Robert Boyd

Robert Boyd

Fellow: Awarded 2016
Field of Study: Film - Video

Competition: US & Canada

Robert Boyd is an interdisciplinary artist working in video installation, photography, and sculpture. His work explores the persistent impact that historic events and unexamined cultural prejudices from the past have on the present.

Having created object-based artwork for many years, he subsequently began composing filmic works that extend time-based imagery into architectural space. Moving beyond the boundaries of experimental cinema and documentary form, his installations forge a relationship between viewers, architecture, and moving image, using found imagery and sound to merge sociopolitical with formal and spatial considerations. This approach is exemplified in his video installation Xanadu (2006).

Culled from hundreds of hours of archival footage including that of doomsday cults, iconic political figures, and global fundamentalist movements, his synchronized 4-channel video installation, Xanadu, tweaks, condenses, and re-frames modern events into seconds-long image bites, representing a history of apocalyptic thought as a series of MTV-style music videos within a setting reminiscent of a discotheque. Described by New York Times art critic Holland Cotter as “a trailer for the Apocalypse,” Xanadu premiered to critical acclaim at Participant Inc., NYC, in 2006 and has subsequently been exhibited worldwide at venues such as PKM Gallery, Beijing (2006); PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2008); Hong Kong Museum of Art (2009); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2014); and Moderna Museet, Malmö (2015). In addition, Xanadu was an Official Selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Boyd then began working on Tomorrow People, an ongoing series of multi-channel video installations that explore the role that fantasy plays in human self-determination.

Integrating archival media that has been meticulously gathered and edited over the course of several years, the Tomorrow People installations reframe imagery and sound from popular culture to form a commentary on the social landscape of our time. The imagery is culled from science-fiction dramas, news reports on historic and contemporary political events, docudramas about UFOs, the paranormal and conspiracy theories, while the sound used spans classical, pop, techno and New Age–creating a context for the imagery that is both eerily familiar and disturbingly dissonant. Highlights from the series include the 2008 MoMA/PS1 premier of Conspiracy Theory, a two-channel video installation that addresses issues of social paranoia and civil distrust; the 2014 International Biennial of Photography & Visual Arts Liège premier of The Man Who Fell To Earth, a 3-channel video montage that charts the rise and fall of régimes and men; Autumn Changes, a 4-channel video installation that portrays the polemic over climate change; and TimeTravel_0, a web-based work that cinematically reinterprets Online posts culled from archived logs of Internet chat rooms shortly after the turn of the new millennium to present a textual narrative about a visitor from the future.

Robert Boyd has been awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Work (2015); a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship (2010); a NYFA Artists Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Work (2009); a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2006); and a NYFA Artists Fellowship in Photography (2004). His work is included in several public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création in Paris.

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