Friday 09 March 2012

Shift happens

Max Hattler is about to launch his first solo exhibition at Tenderpixel. He has had solo exhibitions around the world, but this is the first in his hometown of London.

Max Hattler. Photo by Akemi Kurosaka.

We chatted to Max just before the exhibition opened.

Tell us about the forthcoming exhibition.

It's my first solo show in London. I have been showing all over, but not so much where I live. It's premiering one work called Shift, an abstract stop-motion-based film exploring the idea of the fifth dimension, and the dimensional shift that we're supposed to be going through this year. It's a commission from Animate Projects, who champion experimental and artist-led animation in the UK. I have wanted to work with them for a long time on a film, so I'm pleased that has finally happened. They have commissioned five films on the subject of the 2012 Apocalypse by different people.

It fitted quite well with the Apocalypse and things that I'm interested in at the moment, which circle around using abstraction as a means of storytelling, hovering between figurative and the abstract. With my recent works, I have been drawn to the themes of spirituality and physics. So, this is a nice fit.

 

So, you're interested in the meeting point between theory and practice.

Yes. I use an idea as a starting point and them develop it intuitively and see where it leads me. With the film, I took those themes as my starting point, but someone else might see the film and see something completely different. I'm not really worried about that; I like the idea of people bringing their own meanings to the table, finding things within. Theory is more like a starting point.

 

Are you offering this work on the assumption that you are not necessarily highlighting specific meanings, but rather inviting viewers to make personal interpretations?

 What I like to do is to give little pointers: a title or synopsis, that frames it a little bit, then I leave the rest open. It gives you an entry but, at the same time, it lets you be free to interpret the work anyway you want.

 

How have you used the space at Tenderpixel?

There are two projections; one is of the main work, and the second is of another work. There's also a work on a plasma screen. These two other works are more like moving paintings - 2D sculptures. I was considering prints, because it's something that I have never done before as I have always worked in the short film format. At the end, however, I decided not to, and instead produced something that works like a painting, but still moves. They are supporting pieces. The film is constantly changing, with the other two pieces being images that you can look at and take in, like a painting, but they retain a kinetic, moving quality.

 

What's on the agenda for you for the rest of the year?

The film is to be broadcast on Channel 4 next month. I'm at a film festival next week in Holland, then off to Lithuania for five weeks for an artists' residency on the Baltic coast. I'll make a new piece of work there. I do a lot of live festivals and performance work, so I'll be at the European Media Art Festival next month.

 

What will the work from your Lithuanian residency consist of?

I can't tell you!... before I made films I used to make electronic music. The way in which I would make it would be very intuitive. You start somewhere, and end up making a track that you like. I still make films in the same way. I start somewhere and that could be a theoretical idea, married to some kind of aesthetic interest, an object, a look... and I explore it from there. If you work with animation it's such a slow process... I hate the idea of planning it out before. You can fail easily when doing it, but at the same time it keeps it engaging, because if you don't know exactly what you're doing, it's more fun. I'll be making a film on the Baltic coast... full stop. [Laughs]

 

It sounds like the journey is as interesting as the end product.

Process is important, just because you have to keep it interesting for yourself, or you stop making work. I try different things each time. The idea is to be inspired by my surroundings.

 

            

1923 aka Heaven

 

With the history that you have - a film-maker, a musician - are you as interested in the media as much as the creative process?

The medium that I'm working with now... I was always interested in sound and in visuals. It took me a long time to find the medium. Now that I've found it, I do like working with moving images. It gives me both; it gives me a visual medium, but also time to play with it. I like that in a live context, in a short-form context, and increasingly in a spatial context, such as in a gallery space. I don't think that I would go back to just making music. I thought that it would be nice to make prints, and it was a strategic consideration, but I really wanted my images to move.

 

Are you considering other forms as your work evolves in the future?

I'm getting more interested in breaking out from just one screen. Heaven and Hell, companion pieces which are infinite loops, work best when shown together in the same space, side-by-side. The two interpretations of the spiritual world - overlapping, merging - they look the same, and I like how they talk to each other. I might develop those concepts more in the future.

 

 

              

1925 aka Hell

 

Max Hattler's website features further information and work, and he is @maxhattler on Twitter.

"Shift" is showing at Tenderpixel, London, 09/03/12 - 28/04/12.

It will subsequently be broadcast on Channel 4, and shown online at C4's Random Acts website, and at Animate Projects.



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