Adhoc Interviews

Objects As Events & Events As Images & Images As Objects: Derek Paul Boyle

Derek Paul Boyle is a visual artist based in Los Angeles. Boyle received his undergraduate degree at Emerson College and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Boyle’s work presents juxtapositions and gestures informed by his interest in constructing “characters of things.” His large scale images capture the anxiety of how objects have come to both reflect and define our experiences. I sat down with Derek and we discussed his work, his interest in art, and what inspires his practice.

cake in socks 2015
unwound rewound tape 2015

Tell me a little bit about how you initially became interested in photography and art.

I’ve been making work with a sense that objects are events. Things become reflections of our actions in the world. Photography is my way of capturing objects in their prime, when the whole becomes something more than the sum of its parts. Many of my works are made in public and come to be altered by time, so the printed images accompany the physical objects as they get tossed around here and there… that’s the long way of saying I’m an obsessive collector of objects that I photograph as I try to make them into something more than what they were.

nail nailing nail

How do you decide if something is worthy of being captured or documented?

I look at the objects I’ve put together and I ask myself if I’ve had an experience that looks and feels like that – metaphorically or not – and if everything seems right I photograph it.

How did the recent group exhibition in Los Angeles, Plainly to Propound, come about?

I had a studio visit with the director and owner. My work fit into the proposed concept of exploring different ways to make abstractions, and I was invited to have some paintings and a video in the show.

For your drag painting series that you had in Plainly to Propound, how did you feel about working outside of your normal medium?

Really, I don’t think about what medium I’m using. At the time I was interested in creating documents of the tension I felt riding my used Vespa around LA… having just moved here about a year before that show. I ended up dragging some canvases by foot from my Vespa and they became objects imbued with the anxiety and effort it took to make them. I also had a video in the show in which I went around and composed bits of trash that were scattered around Hollywood. Video was just the best way to get at that thought.

drag painting (Temple Street) 2015
drag painting (Melrose Avenue) 2015

What artists, movements or experiences have made the greatest impact on you as an artist?

Filmmakers are a main source of inspiration. I’m into movies. TV too. Having worked as a set designer both in and out of film school, I went into grad school with that perspective – which has no doubt shaped the way in which I’m making these objects and images.

Aside from that, Bas Jan Ader changed my mind about lots of things and Yves Klein makes me smile. Richard Tuttle relaxes me. I’m inspired by the work of my friends here in LA.

How important is the absurdist philosophy undercurrent in your work?

I saw Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead when I was six and it threw me off a cliff and I’ve been falling ever since. I have serious vertigo, literally.

Would you say your work also stems from notions of existentialism and maybe even inspired from a comedic nihilistic point of view?

I’m definitely not coming from a nihilistic point of view. I’ve had periods of obsession with Schopenhauer and Sartre specifically – I did a year in college studying philosophy before transferring to film school – so I’ve definitely been affected by notions of existentialism. Right now I feel a need to make this type of work. And the struggle to make meaning creates a tension that I find energizing and absurd.

melted fork spooning spoon 2015
tied together property signs 2015
pictures_of_paper_bag_being_torn_with_torn_paper bag
pictures of paper bag being torn with torn paper bag

What are your biggest challenges working as an artist?

I’m making large aluminum dye sublimation prints now, and the process is very involved and expensive. The logistics of turning an image into an object can be challenging.
That and going to sleep. Sleep is important and I stay up too late most nights.

Burrowing through the Internet, I discovered that you are a supporter of Rhizome. Tell me a little bit about your views on new media art and Internet based art.

I stay engaged with art made for and with the Net, but my work isn’t about being online, it’s just put online. I’ve always been obsessed with documentation, so I have a website that’s gone through many iterations. It’s constantly updated – as soon as I finish a work I post it on my site. Then I’ll do one dye sub print for each work. I like putting ideas out there but not expecting an immediate, direct response. The Net is a useful studio.

shovel head covered in scrapped promotions 2015

What are you currently working on?

I’m about to go to the LA river and find a bunch of broken-off dead branches and cover them in concrete.

See more work by Derek Paul Boyle and view upcoming shows / exhibitions @

Last modified: July 26, 2015