Max Hooper Schneider

Max Hooper Schneider was born in 1982 in Los Angeles where they live and work. They graduated from Harvard University in 2011 with a master’s degree in landscape architecture. The foregrounding of material technologies and biological systems within this field continues to inform their artistic practice. Hooper Schneider’s work develops and explores the aesthetics of succession through the creation of worlds that materialize and dramatize nature in diverse ways, with nature conceived as a process of ceaseless change and morphogenic modulation. The resultant work voids the difference between the natural and the artificial, challenges hegemonic systems of classification, and suggests a worldview that strives to dislocate humans from their assumed position of centrality and superiority as knowers and actors in the world.

Location: Vilnius
Max Hooper Schneider Plasm(0)void 6 2017 Borosilicate oviform, metallic glass embryo sculpture, noble gas mixture, high-voltage electrode, repurposed trash can 19 x 19 x 46 inches Courtesy the artist and High Art
Photo by Michael Underwood

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With uranium glass and noble gas mixtures, and electrodes all in a row. Max Hooper Schneider speculates future forms within their experimental ecosystems and explores mutability through his choice of materials. Their sculptures explore the tension and pressure of emergence, both in a cognitive and material sense, such as when using neon. The environments he creates to contain this matter – terrariums and aquariums – are interstitial holding spaces, a place for its inhabitants – neon combobulations or embryo ‘germs’ as in his Plasm(0)void series – can exist. The germ, the seed. At its origin.


Schneider’s works are informed by investigations into material technologies and biological systems that remain under observation. How does a thing form? Do we start at the beginning, in the primordial moment, when even naming seems premature? Schneider invites viewers to engage at this point exactly, of dispelled taxonomy and unsettled sense. What are you looking at? Something electric. Something high voltage. Something volatile. And many times over. Schneider multiplies the moment, most often working in series; an approach stemming from monist principles that concur everything in existence is in fact part of the same whole. In other words, there is only one concrete object, and everything is interconnected. For Schneider, it follows then, that everything has an equal agency to act, and to be acted upon. If everything is a part of everything else, following the logic through, everything becomes both an affective agent, and an affected agent.


Spectacular display. A nursed poetic myth. In neon. Schneider’s Plasm(0)void series presents and performs a different kind of hazard with its metallic embryos suspended in glass eggs and filled with a unique noble gas mixture. Though contained proposals in a material sense, the works are live electric fields. Neon light crackles down the ovoid forms, peeling outwards. Temporary hotspots mark points of convection, possible contact zones. Lay your hand against this warmth right here. Feel the energy transfer between us. Inertia dispelled in a moment. First time quick retraction. Second time linger a little longer. Not so sharp. Not what you thought it would feel like. Something passed. A little spark that changes direction as it is absorbed. See it run around inside its shell. Electric tippy-toes. Energy captured and held in a field. Micro-storms. Constant surprises. Reverberating revelations. It’s not what just happened but what is happening next. Unmaking the last move with the next. Following it around. Hard to keep track. And then there was light. And life? Disaster strobe egg portending the next epoch. Signs of life but no settlement. Crackling within itself before it gets out. Next world coming soon.


Tamar Clarke-Brown