Max Eastley combines kinetic sculpture and sound into unique forms in consistently unexpected ways. The work of the artist and musician, born in Great Britain in 1944, primarily evolves out of the interplay between artistic intervention and nature.
The early works of the 1970s and 80s are testament to an intensive engagement with the history, aesthetics and acoustic phenomena of the Aeolian harp. With Eastley, wind harps and flutes always relate to their surroundings in both an auditory and visual way. The wind appears to make the objects vibrate “randomly,” but an explicit artistic approach to the natural or urban environment always immediately develops through tonalities or sculptural form. Eastley achieves this by formally deconstructing the classical instrument and letting the wind activate whistle-like objects (Metal Wind Flute, 1976; Wind Flutes, London Musician’s Collective, 1978) or several meters of strings (Chanteay Latex and Wood, 1986; Tyne Tees, 1991). In recent works, modern microphones allow the artist not only to visualize but also make audible even the wind’s minimal energy impulses (Audible Forces, 2013/14, Windklänge, 2014). In so doing, Eastley’s sculptures always form a relationship to urban or natural surroundings, drawing attention not only to the dynamics around us of which we are unaware, but also to visual counterpoints within the specific environment. In 2013, with aeolian circles, an installation was ultimately created that brought together the forces of exterior and interior: eight wind harps were positioned on the roof of a water tower in Berlin while ten individual sound sculptures were installed inside the reservoir. The range of sonorous to shrill sounds produced by the wind harps were electronically amplified and transferred in real time directly inside the water reservoir, where they merged with the auditory and visual landscapes of the kinetic sculptures in an unexpectedly exquisite fashion.
Through rhythmic or phonetic patterns Eastley’s installations and sculptures reveal the structures of the external world that surround man without fully submitting to the dictates of the artistic intervention in the process. In Eastley’s sculptures and installations, a certain “poetry of everyday life” or the “natural contingency” always evolves in a lightly dancing fashion.
Eastley, however, is not only a visual artist who works with sound, but also a musician and activist. Performances and concerts with “whirring” wood instruments (Whirled Music, 1978), recorded wind harps, or self-made instruments like the Arc, a flexible, electroacoustic monochord, comprise his musical repertoire. Since 2003, he has also been involved in installations or performances for the Cape Farewell Climate Change Project, an initiative organized by artists and scientists to draw attention to the impacts of global climate change on the Arctic.
Text: Fabian Czolbe
Translation: Erik Smith