Artist FRIDGE’s ‘FreezerBurn Factory’ Is a Playful Take On an A.I. Takeover

The Philippines-born artist based in Brooklyn has created an art show of robots and more.

FRIDGE sitting in front of his desk with a computer, a turned over glass above a puddle of green liquid, and other props.
FRIDGE sitting in his ‘laboratory.’ Tiffany Del Valle

Much of New York’s copious art can be seen in exhibitions in museums and galleries, murals inside and outside of local businesses and restaurants and even large public installations along the streets of Manhattan, but another art form that greatly contributes to the vibrancy of NYC is graffiti. It’s these spray-painted masterpieces scattered around New York City that left a mark on the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist FRIDGE, whose solo exhibition “FreezerBurn Factory” at the Lower East Side’s CLLCTV.NYC (pronounced “collective”) is attracting the attention of street art lovers, the techno-curious and people interested in the city’s art scene.

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I first encounter him taking in some fresh air, seated on a chair next to the gallery’s front door. But soon enough, he stood up and walks to the wall to the right of the entrance, where there is a painting of iridescent skyscrapers, colored violet with yellow highlights, under a purple and pink sky. Next to the painting is a transparent plexiglass case with bright slime-green liquid pooled at the bottom. FRIDGE plugged a cable attached to the case into an outlet, and the liquid is propelled upward, where it cascades over the purple 3D bubble letters in the center of the case. The slime-dripping graffiti reads “New York New York”—each word stacked atop the other. “I always like to incorporate a piece centering New York at my shows,” the artist told Observer. 

FRIDGE was born in the Philippines to a family of artists and moved to Brooklyn at age six. Inspired by his bloodline of painters and Bensonhurst’s rich graffiti culture, he now works in a mix of traditional and contemporary art styles, and his output includes digital media, sculpture and paintings. In “FreezerBurn Factory,” he debuts his latest works, which combine laser engraving, 3D-printing, acrylic and aerosol spray paint and artificial intelligence. There’s even a video game.

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The artist, who digital art collectors might remember from his SoHo billboard-biddable yet also invisible NFT Nothing Fucking There, has transformed CLLCTV.NYC into a robot-production facility in a world in which A.I. has taken over. Gallery visitors move through the space in stages, taking in sketches of robot refrigerators before progressing to 3D-rendered images of fridges and then on to framed A.I.-generated digital prints and acrylic paintings of his FRIDGEBOTS. At the far end of the gallery are his collection of FRIDGEBOT sculptures.

Red robot sculpture with a stop sign that says "Stop Doing Nothing"
‘Stop Doing Nothing’ by FRIDGE. Courtesy of Bailarin Photography

On three rows of shelves, twenty-four FRIDGEBOTS stand on rotating bases that offer a 360-degree view. FRIDGE points out the wiring between the shelves and explains that the sculptures’ movements are controlled by custom stepper motors, printed circuit boards and code to synchronize the sculptures, all achieved via a collaboration with artist and engineer mike_wires (also known as MEWS). “These are the main attractions and I wanted the viewer to see all of them in detail,” he said. “So I hit up my friend MEWS and I was like, I need something that spins and he helped me bring it to life.” 

24 robot sculptures mounted on shelves in rows of 8.
FRIDGE’S FRIDGEBOTS on their rotating plates. Tiffany Del Valle

The sculptures are a hodgepodge of mixed media elements: the arms and legs are 3D-printed and the bodies are laser cut from materials like wood and plexiglass. FRIDGE explains that each sculpture has a personalized backstory and name, but he wants the audience to come up with their own stories for the bots. He points to one with a neon orange body, yellow limbs and a biohazard label. “If I said this is the radioactive biohazard one that got chemically spilled and started a mutation, then they’re going to be like ‘alright,’” he said, laughing. “I don’t think there should be rules for it.”

A collection of fifty empty spray cans, leftovers from FRIDGE’s previous projects, have 3D-printed limbs and are stationed on bent neon plexiglass shelves. Each is titled CANBOT with a respective number. The artist had been holding onto the concept for a long time and the culmination of FRIDGEBOTS inspired the execution of the CANBOTS

Spray cans with arms and legs attached to it on plexiglass shelves
FRIDGE’s CANBOTS. Courtesy of Bailarin Photography

Next to the CANBOTS, FRIDGE’s “laboratory” replicates his studio in Brooklyn in the gallery. His desk is furnished with props, such as custom lab vials in a test tube rack, a nameplate that reads “FRIDGE ONE, Mad Scientist” and an overturned glass exuding a puddle of green liquid next to his computer’s keyboard. The walls surrounding his desk are filled with art including graffiti on canvases and a skateboard mounted onto the wall with fake grass and bright green 3D-prints reading “EXOTICS.”

Sculpture of microwave transformed into a robot
FRIDGEBOT: MWAVE1337, a microwave transformed into a robot. Courtesy of Bailarin Photography

FRIDGE’s “FreezerBurn Factory” is conceptually elusive as it could only be rendered through his own experiences with art, technology and tagging. The exhibition highlights his unique artistry and craftsmanship, and his attention to detail can be seen in his purposeful storytelling, which is reinforced by the custom video game coded by developer Raw Syndicate that visitors can play in the gallery. The show stands on its own, but one question remains: why refrigerators? “The name ‘FRIDGE’ comes from my graff days. At the time I thought, what is the coolest thing in my house: a fridge,” the artist explained. “I wanted to exude coolness through my art, and the name stuck.”

FreezerBurn Factory” is on view at CLLCTV.NYC through April 30.

Artist FRIDGE’s ‘FreezerBurn Factory’ Is a Playful Take On an A.I. Takeover