Through his artwork, Carsten Nicolai overcomes the segregation of forms of sensory perception. Sound is made visible, light frequencies are heard. Sound, light, time, and space are the cornerstones of the work of the artist, who is making neither a political statement nor yet another self-reflexive discourse about art. Instead, he tries to investigate and penetrate the frontiers of perception, of which we have no conception but which do seem to have an effect on us.
Nicolai is experimental in his art in a scientific sense. He formulates precise conditions, clears away that which is unnecessary, defines environments in which his artworks can grow: sometimes through the influence of the public, sometimes through moments of disturbance, blurring, or chance in the system. Self-organized processes – for example, the formation of snowflakes in the air due to impurities and disturbances – fascinate him. Through the formation of self-organization and chance, Nicolai can step into the background as an artist and avoids the personification of his artwork. Such processes speak for themselves.
Carsten Nicolai began with painting – first, completely classic: oil on canvas. Then, however, with the exploration of new artistic possibilities, the search also began for other materials that would suit his objectives. The conventional canvas was replaced by translucent polyester frameworks within which the arriving light breaks and whereby the color in the picture is produced. Liquid-filled basins placed on loudspeakers through which digitally worked sound samples are played reproduce frequency patterns on their surfaces. Through the explosion of a gas mixture, the speed of sound at 334 meters per second is made visible in a glass tube. On his label “raster noton”, the artist publishes under the alias “alva noto”. His sound work is designed on an editing program that does not work in real time and therefore the sound must first be visually drafted in order to be heard. Nicolai considers his work in sound as visual work, he does not make music but instead calls himself a visual composer.
The artist, born in Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1965, has achieved great success with his work. Numerous prizes, almost twenty solo exhibitions in cities ranging from Berlin to Tokyo, Biennales, group exhibitions, as well as alva noto performances in the New York Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou, Kunsthaus Graz, and the Tate Modern. Although his work is appreciated worldwide, he is more concerned with those details, fragments, or parts in which – following the thesis of philosopher Marcello Viccini – all the information of the whole is retained.
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It has the objective to explore the sound
giving to the sensorial organs
not only a passive absorption but
a true organic conscience
of what the sound provokes interacting with themselves.
It is the augmentation of all our senses don't perceive;
to create a physical experience of the intellect
i s m
Definition of de / finita.
Discards perception of meanings
By subtraction of signifiers.
The limit of perception
Which amplifies the essence of perceiving.
White on white.
Of primordial end.
A way for the absolute.
Rooting the Principle for
Eradicate each end:
The detail that highlights
A line aligned.
The way that devours itself
Browsing among ashes of coriander
Looking for the last spark
Which witnesses to the dawn.
Unique and bare of mnemonic alternatives
Must appear any purpose,
Pure and without veils
He must stand up among the dubious temptations
Of scopic cynicism.
Tearing of superfluous.
Virtu of an apparent vacuum.
His alibi fills every distance
The first and the last detritus of each measure.
Decisive and secure advances his pace
Towards the threshold of the imperceptible;
A monochrome exclamation mark
It marks every movement
Contradicting all the potions, every one but no matter what.
Austero confines arrhythmias in sordid volumes,
Melodic natural intensity to harmonize
Tonality of silence reflection timbres.
The frequency of its vibrations
Raises transparent resonances;
Like glass canvases,
Touch the imperceptible
Tinkering with the shaded silhouettes.
A needle at the meridian
At the center of symmetrical geometric projections,
While vertices segments
They twist diaphanous hyperbola
To embellish its reflections.
Micro circumferential points
Align the distances
Emanating one from each center
In the zero of any congruence.
A single axial sigh
For addiction of
Erect stars for the
Fragmentation of glazed horizons.
Caress the vacuum
With sequential perimeters
Between amplitude atonal elevations.
Soaked opaque materials
Highlighting the arts
And crystallized reflections in expanse
Of angled partial divisions.
Spatial functional clarity.
Clear and defined shapes turn around
To the punctuation center of gravity.
Coordination of action for signs
Attesting the total abandonment of illusions.
The comma denies any superficiality
Denouncing her as aberrant infamy,
While the point, motionless,
He oversees the joy of his existence.
Sterilization of Time Codes
For a curvature that reveals the imposition of every distance.
For the delineation of new radial movements:
To the infinite.