Scott Myles works in sculpture, printmaking, drawing, text, photography, painting and performance. If there is a signature to his work it isn’t to be found in a single aesthetic or ‘look’, or in the use of a particular material, but in the ideas and concepts that underpin all his projects.
Three themes often inform Myles’s approach. The first is an interest in gift-exchange as a way that objects can create relationships and as a process in which the meaning of objects can change. In Learn The Language (2003) he added his own statement to the blank side of a free poster created by the influential artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Here the object is transformed from a free gift into a reply or gesture that reciprocates that gift.
Secondly, Myles’s art often explores the theme of commerce and work. An important early piece Untitled (Smoking) (2001) involved Myles employing a smoker to take cigarette breaks throughout a single day in Glasgow’s business district. This paid smoker blended with the ‘real’ workers taking ‘real’ breaks. The usual relationship between work and escape from work was reversed.
Finally, Myles is particularly drawn to the structures that make up our everyday environment. He has used window frames, doors, office furniture, stationery, shelves and shop signs in his work, often transforming these materials to emphasise how they suggest different economic, social or psychological relationships. In Analysis (Mirror) (2012), he took two bus shelters as readymade sculptures. He inverted one atop the other and had both coated in silver so that they reflect themselves, the viewer, and the room where they are displayed. The work’s title suggests an analysis of an ordinary structure (the bus shelter), the self-analysis that might be occasioned by looking in the mirror, and the complex ideas of psychoanalysis. Habitat (2013) is a life-size, electroformed copper cast of a Habitat sign left behind after the company closed its Glasgow store in 2011. The work reproduces the scuffed logo including the film of black plastic that covered it after the closure. This might be a sign of mourning, of personal or economic loss. Whatever shape Myles’s works take, they ask us to think about how personal and social meanings are layered in objects, images and gestures.