Sabine B. Vogel / Bewegte Räume / ISBN 3-85486-2

A beam of light moves across a wall in a dark space. The edges and irregularities of the boundaries become visible for a brief moment. In computer-orientated language Manfred Gruebl’s installation could find an analogy in scanning. Centimetre for centimetre the details of the space are gradually traced. Manfred and Elisabeth Gruebl take up this process in their co-production, a series of monitor projections: a line moves slowly across three screens vertically and then horizontally, stretching and contracting, or a black field slowly covers the screen from top to bottom.

A similar process is the starting point for his most recent series: the visual language of ‘rendering’, the digital calculation and representation of three-dimensional scenes in regular movement is played directly from the computer and projected into the space. Forms burdened with the fewest possible associations, such as molecules, are present in the image as large blue fields, changing with every movement of line from the monochrome micro – into the macro structure of small spheres. ‘Rendering 02’ starts with abstract pixels which gradually congregate to form the image of a revolving monster-like doll. Gruebl does not work with computer generated images in ‘Rendering 08’ but with film material of an anonymous crowd of people walking along a corridor: row for row the colour pixels are halved until the raster forms itself into people.

Technological processes form a sort of frame for Gruebl’s works. It is determined by a fascination for these processes and the question of transference to other dimensions, other spaces. Seen less technically, Gruebl’s works also exhibit a sculptural treatment of space in this regard. The lines first trace a geometric space. The geometric space is homogenous, length to width to height, with overall equivalence, and it reduces complex surroundings to fields – space as a technicized surface of the world, a perfect continuum. Both the scanner and the rendering works present this space and at the same time grow beyond it. They open a door into a different space formed by the play of light and colour, which is in motion. These spaces are continuously created in a transient image language on an abstract sculptural level as space in space.

When I speak of a ‘space in space’, this recalls architectural construction. In fact, Gruebl studied architecture with Hans Hollein for two years before commencing his art studies. His sculptures, not only his computer generated processes but also his garments and ‘personal constellations’ can be described as imaginary architecture against this background.

The ‘personal constellations’ are a formation of eight identically dressed people in a closed, orthogonal arrangement. Each person looks at one other person. Gruebl set up this arrangement, which remained stationery for its whole duration, at the Lincoln Center, New York, during the interval. At the Saatchi Gallery, London, the arrangement began at a crowded moment during an exhibition opening. As the space gradually emptied the group became increasingly apparent until it dispersed with the last visitor. In the Berlin National Gallery Gruebl posted three people inside and five outside, in front of the large glass façade of the Mies van der Rohe building. Here the group broke through the boundary between the architectural interior and exterior.

The garments also create a similar space formed by people. Gruebl designed a pair of trousers and a T-shirt whose many zips make them convertible to the extent of a use as shoulder bags. A group of more than twenty people wore these garments, without receiving instructions or direction and they only became conspicuous through the fabric in the light of a nightclub.

In each of these works lines are created which can be drawn imaginarily, or as visible lines moving across a field isolated from every context. The space created goes beyond descriptive terms such as ‘geometric’ and ‘architectural’. Gruebl’s spaces are not static phenomena but more spatial events. They unite the Totally different properties of space: they are at one and the same time expansion and creation of place, playing with possibilities of storage, or rather archiving, and with spatial functions.

‘Space’ is much more than the geometric definition presents it to be. Space is simultaneously a metaphor and basic construct. Albert Einstein defined space as “a form of arrangement for physical objects” . Heidegger further defines the concept when he writes that space “in the world” is a “besorgende” construction of the senses created, and experienced by us . Space is “neither in the subject nor is the world in space”.

For the exhibition ‘Invisible Touch’ in the Kunstraum Innsbruck Manfred Gruebl, in collaboration with Elisabeth Gruebl, had blue light installed into ‘Nightliner’, the public night bus – a contribution which dominates the townscape until today, long after the end of the exhibition. The strong colour lends something unreal to the bus, to a small piece of the arrangement in the nightly townscape. The scanner-like spatial installations already mentioned create a simultaneous order of regular motion and the illusion of being inside a technical process – an impression which becomes even clearer in the design for ‘Rendering 03’ (2000). Here a corridor leads along two blue screens to a large projection surface, which leads itself from the blue surface into the small spheres. The spectators stand in its midst, as a colourful part in the centre of the enclosed blue surroundings – an impressive arrangement of micro- and macro-cosmos, which serves as a model explanation for every real space and becomes visible here, like an illusion. Gruebl’s works offer hermetic systems in which the categories ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ shift as closely together as order and illusion; moving spaces which are not to be stepped into but experienced.