It’s tempting to think of Chris Fraser as a magician: his phenomenological experiments with sculpture and installation use light in a way so foreign to everyday perception that they appear to be tricks or illusions. But Fraser is not trying to trick us; instead he is amplifying the minute and unexpected behaviors of light in the manner of a microscope or a pinhole camera, rendering concrete an image of it that is more revelatory than what our minds typically perceive.
Fraser started as a “straight” photographer. Then, by way of David Hockney, he happened upon the same experiments that led Robert Irwin and James Turrell to start conducting their own investigations into Light and Space. Now Fraser appears to be in Bruce Nauman territory, keenly aware of that fact, and generating new ideas because of it. I talked with Fraser last year about the difference between Turrell’s focus and his own. Fraser sees a distinction between the phenomenology of space and the viewers’ perception of that space. He focuses on the latter, using clear allusions to neon as a medium but stripping it of any intention, any added symbolism by the artist. He uses so-called noble gasses because they are non-reactive. Thus, light is a passive element and you are an active participant. Like Bruce Nauman stamping around in his studio in front of a