Die Säulen der Bewegung
Minimalkinetische Objekte von Siegfried Kreitner
Von Klaus Honnef
Sie sind schlank, manchmal auch flach und bodenständig. Und selten kompakt. Sie wirken wie technische Geräte und dienen gleichwohl keinem besonderen Zweck. Viele leuchten; bald in anhaltender Dauer, bald in bestimmten Rhythmen. Das verwendete Material und die Präzision der Fertigung verleihen ihnen eine bestechende Eleganz. Sie erwecken den Eindruck von Vollkommenheit, als hätte eine Maschine sie geschaffen und kein Mensch Hand an sie gelegt. Nichts desto weniger verkörpert sich in ihnen ein gutes Stück sorgfältigster Handarbeit. Ganz nebenbei weisen sie den gern beschworenen Gegensatz von Handwerk und Technik in der Kunst dem Reich geläufiger Vorurteile zu.
|The Pillars of Motion
Siegfried Kreitner’s Minimalist Kinetic Objects
By Klaus Honnef
They are slim, sometimes flat and rooted to the ground. And rarely compact. They look like technical devices and yet do not seem to serve any specific purpose. Many of them glow; some continuously, some in persistent rhythms. The materials used and the precision of their making lends the objects a captivating elegance. They have the look of perfection, as if they had been produced by machine, never touched by human hands. In fact, however, they represent a good deal of painstaking manual craftsmanship. And they thus in passing manage to consign the oft-cited contradiction between artistic handiwork and technology to the realm of commonly held prejudices.
For it was no machine, but rather the artist Siegfried Kreitner who was responsible for conjuring these steles, cylinders, cubes and boxes, one opaque, the next transparent, the third combining both qualities. Classical columns often served as inspiration and orientation. But, unlike them, Kreitner’s pillars do not support anything. And what’s more, they expose their inner life, at least partially. Instead of bearing loads they perform optical theatre pieces.
Gazing at these objects, you soon find yourself drawn in by their magnetic pull. The longer you look, the more intense the attraction. At first they fascinate you. This is due in equal part to their technical perfection and the materials of which they’re made in most cases aluminium, plexiglass and neon tubes. No less intriguing is the kinetic element, the objects’ motor-driven perpetual motion. They move and yet are not themselves mobile.
But the most interesting thing about them is the smooth and seamless interplay of these two qualities. This might even cause a slight dizziness in some viewers, especially if they choose to walk around the objects for a full-circle view. This only leads to a growing feeling of perplexity. Questions pop up. The physical movement is thought-provoking. Thinking is plastic, Joseph Beuys once proclaimed. The corresponding wires hook up in the brain.
Kreitner invented an apt term to describe his art: Minimalist Kinetics. He locates his artworks on the horizon of two central movements in modern abstract art: Kinetics and Minimalism. Up until now, these two tended to be regarded as polar opposites. Especially in connection with the phenomenon of art. Kinetic art tended toward the baroque, Minimalism to the ascetic. Kinetics became a metaphor for summing up the individual experience of the modern world in a single word; and in Minimalism the principle of “less is more” culminates in a functionalist Modernism. Perhaps Minimalist Kinetics signifies motion reduced to its essence, in other words: to its necessity. This necessity consists in graphic psycho-physiological re-enactment. Only when movement becomes an end in itself, elevating itself as it were to standstill, does it become minimalist. This is also where natural science and the arts overlap.
Without doubt, Kreitner’s minimalist kinetic objects are witnesses to an artistic Modernism. They do not recount or illustrate anything. They share Modernism’s claim to autonomy, but not its hermeticism. Their kinship with kinetic as well as minimalist art is nonetheless at once close and far removed. They exhaust their possibilities neither in the hectic confusion of their inner workings nor in the erratic silence of the unchangeable. Their movements are slow, measured, gentle. Their light does not blind; it glows from within like in the paintings of Vermeer. The severity of the geometric is prised open, the playful dominates the rational, not vice-versa. And unless we are completely mistaken, once in a while a kernel of humour twinkles through. An aluminium stele with a diameter of eleven centimetres and a height of two metres, made up of three separate parts, does not soar upward unremittingly to infinity like Brancusi’s column, but instead bends downward again, the middle and upper sections mobile, lurching its way up rather than ascending in a smooth and uncompromising trajectory. Many viewers have read into the objects a human dimension, without the artist having deliberately anthropomorphised his works in any way.
Colour has come into play of late. This has the effect of increasingly shifting the movement from the primary, real level of things to the plane of visual perception. The result is a gain in complexity. Visual perception short-circuits rational and emotional reactions. Through precisely controlled sequences, the colour takes on the quality of energy made tangible. Distilled into colour, the light pulsates and seems ready at any moment to transcend the objects’ material shell to enter a virtual realm.
Although Kreitner never steps out of the terrain of art, it’s not difficult to project his objects onto the foil of the growing insecurities we feel about our world of experience. They are the products of an urge to play. Like all revolutionary inventions in recent history. The principle of “trial and error” guides their design. Kreitner eschews detailed sketches. The possibility of failure is inscribed in the artist’s work process. But to no lesser extent the possibility of discovering something even more unimaginable. “The great hope for the world is that, while we are playing with the world and our experiences, we will have the opportunity to select the best result.” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb). Siegfried Kreitner is on the way there.