has given him both his impressive mastery of the electronic components with which he works, and his attitude that they are means to an end, very much seen but not heard.This unobtrusive state-of-the-art technology separates Lynds' sculpture from the more nostalgic work of other artists who explore the contemporary potential of ancient forms and symbols, while heightening in space-age terms the sense of mystery and ritual that generally characterizes such work.

The ancient monoliths of the world are of greatest importance to the character of Lynds' most recent work. He draws inspiration from the monumental forms and hieroglyphic symbols of Mayan, Nordic, Indo Syrian, Egyptian and Assyrian cultures, but his art is not one of specific reference. He extracts the intangible formal and expressive essences from his sources, creating an art of universal significance.

Using archetypal forms (obelisk, classical torso, and kimono) and images (spirals, birds, flames, comets, constellations and cascades), his art gains resonance from associations with other cultures. Rich in allusion, these works are both mysterious and immediately engaging.

The serenity and the magic of this work can only he directly experienced. Changing gradually and unpredictably with every moment, these sculptures paradoxically depend on the passage of time for their rneaning, and achieve timelessness by links to the past, present and future. The technological processes and materials that inform this work distinguish these stelae from other manifestations of post modern historicism by giving it an active orientation to the present time, and the suggestion of on-going duration into the future.

CIyde Lynds believes that the only way to create new experiences with art is to use new materials; and he convincingly proves this faith in each of the works in the present exhibition. Lynds has produced a body of truly unique sculpture that incorporates profound expressions of our cultural heritage, with an exciting contemporary technology, and an affirmative message for the future.