James Byrne

In the 1970s, James Byrne developed a distinctive, body-based method of image making, in which he used the hand-held portable camera as a gestural extension of the body in a physical exchange with his subject. Byrne explored this aesthetic primarily in innovative video dance collaborations that were choreographed and performed specifically for video. Intense physicality, performance, and the human figure are central to these works.

Byrne's early, performance-based tapes investigated the formal and conceptual parameters of the video medium, a phenomenological inquiry into the artist/viewer relationship, perception, and the artist's identity. One Way (1979) is a droll exercise that explores physical gesture and point-of-view in relation to the portable video camera.

Byrne later produced multi-monitor installations that refer both to urban architecture and the sensuality of natural landscape, elements that recur throughout his work. He then focused on an inventive fusion of dance, performance art and video, in which the physicality of his gestural camera work (camera and dancer often move as one) is used to "sculpt" the dance within video space.

Byrne was born in 1950. He received his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and studied in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. The recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts, among other organizations, Byrne is an associate professor of media arts at Jersey City State College, and is the director of Byrne Studios. His work has been exhibited at festivals and institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; P.S. 1, New York; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Dance Theater Workshop, New York; Montreal International Festival du Nouveau Cinema et de la Video; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Byrne lives in St. Paul, MN and teaches filmmaking and screenwriting at Metropolitan State (MN). His recent work "Mist On the River" premiered in 2016 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. His work was also part of the exhibit "Scale Drawing" at Walker Art Center in 2017.