Carsten Nicolai works with oppositional forces. Culling a distinctive vision from inspirations both sonic and scientific, his conceptual, large-scale works provide dramatic visualizations of frequencies, ultimately allowing the work to create a voice for itself. “I want the visuals to perform,” he explains.
The installation artist often produces music under the name Alva Noto, and runs the label Raster-Norton with his friend Olaf Bender. The team’s projects experiment with the fusion of sound, art and design.
Nicolai’s work embraces the tension inherent in accidents. In our video profile of the Creator (above), he explains that glitches often corrupt his data in fresh and exciting ways. “Defective elements are used as a basis for music,” Nicolai says. “You have no control of what’s happening. There is something going wrong, obviously, but it’s really exciting.”
And in his explorations of sounds and visuals, Nicolai works to break down some unfair assumptions his audience might have. “The idea of electronic music being cold and lacking emotion has to do with people’s habits when it comes to music." Nicolai is aware that some of his projects have disproven that unfair conception–namely, his collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, in which “strong emotional situations were created.”
Carsten Nicolai’s pionier I exhibition is coming to The Pace Gallery in New York City next Friday, September 23. The installation features a white silk parachute’s expansion and contraction.
Nicolai is fascinated by contradictions. “We humans try more and more to enable machines to think, but at the same time, we try to become more and more mechanic. It’s fantastic in a way, that we permanently expose ourselves to that polarity and conflict."