Webmuseum's Spotlight Gallery presents
THE MANFRED MOHR RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION
February - July 2000
About the Artist Artist's Statement Reviews
THE MANFRED MOHR RETROSPECTIVE EXHBIITION
In my artistic development I did not have the typical constructivist background. I was
an action painter and jazz musician.
Through a development of consciousness, I detached myself from spontaneous expressions, and, in the mid 60's, turned to a more systematic, geometric form of expression.
It was mainly the writings of the German philosopher Max Bense and the French composer Pierre Barbaud which radically changed my thinking - pointing to a rational construction of art.
My art developed into an algorithmic art, in which inventing rules, or algorithms, is the foundation of my research.
These "conceptual rules" are not necessarily based on already imaginable
forms, but often on abstract and systematic processes. They are parametric rules, which
means that, at certain points in the process, choices have to be made as to which way a
calculation should continue.
In many of such instances, random decisions are employed. Random decisions are switching points that ensure a value-free method of moving the program ahead. They can be: (a) a choice of yes/no; (b) a choice among many, but equal elements; or (c) a choice to distribute elements statistically over a surface.
Even though my work process is rational and systematic, its results can be unpredictable. Like a journey, only the starting point and a hypothetical destination is known. What happens during the journey is often unexpected and surprising.
In my research, since 1973 I have been concentrating on fracturing the symmetry of a cube (including n-dimensional hypercubes since 1978), using the structure of the cube as a "system" and "alphabet".
What interests me, are the two-dimensional signs (Ítres- graphiques) and their visual
ambiguity resulting from the projection of the lines of the cubes from higher dimensions
I describe them as unstable signs because they evoke visual unrest.
The disturbance or disintegration of symmetry is a basic generator of new constructions and relations.
My art-work is always the result of a calculation. At the same time, however, it is not a mathematical art, but rather an expression of my artistic experience. The rules I invent reflect my thinking and feelings.
It is not necessarily the system or logic of my work I want to present, but the visual invention which results from it.
My artistic goal is reached when a finished work can dissociate itself from its logical content and stand convincingly as an independent abstract entity.
Algorithms can become very complex, that is to say, complicated and difficult to
survey. In order to master this problem, in 1969 I decided that the use of a computer
would be necessary in my work.
Only in this way is it possible to superimpose multiple rules without loosing track of the general concept.
It is inevitable that the results - that is, my images - are difficult to be understood at first glance. The information is deeply buried, and a certain participation is demanded from the viewer - a readiness to interrogate this material.
Each art-work is based on a subset of a defined structure, ranging from cubes to 6-D
Unable to detect the complete system the viewer, never the less, notices a strong visual force holding everything together. This force is created by the logic of the inherent relationships in the underlaying structure.
This is a critical point: Some viewers will panic and reject this unknown and 'inhuman' force, whereas others will gladly acknowledge it as a reassuring starting point.
Eventhough all my work can be verified and rationally understood, it does not mean that there is no room for imaginative associations. On the contrary, the rational part of my work is limited basically to its production. What the viewer experiences, understands, learns, interprets, or imagines because of the presence of the art work, remains very personal.
An art work is only a starting point, a principle of order, an artist's guidelines, intended to provoke the viewer to continue the investigation.