You can get a crash course in Nick Hornby’s work during an hour-long London walk. The artist has three permanent sculptures installed throughout the city, metallic silhouettes that start out familiar but change depending on your location. At St James’s, his triumphal cavalcade, modeled after Richard I, becomes a spontaneous squiggle as you circle. While at Kensington, he had an encounter with Casper David Frederick. The wanderer The abstract changes and a statue of Nefertiti doubles as the Albert Memorial.

Raising questions about power and the role of the monument, the trio is a clever combination of craft and imagination. They are also feats of digital innovation. Horse riding, for example, began as a digital model scripted in Python. It was then stripped down to individual components to be laser cut from the metal, then assembled by fabricators. “It was a beautiful, seamless relationship between the concept, the digital process, and the mechanical fabrications,” says Hornby from his studio in northwest London. “165 pieces were assembled into a six-and-a-half-ton thing.” “But when people see it, they don’t see it at all.”

“I like to think that one of the defining characteristics of my work is that it captures anyone’s imagination, not limited to the art world. Trying to solve complex ideas in plain English. Anyone would recognize the tripe of the man on the horse and have a reaction to how I used it.

White abstract sculpture with images of human body covered on white pedestal in white room

rest leaf (barley) is from a set of biographical works created using hydrographics—each resin sculpture is dipped into a wet medium that transfers the image.

Photo: Benjamin Westoby

This kind of technical conceptual wizardry is Hornby’s calling card. Favoring the screen over the sketchpad, he uses 3D modeling as the basis for abstract sculptures that reference the art historical canon and challenge notions of authorship. Profile of Michelangelo David Drawn to a point, readable only from the top.

He began as a teenager, producing life-size terracotta figures at school while his classmates toiled at simple pottery. “But then I went to art school, and it was like, I didn’t want to do Rodin’s pastiche. I wanted to be part of the future. I wanted to be innovative,” he says. “So I jumped on the technology.”

At the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where he enrolled in the late 1990s, Hornby developed a new style. They were storming in the video. A semester at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he joined the artist hacker collective Radical Software/Critical Artwork. and musical experiments with MAX MSP, an object-oriented programming language used by Radiohead in the early 2000s. But it was only after completing his Masters in the thirties that his career took its current form.

“I’ve actually made pretty fundamental changes in my relationship with tech,” he says. “I was quite disappointed with people saying, ‘Wow, that’s really cool. How did you do that?’ Because I find that question really boring. I’m much more interested in the question, ‘What does it mean?'” Therefore, in the last decade Hornby has eliminated “any form of human subjectivity,” they say. Wires and screens were blurred, rough edges erased with laser precision. Better to invite questions of substance rather than action.