Article for ARTUNER

Malte Bruns (b.1984) is a German artist who recently graduated with a Masterclass from the Academy of Art Düsseldorf (2009–2014) where he studied sculpture with Prof. Georg Herold. During this time he was also a Gueststudent at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Prof. Stephan Huber. In 2014, he was the recipient of a prestigious travel grant from the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, which allowed him to take part in a project-independent journey and further the development of his artistic work. In 2016, Bruns was shortlisted for the prestigious Nam June Paik Award.

Bruns took part in numerous group shows during his time at the Academy, exhibiting his works in several exhibitions. He has since had solo shows, in 2015 he showed a collection of works in I’ve done… questionable things  - the title of which is a reference to the sci-fi film Blade Runner (1982) directed by Ridley Scott. The film explored concepts of artificial intelligence and the nature of humanity, themes upon which Bruns bases his laboratory-esque works, firmly situating his practice within the realm of New Media.

More recently, Bruns showed his works at an exhibition titled Tremors 2017 at the KIT in Düsseldorf.

Malte Bruns' references point to atmospheres and themes that deal in a medial way with the world of work, mechanics and machine. His both backward-looking view of realities and innovations of the industrial revolution, and forward facing in today’s illusion techniques and animation capabilities, reflect the inventiveness and spirit of progress. Bruns’ works are interdisciplinary combinations of cinematic elements, photography, sculpture and architecture in installative environments - which are often reminiscent of special effects studios strewn with Franken-prosthetics, genetic engineering laboratories, and freak shows. They all share an element of artificial creation; however he sets himself in opposition to the prosthetics industry's aim to perfection, instead favouring the grotesque, the unfinished, the uncanny.

"What I've found are puzzles that you don't want to solve", with this statement Bruns ventures into the eerie realm of transhumanism through the darkly comic depictions of disembodied anatomies. His sculptures are exemplary of E. Jentsch’s essay On the Psychology of the Uncanny (1906) which explained situations perceived as strangely familiar, he particularly addressed this phenomena in relation to automata, the mechanical human-like creations popular at the time. He also influenced Sigmund Freud who mentions the work of Jentsch in his essay The Uncanny (1919) in which he argued that the uncanny's mixture of the familiar and the eerie confronts the subject with unconscious, repressed impulses. Interestingly however, Freud dismissed human-like automata as source of the uncanny, a position at odds with contemporary anxieties. These fears have since been outlined in Masahiro Mori's hypothesis of Bukimi No Tani (1970), which forecasted a revulsion to robots whose appearance resembled, but did not quite replicate, that of a real human.

Bruns' cyborg creations blur the lines of distinction between the dichotomies of organism and machine, art and nature. He portrays the body as a site of technology, not as a site of nature, and appears to be posing the question of "how far can this go?" through his works. He explores the notion of The Uncanny by exposing the mechanics behind the future of medicine and technology. His posthumanist visions bathed in eerie lighting, in unnatural shades, are fleshy though not alive and remind us of the increasing presence of the artificial in our lives.