Merging social observation with satirical humor, Chip Lord's work focuses on American myths and icons, from the cult of the automobile to baseball, advertising, suburbia and television. To Lord, collective identity and everyday life are defined by the consumer-based, media-driven culture of the postwar American Dream. His recreations of the classic Americana of his youth are often nostalgic, but edged with an ironic detachment.
Motorist (1989) is a "road video" homage to the car culture of the 1950s and '60s; Easy Living (1984) is a miniaturized simulation of suburbia. Lord sardonically scrutinizes pop culture by adopting and subverting television strategies and formats — the commercial, the sit-com, the news bite. Often casting himself as a performer, he critiques the absurdities of contemporary politics and the military, and wryly observes the passivity of an American public conditioned by television.
Lord's involvement with video dates to the late 1960s; in 1968 he co-founded, with Doug Michels, the San Francisco-based multi-media collective Ant Farm. In a series of memorable performance art events, including Cadillac Ranch (1974), Media Burn (1975), and The Eternal Frame (1975, with T.R. Uthco), Ant Farm tore up the media landscape with works that critiqued America's media and political cultures through parody and spectacle.
Lord was born in 1944. He received a B. Arch. from Tulane University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and several Western States Regional Media Arts Fellowships. He is currently Professor in the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1973, Lord and Doug Michels received a Progressive Architecture design award for their work with Ant Farm. Lord's work has been widely exhibited throughout the world, at festivals and institutions including the Paris Biennale; Documenta 6, Kassel, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Toronto Film Festival; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; JVC Tokyo Video Festival; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; London Film Festival; Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibition, New York; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. He lives in San Francisco, California.