ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: What’s Wrong?
Julian Brangold Analyzes Frenetik Void’s Latest Works
A hope for salvation is interrupted by a feeling that everything is melting: the walls, the beings, the pixels; the digital matter from which everything is made also melts. Melts into an organized mess that fortuitously leaves behind a most harmonious composition. We witness a balance, an order injected amongst the disarray: vestiges of Frenetik’s previous work-style, where an almost theatrical staging used to take place and everything was where it was meant to be, chaotically neat.
When looking into Frenetik Void’s most recent body of works, one could get a feeling that we were looking at someone other artist’s production, or that Frenetik has created yet another persona. But that is not the case. This series is most certainly a rupture in visual language, where the neatness and the theatricality of previous works are replaced with overload and outburst. This shift is very much a testimony to the versatility Frenetik has as a creator, and the existential impossibility of placing him in one defined category.
There is a strong presence of the color yellow in many of the works within this series, which according to Wassily Kandinsky alludes to high pitched sound, while also likening it to a Dionysian frenzy. It’s conveniently fitting: Frenetik’s recent work is all about a stab in the eye. Turbulence begins. Frenetik normally jumpstarts their process of creation with a certain emotion that they struggle to process: the fragile dance of freeing the caged animal. These pixels encapsulate Frenetik’s impossible attempt to release an infinite, unfulfilled potential. Frenetik is screaming into an unfinished existence.
Excess is portrayed by way of an extreme mixture of media. 3D renders, screenshots from everyday computer use, hand-drawing, digital collage and effects, typography all compound together into a vortex of visual information. It all mixes quite musically, but there is clearly an uncomfortable overflow. This is quite akin to Frenetik’s critical, uneasy view of contemporary culture. Both infinite potential and the monstrous, bundled together into one ecosystem that is trying to find its way back from some unsavory detour.
In this new series of works, Frenetik demonstrates a more calculated gesture in displaying their own machinery, a nakedness. This is the digital: We are an illusion, this is fiction, there is the stage, here is the audience. A virtual candor. From these elements I am born. In this decision, a certain maturity transpires. Maturity in the sense of confidence, of working on top of some knowledge acquired from putting blocks on top of blocks tirelessly for years.
Frenetik states their journey began using rudimentary collage software on their phone. Since then, they have come a long way in creating a visual universe out of much multifarious media: Painting, collage, video-art, sculpture all intertwine in what seems to be an ironic look into the depths of the subconscious mind via the construction and manipulation of digital entities. From Frenetik’s early works onward, I detect an obsession with reinterpreting form, deforming bodies and taking their shapes to extremes. This obsession seems to have survived throughout the years, taking different configurations but remaining as a persistent subject matter.
Frenetik’s newfound maturity can also be understood as a weariness, a dark encumbrance from so much of the bullshit in the crypto environment which Frenetik’s works swim across: claim, drop, money, mint, sell, sell, sell. This feeling stems from the myriad of web components that transpire in the collage-like composition: windows, tabs, twitter, even some nft marketplaces are captured as a ghostly wallpaper, fervent scrolling backgrounds that roll at a very familiar pace.
The manipulation of time is also quite present in creating a feeling of uneasy rhythm. It is both terribly fast and painfully tranquil, reminding us how the crypto-space’s manic trudge towards progress is not always the healthier option. The play with time in these works (especially works like “☜︎●︎☹︎□︎□︎◻︎☠︎□︎☜︎⬧︎☹︎□︎□︎◻︎☜︎■︎☹︎□︎□︎◻︎” and No puedo hablar) suggests a constant back and forth between fast and slow, movement and stillness, that creates a critical mass momentum. It’s uncertain whether we should slow down or speed up, but clearly something about the rhythm we are sustaining is off.
There are still many elements that can be recognized from Frenetik’s “signature” style, like bodies or body parts, and subverted, radical facial expressions that seem to represent someone trying to cope with, or even melding with, the surrounding mayhem. But now, the orderly has turned to magma, an unstable structure in shambles that barely holds together. Maybe Frenetik is trying to say something about contemporaneity, about a context that they have shared with us to the extent that it is now our context. It feels as though Frenetik is trying to convey that reality turned on them, like a psychedelic trip that was going amazingly well but suddenly started turning sour.
The series title asks “What’s Wrong? You Look Lost.” It feels as though Frenetik, through the characters and the environments they meticulously place in their compositions, are suddenly, inadvertently, fulfilling the role of the entity in the bad trip who might help us find our way back to sanity. Or maybe Frenetik is helping us accept that we may not know our own path forward, but we must still dive deeper into disturbing uncertainty, our eyes sharp and arms open.