Afew weeks back, in preparation for the screening of a video work at AND NOW, my nine-year-old son
and I joined artist Brian Fridge and gallerist James Cope while they were troubleshooting the projection of one of his Vault Sequence videos in a gray void adjacent to the gallery.
While I had seen works from this series many times, I chiefly wanted to introduce my son to these curious passages, waiting for his response and subsequent questions.
I asked him what he saw: “sand falling down a hole, like time,” then he shifted his response again and paused with a “Hmmm…” The first image I remember
by the artist was a photograph of a reddish-orange spherical marker on a power line, a warning to the potential danger of proximity for those helicopters wishing to approach.
The artwork, Untitled, 1992/1993, approx. 16 x 20 inches, was presented in an antique, o
val, stained-wood frame complete with convex glass, with a pure blue sky cut in half
by the linear object from which it was designed to protect, as well as protect from.
It had a pulsating yet quiet energy within it, something known yet unknown,
calling from within and extending out towards the viewer with nothing so much as a visual hum.
At this early moment in his artistic journey, Fridge was thinking about Robert Smithson and Ed Ruscha
and “all manner of ‘figure/ground’ relationships: spatial-temporal, geographical, cultural, semantic, etc.”
From the outset, Fridge calls into question the basic tenets of what it is to truly see,
and then in turn has the viewer question what it is we’re really seeing.
Something familiar with open-ended questions: An invented personal cosmos? Outtakes from the outer limits?
Investigations into the unknown? The sonogram margins of a coming being? All, some, or neither it seems.
When first exploring the medium of video in the mid-90s, Fridge relied on a homespun solution to positing his queries.
The Vault Sequence series began as quiet galaxies collapsing in the artist’s freezer aided into annihilation by the draw of a vacuum’s suction off-screen.
Filmed in black and white, minute ice crystals swirl about in tandem, calling forth greater mysteries in the silence of this alchemical kitchen investigation.
As you breathe in the cosmic wonderment of Fridge’s work, the only sounds you hear are the ones
for which you and others in the room are responsible, making one feel both minuscule and grand at once.
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