The “total art” of Carsten Nicolai

“carsten nicolai’s works are analytical test arrangements. based on the strategies of fragmentation and densification, his works create perceptible and experiential audiovisual signals that demonstrate highly complex processes and natural phenomena.”

Forward to “Anti-Reflex” by Max Hellion

While the significance of cinema as an overarching artistic medium is understood to most who study it, the marriage of audio and visuals is something which is not so popular when carried out through other methods. Film has come to be a story telling medium, but for those who recognize the transcendent nature of audio/visual synthesis, abstract work must often be realized through the installation; a combination of sculpture, photography, sound, architecture, painting, video and almost any other genre of art you may think of. Through the installation, the artist’s expressive boundaries are only marked by his abilities and range of inspiration.

The work of Carsten Nicolai gives a feeling sterility and loneliness upon first impression. They might instill fear because of their seeming lack of emotion or humanity. Though, what must come next is thought and beyond that, meditation. The nature of composition built upon texture and form is to not excite the eyes or ears with overt displays of decoration but to inspire contemplation and reflect the detail of the individual in the emptiness of the structure.

“Carsten Nicolai is not simply a musician or visual artist, nor is he a physicist, scien- tist or mathematician. He is a ‘total artist’ whose diverse media works connect the characteristics of different disciplines with one another. To put it more precisely: by mastering scientific methods from phy- sics, mathematics and (psycho-) acou- stics, in intuitive fashion, he seeks new paths of communication and creation. Consequently, Nicolai’s audiovisual com- positions – or preferably sculptures or sound landscapes – cannot be separated from his visual work”

“Seeing with the Ear: Some Points of Focus in Carsten Nicolai’s Sound Work”  by: Ive Stevenheydens

This video is a profile of Carsten Nicolai. Check out his work and see complete free pdfs of his publications at