Speculations within Space
On the works of Max Frey
Max Frey’s artistic language is based on an analysis of kinetics and light, and examines the interaction between our capacity to imagine three-dimensional spaces and the dynamics of his objects in that space. Defying the static aesthetics of ordinary exhibition settings, Frey’s works aim to create an electric atmosphere, which evokes a feeling of suspense in the viewers. As is the case with the main installation of the current exhibition at the Krobath gallery, entitled Kleine große Klappe (Little Big Trap). In German, “große Klappe” means both a large trap and a big mouth. This wordplay thus suggests an irascible demeanour and, in a literal sense, the format of the installation: it consists of an oversized trap, or rather plate, which can be hauled up by a rope winch and secured onto the wall with an electromagnet. Using a control device, the plate can be loosened so that it falls down onto the gallery floor, creating a pressure wave that spreads throughout the whole room. The process is interactive and can be initiated by the viewers, who must first bring themselves to operate the control device and then to release the plate, causing it to crash onto the floor. This intervention transforms the entire room into a protagonist of the installation, which is dependent on various individual parameters. Movement, sound and physical experience are the results of this artistic process, stretching over a space-time continuum. The sensations of fear, discomfort and irritation evoked in the viewers complete the overall experience of this space-filling work of art, which is adapted to the individual dimensions of each exhibition setting.
Another significant feature of Frey’s work is the examination of light and its mechanisms of movement. Frey, who studied under Brigitte Kowanz, aims to build a connection between motor-controlled light modules in his numerous installations, enabling light to intrude into a time-space continuum as a permanently changing physical phenomenon, thus creating constantly changing formations, patterns and motion sequences. These “lamps” or “light pillars” may appear to be conventional light fixtures, but their lamps are motor-driven, highly sensitive and controlled by the artist in a way that creates new spherical dimensions and light formations: For instance Frey’s work Overlapping Light Room where numerous beams and modules of light interact with each other. The central features here are colour spectra, which are correlated to each other to create a simulacrum, an interaction of light spaces. In Große kleine Klappe, it is the sound effect, which dominates the space. Here, it is the visual parameters, which keep the notion of a three-dimensional space in motion and simulate optical impressions. The viewers perceive various figurative patterns, which may evoke psychedelic effects and hallucinations.
A key factor in Frey’s art is the immediate, on-site experience, which involves all sensory organs and has a multidimensional character. In his objects and installations, Frey pointedly explores the possibility of changing space through light and motion, so that the exhibition room or environment fades into the background and the works no longer need the “white cube” aesthetics in order to be appreciated. When contemplating the works, the focus is on perception as a time-based element in order to understand the visual as a changing medium.
(English translation: Mandana Taban)