Malte Bruns

Saturday Night Frights, 2017

Mixed Media

Variable


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Artwork
Description

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Malte Bruns is part of a history of artists interested in the artificiality of humanity; his fragmented human forms seem to pose questions of how far the divide between man and machine goes in contemporary society. There exists a complex interplay between the fragility of the human anatomy and its strengths, which is reflected in Bruns’ depiction of the body as a site of technology.

‘Saturday Night Frights’ is reminiscent of a Hollywood special-effects studio; here Bruns houses unseeing fragments of human anatomy, their veins visible under the artificial skin. The eerie setup of the installation highlights Malte Bruns’ humorous take on ‘bad taste’ aesthetics in films as he makes his manufactured creatures yet more unnatural by bathing them in bright colours. Prevously shown in a different configuration at the KIT Museum in Dusseldorf with the title ‘Tremors’, it made a reference to ‘horror trash’ cult classic films like Ron Underwood’s Tremors (1990) which featured massive subterranean, man-eating worms and combined two elements essential to Malte Bruns: the body and pop culture.

Simultaneously, Tremors could also be interpreted through a medical lens. Derived from the Latin ‘tremere’ meaning ‘to tremble’, a tremor describes an involuntary, repeated contraction of muscles. Bruns’ videos echo this meaning, as a rhythmic motif which flows throughout the loops of film in the installation; he depicts several body parts engaged in defective, mechanical movements as if they have lost both control and self-determination.

Focus on Die längste Theke, 2016

“The longest bar”, the Anglicised title of Bruns’ work, makes reference to Dusseldorf’s historic Old Town, also known as the “longest bar in the world” (die längste Theke der Welt) thanks to its many pubs and restaurants. This location is significant as Malte was a student at the Academy of Art Düsseldorf (2009–2014) where he studied sculpture with Prof. Georg Herold.

The slouched torso appears to either be as yet unfinished, or maybe the ruins of a finished work. A wooden plank juts out of the neck, a metal bar out of a shoulder – perhaps that which he refers to in the title of the work. These are materials from the hardware store, which Bruns uses to propagate his own manual work in relation to craft.

Busts have a long history in art as figurative forms which recreated the likeness of an individual, often cast out of marble, bronze or wood. Made of silicone, Bruns’ sculpture, with its unpolished nature goes against the tradition of sculpture as a ‘high art’ form often used to commemorate important members of society. As the head is missing, the sculpture is anonymous and ambiguous, it makes one wonder whose head should be atop those shoulders.

About
the artist

Malte Bruns (b.1984) is a German artist who recently graduated with a Masterclass from the Academy of Art Düsseldorf (2009–2014) where he studied sculpture with Prof. Georg Herold. During this time he was also a Gueststudent at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Prof. Stephan Huber. In 2014, he was the recipient of a prestigious travel grant from the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, which allowed him to take part in a project-independent journey and further the development of his artistic work. In 2016, Bruns was shortlisted for the prestigious Nam June Paik Award.

Bruns took part in numerous group shows during his time at the Academy, exhibiting his works in several exhibitions. He has since had solo shows, in 2015 he showed a collection of works in I’ve done… questionable things  - the title of which is a reference to the sci-fi film Blade Runner (1982) directed by Ridley Scott. The film explored concepts of artificial intelligence and the nature of humanity, themes upon which Bruns bases his laboratory-esque works, firmly situating his practice within the realm of New Media.

More recently, Bruns showed his works at an exhibition titled Tremors 2017 at the KIT in Düsseldorf.

Malte Bruns' references point to atmospheres and themes that deal in a medial way with the world of work, mechanics and machine. His both backward-looking view of realities and innovations of the industrial revolution, and forward facing in today’s illusion techniques and animation capabilities, reflect the inventiveness and spirit of progress. Bruns’ works are interdisciplinary combinations of cinematic elements, photography, sculpture and architecture in installative environments - which are often reminiscent of special effects studios strewn with Franken-prosthetics, genetic engineering laboratories, and freak shows. They all share an element of artificial creation; however he sets himself in opposition to the prosthetics industry's aim to perfection, instead favouring the grotesque, the unfinished, the uncanny.

"What I've found are puzzles that you don't want to solve", with this statement Bruns ventures into the eerie realm of transhumanism through the darkly comic depictions of disembodied anatomies. His sculptures are exemplary of E. Jentsch’s essay On the Psychology of the Uncanny (1906) which explained situations perceived as strangely familiar, he particularly addressed this phenomena in relation to automata, the mechanical human-like creations popular at the time. He also influenced Sigmund Freud who mentions the work of Jentsch in his essay The Uncanny (1919) in which he argued that the uncanny's mixture of the familiar and the eerie confronts the subject with unconscious, repressed impulses. Interestingly however, Freud dismissed human-like automata as source of the uncanny, a position at odds with contemporary anxieties. These fears have since been outlined in Masahiro Mori's hypothesis of Bukimi No Tani (1970), which forecasted a revulsion to robots whose appearance resembled, but did not quite replicate, that of a real human.

Bruns' cyborg creations blur the lines of distinction between the dichotomies of organism and machine, art and nature. He portrays the body as a site of technology, not as a site of nature, and appears to be posing the question of "how far can this go?" through his works. He explores the notion of The Uncanny by exposing the mechanics behind the future of medicine and technology. His posthumanist visions bathed in eerie lighting, in unnatural shades, are fleshy though not alive and remind us of the increasing presence of the artificial in our lives.


“What I’ve found are puzzles that you don’t want to solve”, with this statement Bruns ventures into the eerie realm of transhumanism through the darkly comic depictions of disembodied anatomies.

Interestingly however, Freud dismissed human-like automata as source of the uncanny, a position at odds with contemporary anxieties. These fears have since been outlined in Masahiro Mori’s hypothesis of Bukimi No Tani (1970), which forecasted a revulsion to robots whose appearance resembled, but did not quite replicate, that of a real human.


Malte Bruns
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

September 7th, 2017 until
October 21st, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER