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14 Oct 2015

Video launch | Ulrich Riedel

Extract and Multiply


Gianni Hilgemann
+49-30-24 087 606

Potsdamer Str. 61
10785 Berlin

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Ulrich Riedel has the ability to look at words, phrases and sentence with a dispassionate eye and see abstract connections and formal anomalies. In a detached, mathematical manner he develops a geometric language to visually express certain syntactical structures in restrained minimalist fashion, frequently employing pangrams and palindrome sentences in such works as The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog (207°) (2011) and Der Sämann Arepo (Sator Arepo) (2010).

His pieces often challenge and question perception. In s m l xl (2010), for instance, the work’s spotless, seemingly innocent white surface so reminiscent of Apple products is deceptive. Though there is no actual difference in size between the four panels marked “s”, “m”, “l” and “xl”, our mind automatically assumes there is, with the result that we see the first one as being smaller than the one next to it, and so on, underlining the degree to which packaging influences our perception of products.

Indeed, our very sight is conditioned and formatted by the clever advertising and marketing we encounter and consume on a daily basis. We refer to the labels on objects rather than examining the items themselves, and, quite literally, blindly believe what we read. Riedel counters this form of brainwashing by encouraging the viewer to reassess their initial interpretation of the work and engage with it critically. The artist thus activates his public by requiring them to break their habitual viewing patterns and to really look at what is being presented.

Riedel forces us to take a step back from the predictive function of the brain, where for the purposes of efficiency previously stored information is used to generate an automatic response to visual stimuli, with the result that most of the things we believe to see and read are merely prompted by the mind. This process is, however, disrupted by pieces like s m l xl, where a second glance is necessary to determine what is not quite right in this picture. The aim is thus threefold; critical reading, critical seeing, critical thinking.

The realization that the terms “me” and “we” is merely separated by a 180° rotation of the first letter is equally, and again quite literally, eye-opening, as demonstrated by the artist’s installation me/we (2010-2011). The conceptual change, or indeed semantic reversal, is the result of a simple physical alteration, illustrating that everything is a question of perspective. Riedel may have nothing to say, as he claims in his eponymous piece, but plenty to show.