In Mark Lyken’s headspace: creating art evocative of something galactic, whilst exploring relationships between people and places and the influence of sound and visuals.
When I first discovered audio and visual artist Mark Lyken it was purely coincidental. One particularly rainy afternoon, I found myself in a London Wagamama in search of shelter and hoping to find some kind of caffeinated drink. Struggling to get my oversized umbrella under control in a room packed with people who had had the same genius idea, I spotted Lyken’s name on the Wagamama ‘art and eat’campaign poster. Lyken’s graffuturistic art, which captures the essence of the connection between visual and musical manifestation, stood out to me as an explosion of kaleidoscopic dynamics.
When the 2007 recession hit, DIY art forms such as street art and self-produced music boomed, paving the way for Lyken’s unique mode of expression. Fuelled by heartbreak and a failed business Lyken moved to Glasgow. Switching from urban graffiti to more abstract, gallery based art he found his calling in sonic art forms. The buoyant quality of his work attracted up-and-coming, Glasgow-based Recoat Gallery, which was later instrumental in launching Lyken as an artist.
Lyken’s art, initially a recreation of bacteria and other internal life forms, resembles vibrant outer space constellations. Musically, Lyken is drawn by the melodic, monophonic effect of drone tunes. For the artist, there is no real line between the two art forms, no definitive segregation. It is hard to say which is which, as one becomes the response to the other. To Lyken, the combination of music and art is prolific as long as it is not overanalysed. He is adamant never to impose an interpretive meaning on his art; it simply “is what it is”.
Lyken has matured into more than a musical street artist, a fact which was cemented when he joined internationally renowned art house, Cryptic, earlier this year. The Terrestrial Sea, commissioned by Cryptic, will make its debut at Multiplicidade Festival in Brazil between 29 and 30 November. His award-winning film, Mirror Lands, a collaboration with filmmaker Emma Dove and Aberdeen University Ecologists, is further proof of artistic evolution. The film muses peoples’ feeling of home, using a synthesis of images and sonic elements to challenge preconceived ideas about life on the Scottish Highland Black Isle. The outcome is an exploration of the complex interactions between nature, industry and culture.
In spite of the diversity of Lyken’s work, themes of mutation, metamorphosis and renewal make up constant, recognisable components of a portfolio, which includes musical and sound pieces, film, paintings and installations. Lyken is an artist who pinpoints contrasts everywhere and whose work, full of contradiction as it is, offers something for everyone. So take the opportunity, next time you are caught in the rain; experience art in a new way – experience Mark Lyken.