Yann Novak (b.1979) is an interdisciplinary artist and composer based in Los Angeles. His work is guided by his unique perspective as a queer autodidact. Informed by his partial color blindness and dyslexia, Novak uses sound and light to explore how these intangible materials can act as catalysts to focus our awareness on our own direct experience. Novak’s diverse body of work—audiovisual installations, performances, architectural interventions, sound diffusions, recording, and prints—invites participants to imagine how divergent our individual perceptions of reality can be.
His work has been experienced through exhibitions at Dimensions Variable, Miami (2020); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2017); The Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, California (2016); The Broad, Los Angeles (2015); Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles (2014); Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (2011); The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2009); SFMoMA, San Francisco (2009); and Soundfjord, London (2010); among others. Novak has performed at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha (2021); PICA, Portland (2019); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2019); Desert Daze, California (2018); Fylkingen, Stockholm (2018); Iklectik, London (2018); de Young Museum, San Francisco (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Vincent Price Art Museum, Monterey Park (2014); The Stone, New York (2011); LACMA, Los Angeles (2010); and Mutek Festival, Montreal (2007); among others. His compositions have been released by Room40, Touch, LINE, 901 Editions, and Dragon’s Eye Recordings, among others.
Novak’s recent honors include the designation of Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (2021-2022), and the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2019). He has participated in numerous artists residencies including Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio, Melbourne (2019); EMS Elektronmusikstudion, Stockholm (2018); Mountain School of Arts, Los Angeles (2015); Taliesin Artist Residency, Spring Green, Wisconsin (2014); Touch Mentorship Programme, London (2014); Jental Artist Residency, Sharidan, Wyoming (2010), among others. Novak’s work has been the subject of articles and reviews in publications including C Magazine, Drain Magazine, Inside Art, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Neural Magazine, Signal to Noise, The Stranger, and The Wire, among others.
As an artist, I am informed by my unique perspective as partially color-blind and dyslexic. In my work, I explore notions of perception, context, and diversity through the construction of immersive spaces that seek to heighten the audience’s awareness of their own direct experience. Rooted in the “objectless” nature of intangible materials—sound and light—my work often takes on an intermediate character, offering enough information to transform space while underscoring an audience’s awareness of their individual perceptions. By privileging their unique perspectives, I intend to resist normative tendencies that universalize experiences and erase difference.
My work draws on a wide range of sources, including raw and altered field recordings, analog and digital sound synthesis, manipulated artificial and natural light, and projection to produce slowly evolving and interrelated sonic and visual fields. The distinct historical lineages of experimental electronic music and Light and Space are thus conjoined in service of a critical engagement with modernism, wherein its culturally unipolar and utopian tendencies are rejected in favor of its emphasis on the necessarily contingent and specular nature of works of art. Through careful consideration, my works not only address sight and hearing, but simultaneously expose the methodologies of looking and listening themselves. Taking the form of audiovisual installations, performances, architectural interventions, sound diffusions, recording, and prints,my work invites participants to imagine how divergent our individual perceptions of reality can be.