After the Mountains, More Mountains is a sculptural installation that consists of four large, rectangular aluminium frames with delicate silk fabrics such as chiffon, georgette and voile stretched onto them. These pale translucent screens are arranged in a free-standing configuration on the floor in the form of a cross, suggesting revolving doors. The fabrics, dyed white, pink, green and black, are stretched following the technique used for making silkscreens for printing. The frames were coloured and varnished through an industrial process known as powder-coating with hues corresponding to those of the fabrics. All four screens are of slightly different sizes. This is because when they were first shown, on the occasion of an exhibition entitled HUO I Want to Know Everything! at The Modern Institute in Glasgow in 2004, they were each installed in a window of the gallery. After the exhibition closed, the screens were taken down and bolted together at the centre to form the sculptural installation that is now T11901. The title of the work, which did not change after the end of the exhibition, alludes to ideas of progress and the difficulties inherent in it. As the artist notes, ‘one might make progress, solve a particular problem, only to find another problem standing in the way needing to be tackled’ (email to the author, 3 August 2010). Myles has explained that there is a formal relationship between this sculpture and his paired screenprints David Standing 4th May 2004 and David Sitting 4th May 2004 2004 (P79061). He has specified that the two works should always be exhibited together in a way that allows the viewer to make a visual connection between them (Scott Myles in conversation with Tate conservator Jodie Glen-Martin, 11 January 2005, Tate Gallery Records).
Screens feature frequently in the work of Myles, who seeks to explore the interaction between man and his environment through means of display and concealment. Within this framework, the artist’s initial installation of After the Mountains, More Mountains over the windows of The Modern Institute seemed to be an ambivalent comment on the changing landscape of the city of Glasgow, which was then undergoing an intense regeneration. The semi-transparent quality of the screens served both to conceal and frame the views of that process. With these screens, Myles also created a correspondence between the Victorian character of the building where the gallery was housed, and the city’s contemporary urban architecture, in particular the entrance of the SAS Radisson Hotel directly across the street from the gallery, thus raising questions relating to urban planning and socio-cultural change. As the artist notes, ‘It’s too grand a statement to say these sculptures relate to the superficial gentrification occurring in a city centre like Glasgow. They do however mimic the form and scale of these locales, and the city I experience in my daily life.’ (Quoted in Rob Tufnell, ‘Rob Tufnell in conversation with Scott Myles’, in Ruf 2007, p.54.) In their new configuration as a free-standing sculpture, the screens retain this ambivalence and play between display and concealment as, depending on which side the viewer approaches them from, they can be experienced as opaque or transparent. The windows of the gallery were used by Myles at a later date in a different way. For his solo exhibition ASKIT (2007) at The Modern Institute Myles replaced the windows with inward-facing mirrors. The resulting work, Mirror Room 2007 (The Modern Institute, reproduced http://www.themoderninstitute.com/exhibitions/1757/images#4129
) created a new space where the artworks were reflected and doubled, while the outside world was hidden from view, again suggesting an oscillation between visibility and concealment.
Although different in conception and execution, David Standing 4th May 2004 and David Sitting 4th May 2004 shares similar concerns with T11901. It consists of two individually framed screenprints derived from photographs, each featuring a man and a bus shelter in what appears to be night shots in an eerily quiet urban setting. In the first screenprint the man is standing on the bus shelter, while on the second one he is sitting on it. Like After the Mountains, More Mountains this work accentuates the interaction between the individual and his environment. Visibility and concealment can be said in this case to be indicated by the artist’s exploration of the passage from the public to the private domain, alluded to by the graffiti-marked bus shelter – where the personalised activity of making graffiti counters the object’s industrial production – the contrast of black and white colours and the play between light and shadow.
Myles’s work shares common ground with that of another Scottish artist from a slightly earlier generation, Martin Boyce (born 1967). In particular, Boyce’s works Our Love 2002 (T12132) and Gate (We don’t meet here. We are always together first) 2004 (T11905) possess a poetic urban aesthetic similar to that of Myles’s works. Although there is no human presence in Boyce’s sculptural installations, both artists isolate objects of the urban environment, which they render the silent protagonists of simultaneously nostalgic and haunting reverie-like scenes that can be said to oscillate between the public and the private, the intimate and the alienating. Myles’s work has also been linked to minimalist art, in particular the work of Donald Judd (1928–94), such as Untitled 1980 (T03087) and Untitled [no title]
1988 (P77499). However, Myles makes a clear departure from the impersonal character of the minimalist aesthetic with his more subjective and allusive approaches.
Presence: New Works of Contemporary Art from Scotland, exhibition catalogue, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2002, pp.40–5.
Katharine Stout, ‘Scott Myles’ in Beatrix Ruf and Clarrie Wallis (eds.), Tate Triennial 2006: New British Art, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2006, pp.104–7.
Beatrix Ruf (ed.), Scott Myles, solo exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Zürich 2007.