This artist of the second half of the 20th century, who paints, draws, sculptures, influenced by the constructivists Kandinsky, Malevich… has worked with writers and poets such as Samuel Beckett. Wishing to overshawdow the voluminous and visual sides of things, he has very soon turned his artistic researches towards technical and immaterial aspects, experimenting sounds as sculptures, frequencies, living matters. “I am not interested in sculpture as volume. To me, classical sculpture means nothing. I wonder: is the idea of “space around something” “cosa mentale”?”
In the pictures:
Artist studio for Sound installations & Fax pieces
Interview with LARS FREDRIKSON
Excerpt from the review L’Ollave, 1998
MB: Yours is a curious itinerary. How did you get from a study of plastic space to one of sound and sound space?
Lars Fredrikson: I hadn’t actually imagined this as a sound space. This can be a plastic space. When I painted, of course, my goal was plastic space. But in painting, it is a depreciated space. I gradually became interested in sculpture to arrive at a real space – but not one of volume. I wanted my sculpture to speak of the space in which we find ourselves, to provide indications about our surroundings – including outer space.
MB: You mean a space that could be found outside the sculpture rather than inside the sculpture – for instance, not a modulated space?
Lars Fredrikson: Absolutely. Sculpture as volume does not interest me at all. For me, classical sculpture didn’t mean anything. I asked myself this question: the notion of “surrounding space,” is it “cosa mentale”? From that point on, I began making videos – transforming the television, creating synthesizers in order to be able to draw on the screen. I didn’t want to show the drawing as it was, but rather as fragments of it – and above all demonstrate that these fragments could correspond to the rhythms in us. So, when we look, the mind records the fragments coming from different sides.
And the synthesis we carry out in our mental space. And it’s there that the drawing is created, which I then make on the screen. But in three dimensions, rather than two. From there, I began to ask myself the following question: what if I showed visual fragments and, at the same time, using the same frequencies, I also made sound fragments heard, so that the work is found neither inside what I am looking at, nor in what I hear, but rather in the interference between the two. Because what interested me was to work with the plastic space, which I considered completely immaterial. Making a sculpture without matter! That is why I started focusing on sound. I dropped the visual side – too technical, but also too imprecise – and then I wanted to get away from the immediate experience. […]
[…] MB: Could one say that, at bottom, it isn’t really the sound that interested you?
Lars Fredrikson: Definitely. What interests me in sound is the space. But also a way of speaking of this space through sound. It seemed more accurate to me, at least from my experience, to use rhythms and frequencies – the frequencies closest to those found in us – and play on the zero-beat nuances vis-à-vis those frequencies.
MB: Can you explain what zero beats are?
Lars Fredrikson: A zero beat is when two frequencies are so close, so perfectly tuned with one another, that you hear only one.
MB: On one hand, the frequency that you create, on the other, the internal frequency?
Lars Fredrikson: That’s right.
MB: So, it’s a search for harmony, the search for resonance with the universe in which you find yourself, literally on “the same wave length.”
Lars Fredrikson: I felt that here was something to real because I was experiencing instances that, at the time, I had never experienced before. But I would like to go back for a moment and talk about the strange things I saw on my converted televisions.
I changed the scanning frequency of the screen – and I realized (I was totally pressed against the screen) that, at certain frequencies, I saw certain colors (let me remind you that it was a black and white set) with an intensity that I had never seen before (or perhaps sometimes when I had smoked hashish or things of that nature.) Some inactive colors appeared, but also women and small batons and pentagons, which strolled inside my eye. It was as if I was looking inside the screen, but the vantage point turned around and was looking inside the eye, at the blind spot. I threw all these things away… I thought I was going a bit mad, but it was really a reality because once I asked other people to look with me, they saw the same things. Is there a correlation to be drawn with the effect of drugs – perhaps through certain molecules in the brain that my frequencies may have excited as well?
MB: Could the alterations that you made on the television receivers be redone with precision? Could one say that certain frequencies must be sought to obtain certain effects? Or was it simply some empirical tweaking?
Lars Fredrikson: No, it wasn’t empirical at all. I may have noted the graduations – noting which frequency corresponded to which color, for example. I thought about doing it, but it was at a time when I was setting aside the visual aspect of “the work.” I wanted to free myself from everything. No longer having the sound intervene on me, in me. Even though it was effectively distributed throughout the space as well. You see, I wanted to make certain, finely-tuned experiments. I wanted to use frequencies that corresponded to the distance between my eardrums.
MB: To succeed in creating this immobile, plastic space?
Lars Fredrikson: Not immobile, because it exists inside me. […]
[…] MB: Immobile on the exterior?
Lars Fredrikson: Externally, this space is immobile.
MB: But if I move, does this space remain immobile or is it indeed tied to the movement of the listener?
Lars Fredrikson: For a time, yes, definitely, it was tied to the movement of the listener, but I didn’t want this connection. As the result was a function of the wavelength between two eardrums, there were maximums and minimums. And that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Fostering awareness of one’s own body. If you were like this, you heard a sound; if you were like that, there was silence. And each time, you gained awareness of your own situation within the work. But you had to be careful because if you moved without paying attention, it could be very painful for the ears.
MB: I think, at this point, we can ask ourselves the question again of identifying the difference between these plastic sounds and regular sounds.
Lars Fredrikson: I’ve come to think that plastic sounds are found in very, very low frequencies, and regular sounds are rather found in audible frequencies.
MB: At very low frequencies, we also hear, but perhaps we feel them more than we hear them?
Lars Fredrikson: Exactly. And here, there is a way to experience them by short-circuiting all musical-listening, intellectual or other experience. Experiencing the body, present in the moment.
MB: This could also be the definition of the plastic space of a painting – a painting is taken in by the body. The painting sensitizes one to the presence of the body. I think the basic problem with painting is that the viewer who wishes to gain access to the plastic space must grapple with his own gaze. The gaze holds things at a distance, pushing them back in order to recognize them.
Lars Fredrikson: I totally agree.
MB: Then, after a certain period of time, we feel like getting closer to the painting because there is a terrible dissatisfaction in looking at paintings. And one never gets there. It’s a hopeless undertaking.
Lars Fredrikson: Personally, I say: the image prevents us from seeing.
MB: The image, certainly, but not only the image, or rather entirely the image. It’s the gaze, itself, that is hostile to the plastic space. How do you succeed in joining the painting other than by looking at it? This is the whole problem, and you solve it through these low-frequency sounds that bring you directly back inside your body.
Lars Fredrikson: So, you understand why I didn’t want the television image anymore.
MB: Essentially, this plastic, almost immaterial space that moves through the flesh, is the culmination of a foot-to-foot combat. You went through all kinds of experiences – images, colors, collages, metal sculpture, sculpture in movement, video… You went through all the phases only to say, in the end, that with your sounds: here is beauty with neither body nor color.
Lars Fredrikson: Ah yes, neither body, nor color… (problem with the tape).