GRADIENT RED ACE GALLERY
EXHIBITION EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 30 2012
Currently on view at Ace Gallery Beverly Hills is a new LED installation by Austrian artist Erwin Redl. Redl’s work was brought to wider visibility in the United States with Matrix VI; the cloaking of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York for the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and in Los Angeles, Redl’s Matrix II, was included in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2005 exhibition Ecstasy: In and About Altered States. His first solo exhibition in Los Angeles was in 2007 at Ace Gallery Beverly Hills.
While departing from the virtual space of our contemporary digital and computer environments, Redl’s use of LEDs and their placement in often large-scale architectural environments has led to comparisons with the Light and Space artists of the 60’s and 70’s. As with renowned artists such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin, the viewer’s physical presence is an integral part of Redl’s installations. Often disorientating and vast with only points of light as reference, he provides an immersive experience within these digital spaces for the viewer without the mediation of a screen or camera lens. Each light installation creates its own architectural space, within which, one’s senses are confronted directly as the viewer moves, in turn becoming a part of the space, and as the artist described: “Only corporeal motion and the subsequent discovery of all aspects of the space (visual, corporeal, acoustic, social, etc.) slowly reveal the nature of the piece. Those aspects are highly subjective, based on private, individual memories of the viewer, yet they are experienced in a communal setting which leads to often very surprising interactions between strangers during exhibitions.”
Redl began his current light installation work in 1997 after an exhibition of Fred Sandback at Dia in New York; Sandback’s work with yarn in space left Redl with the feeling of each molecule of the space being charged. Redl then began to use his strings of LEDs in which he suggests his own planes and volumes which evolve with time through the presence of the mobile viewer. An earlier work, Matrix XVI, was a floating grid of vertical, glowing, blue rods expanded in depth and height to fill the darkened space of the main upstairs gallery at Ace. As one walked through the piece, planes formed and dissolved and reformed, revealing horizontal and diagonal pathways, which, when entered seemed to offer infinite possible paths through the space. It is a visual sequence that we are familiar with in renderings of movement through virtual space, but an experience that has an entirely different quality when navigated corporeally.
The LEDs in these works emit a single wavelength of light from a single point. These qualities are employed by Redl to link sound with visual elements and to translate electronic images into physical space. In his theory of “parallel media” Redl corresponds sound-frequencies to color-frequencies and uses these structural parameters in the development of his installations incorporating light and sound. As points of light, the LEDs ressemble pixels on a computer screen. Translating 3-D (wireframe) renderings (and the interface of the programs on which they are made) into physical space Redl refers to as a process of “reverse engineering”. He analyses the structure of a digital object or system then uses this information to recreate a physical form that functions in the same way.
A closer look at an early work, Walztanz 60, performed in a gothic church in Krems, Austria in 1989, is instructive for it reveals many of the concerns that continue to inform Redl’s current environmental pieces. At this time, Redl was studying composition and electronic music at the Music Academy in Vienna. He was influenced by minimalist music and the work of John Cage as well as the architect/composer Iannis Xenakis. This performance of a waltz in which the dancers moved according to instructions set out by Redl, taking 60 minutes to cross the length of the church accompanied by a piano playing cluster chords, a Renaissance recorder sextet playing slowly changing drones and intermittently a noise band providing a contemporary beat and electronic sounds. The church was lit with sparse, static spotlights, and one beam followed the dancers’ waltz. It is clear even in this early work that Redl approaches space through an understanding of duration: through the guided movement of bodies (now viewers) and their relationship with a predetermined pattern played out against the existing architecture.
Erwin Redl has produced permanent installations for a variety of institutions, including the University of Washington Seattle and the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, as well as exhibiting internationally. He completed MFA in Computer Art, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY in 1995. He was born in Austria and has lived and worked in New York since 1993. Redl’s large-scale 600’ dynamic site-specific installation ‘Fetch,’ 2010, was on view through end of February 2011 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, “turning the outdoor grid along the Wexner Center's east façade into a hypnotic beacon.”