David Byrne (b. 1952, Dumbarton, Scotland) was raised in Baltimore where he briefly attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) after transferring from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Byrne studied photography, performance, and video production at MICA until 1972, when he decided to pursue a career in music. Four years later in New York, Byrne co-founded the group Talking Heads, who introduced an innovative visual approach to their performances.
Byrne has been involved with photography and design since college and has been publishing and exhibiting his work for the past decade. Like his music, Byrne’s visual work has the capacity to elevate and transform ordinary elements into iconic ones and challenges our fundamental notions of what can be classified as art. His projects also focus on the relationship between our physical exteriors and emotional interiors.
In an effort to explore and activate the dynamic between private and public spheres, Byrne mounts many of his shows in untraditional exhibition spaces, frequently mixes text with images, and often incorporates audio components (i.e., portable Acoustiguides, stationary speakers) in order to holistically engage our environment. He has produced billboards in Toronto and Belfast (Better Living Through Chemistry, 1996, 1998), subway posters (Stairway to Heaven, 1999) and audio installations (Playing the Building, 2005) in Stockholm, and a 215-foot long flow chart covering the Fifth Avenue façade of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City (Everything is Connected, 2002). Since 1999 Byrne has traveled throughout the world giving presentations and lectures, including “Text and Image: Text as Image, Image as Text” (1999); “America: Cult and Culture” (2000); “The New Sins” (2001); “Evil Art and Good Advertising” (2002-present); and “I ? PowerPoint” (2003-present). Byrne’s most recent project “Playing the Building”, a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument, will open at the Battery Maritime Ferry Building in May 2008.
In 2004, Byrne won the Wired Award for Art for his project Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (EEEI) that used the presentation software PowerPoint as an art medium.
Byrne’s work belongs to numerous collections, including the Denver Art Museum and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C.
His book projects include True Stories (1986); Strange Ritual (1995); Your Action World (1998, 1999); The New Sins/Los Nuevos Pecados (2001); David Byrne Asks You: What Is It? (2002); Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (2003); and Arboretum (2006).
Byrne lives and works in New York City.