Luke Murphy

Luke Murphy (b. 1963, Boston, MA) constructs digital paintings and sculptures using commercial LED light panels, suggesting both the ubiquity and the surprising vulnerability of our digital world. 

Liberating individual LED panels from the rigid parameters of the flat screen, Murphy reimagines them as ostensibly free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures yet the geometrically abstract code that flows over these fragmented screens evokes systems-based, conceptual, and even intuitive approaches to art, so much so that Murphy calls some his works “sculptures of paintings.”

Murphy, who worked as a coder for many years, is interested in forcing these commercial digital systems to evoke shared human responses such as the comfort of standing around a campfire or the awe of watching a conflagration burn. He explains: “In my early practice, I tried at times to graph the ineffable and unmeasurable (home, pain, suffering, love, happiness etc.) because I like to wade around in the tension between the authority of systems built by humans and their impossible indisputably human content.” In his LED sculptures, Murphy takes this impulse further, mapping and wrapping code around everyday materials, mining the stress that connects technological systems built for ideal user experience for the cracks and glitches in our digital utopia. 

His illuminated moving sculptures can resemble or even incorporate defunct signage, collapsed grids, creaky ladders, or steel studs that glitter and blink, compelling the viewer to watch the code flow across the broken surfaces in endlessly pleasing random patterns, which at the same time, deflect attention away from the broken and sometimes sad systems that support them.

Artist: Studio

"The work has a certain randomness and a certain structure at the same time. You sort of wait for the next thing to happen. It's chaotic. I like that kind of mixed with technology."

Artworks

Luke Murphy,

Rising Glitch,

2024,

65 ½ × 12 × 12 in (166.37 × 30.48 × 30.48 cm)

P3mm LED matrix panels, wood, steel, aluminum, paint, video driver hardware, software, power supplies, PC, code

 

Luke Murphy,

Corner fire against a post,

2024,

Acrylic on canvas,

39 ½ × 33 × 29 in (100.33 × 83.82 × 73.66 cm)

 

Luke Murphy,

Glories Tower,

2023,

74 ½ × 9 × 8 in (189.23 × 22.86 × 20.32 cm)

LED matrix panels, wood, metal studs, armature, video driver hardware, software, power supplies, PC, code

 

Luke Murphy,

Reading the News,

2023,

30 × 25 × 2 in (76.2 × 63.5 × 5.08 cm)

Wire armature, LED matrix panels, video driver hardware, software, power supplies, PC, code

Luke Murphy,

Corner Beams,

2022,

96 × 54 × 48 in (243.84 × 137.16 × 121.92 cm)

Luke Murphy,

Industrial Incandescent,

2022,

92 × 57 × 20 in (233.68 × 144.78 × 50.80 cm)

Wood beams, LED matrix panels, video driver hardware, software, power supplies, PC, code

Luke Murphy,

Fire Pile (Algorithmic Fire),

2018,

29 × 45 × 45 in (73.66 × 114.30 × 114.30 cm)

LED matrix panels, software and display hardware

Luke Murphy,

Kindling,

2018,

32 × 24 × 24 in (81.28 × 60.96 × 60.96 cm)

LED matrix panels, software and display hardware

Luke Murphy,

You Win!!!,

2016,

20 × 20 in (50.80 × 50.80 cm)

LED matrix panels, Rasberry Pi microcontroller, software

Luke Murphy,

Emojies4EverXoX,

2016,

5 × 20 in (12.70 × 50.80 cm)

LED matrix panels, Rasberry Pi microcontroller, software

Luke Murphy,

What Color,

2016,

25 × 20 in (63.50 × 50.80 cm)

LED matrix panels, Rasberry Pi microcontroller, software

Installation Views

Installation view, Industrial Incandescent, CANADA, New York, 2022

Exhibitions

Luke Murphy, Promised Light, Mar 5 – Apr 13, 2024
Luke Murphy, Industrial Incandescent, Sep 8 – Oct 22, 2022
Luke Murphy, Every Pixel Bright, Jun 1 – Jul 21, 2018
Luke Murphy, Unhappy Users, Feb 20 – Mar 20, 2016
Luke Murphy, Certainty Shelter, Apr 2 – May 3, 2009
Luke Murphy, Everything Made Pretty, Again, Dec 9 – Jan 22, 2006
Aaron Brewer and Luke Murphy, New Jewish Sculpture/Shape of the Occult, Sep 19 – Sep 19, 2002

Press

"Luke Murphy debuts solo exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art." Scottsdale Independent November 17, 2021

Natalie Gempel "Dallas Medianale Returns to The MAC on Saturday." D Magazine April 17, 2019

Martha Schwendener "What to See at New York Galleries." The New York Times July 11, 2018

"Luke Murphy...Canada Zona, Mexico." Art Lovers New York February 12, 2017

"Six Top Picks." Art Lovers New York March 2, 2016

Tula Plumi "Luke Murphy at Canada / New York." Daily Lazy March 1, 2016

Juliana Halpert "Critic's Pick: Luke Murphy, "Unhappy Users"." Artforum February 26, 2016

Holland Cotter "Luke Murphy: Certainly Shelter." The New York Times May 1, 2009

Noah Chasin "Xylor Jane, Robin Peck, Luke Murphy." Time Out New York October 30, 2005

"Luke Murphy: Art as Downshifting." The Globe and Mail May 13, 2000

Blake Gopnik "Outta Site." The Globe and Mail May 13, 2000

CV

b. 1963, Boston, MA

Lives and works in New York, NY

  • Education

    • 1991

      MFA, State University of New York at Purchase, NY

    • 1988

      BFA, Nova Scotia College of Art And Design, Canada

    • 1985

      BS, University of Toronto, Canada

  • Selected Solo Exhibitions

    • 2024

      Promised Light, CANADA, New York, NY

    • 2022

      Industrial Incandescent, Canada, New York, NY

    • 2021

      Pixel-by-Pixel: Interventions by Luke Murphy, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ

    • 2019

      In My House, Parisian Laundry, Montreal, Canada

      Domestic Appliances, Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, IL

    • 2018

      Every Pixel Bright, Canada, New York, NY

    • 2016

      Unhappy Users, Canada, New York, NY