What does Nothing look like? Conrad Freiburg attempts to show us in his upcoming project at the Hyde Park Art Center, It Is What It Isn’t. Through this exhibition and Residency at the HPAC from October 2010-July 2011, Freiburg considers the possibilities of the Void through an interactive sculptural installation in the Art Center’s main gallery that will include a large-scale drawing machine, a hand-crafted telescope, musical instruments, and a “destruction station.” The artist invites the public to experience the so-called Void by literally creating and destroying things in the installation, as well as seeing and hearing them. The exhibition will utilize the Hyde Park Art Center’s architectural feature that allows the main gallery to remain open to the sidewalk and street, creating a truly accessible and expansive exhibition space.
This project is rooted in Freiburg’s contemplation of the idea that the most powerful force in the physical world, as well as the psychological, emotional, aesthetic and spiritual worlds is that which is not known or not understood, i.e., The Void. This idea surfaces in many disciplines and can be looked at through multiple angles. In astronomy the void is represented in the vast emptiness of outer space. Religious beliefs, such as Buddhism, experience the void as a mental space for absolute consciousness. Psychologists liken the void to the relationship one has to the Other. The concept of the void is always defined through it’s opposite condition - the Something and Nothing define each other. In the artists words, “It Is What It Isn’t explores the impossible VOID, the sublime unknown, the space into which we expand, the concrete absence we honor through song, carved stone memorials, night-time gazing at the vast emptiness of our heavenly rotunda, and the hand we can no longer hold.” Breaking down the notion of the void into the categories of absence, loss and the unknown, Freiburg welcomes the audience to think of the world not in material objects, but the opposite: having nothing and knowing nothing.
The exhibition will include three large-scale sculptures conceived and produced by the artist to address various aspects of the void. In the center of the 2,400 square foot gallery will be the 12-foot tall harmonograph, or drawing machine, that creates visual representations of musical chords (see exampleto the right). This sculpture is an impressive machine with two pendulums that swing in different directions and control the lateral movement of a pen and of a drawing surface respectively. Changing the pendulum height changes the harmonic interval, creating a unique geometric pattern that corresponds to a musical interval. This machine will be “played” and create drawings throughout the exhibition. The songs it draws will be taken from a pool of memorial music offered “In loving Memory” by the public during the residency period.
The second installation transforms the Art Center’s Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk Gallery into a viewing deck. Freiburg will create a hand-crafted telescope for the public to view a constellation of drawings made in succession by the harmonograph and placed high on the two-story gallery walls.
The third sculpture is the Self Contained Unit of Entropy (SCUE). The SCUE machine is a sculpture designed for participants to create, document, and destroy other sculptures. Freiburg will lead workshops at the Art Center in which people make sculptures that they will then get to destroy with the SCUE. A photographic archive of destruction will be available online during and after the exhibition’s run.
From October 2010 until June 2011 Conrad Freiburg will be an artist-in-residence in Studio 6 on the second floor at the Hyde Park Art Center. During this time, he will be fabricating work for It Is What It Isn’t and creating an audio archive he calls the Pod of Absence. To create the archive, Freiburg will invite musical interpretations of the Void by artists such as Jason Ajemian, Mississippi Gabe Carter, the Thin Man, Harold Mann, Andy Hall, and others. This process will culminate in a public album release with a date to be determined. Freiburg also invites the public to drop in the studio and talk to him about his ideas over the course of his ten-month residency.
About the artist:
Originally from rural downstate Illinois, Conrad Freiburg asserts that Nothing is in his bones. As a result, he is able to focus his artwork on the moment of constant discovery open to many different disciplines such as music, philosophy, astronomy, and engineering. His sculptures, drawings and installations often include the viewer to be physically interactive to complete the artistic experiment inherent to the work. Demolition and reconstruction are at the forefront of Freiburg’s investigations. His work has mostly been exhibited throughout Chicago since 1998. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute. He currently lives and works in Chicago, busks all over the country, and is represented by Linda Warren Gallery.