With roughly forty multimedia works, the exhibition provides an overview of the oeuvre of the artist and musician Carsten Nicolai, who has been active at the interface of visual art, music, and natural science since the early 1990s. Using electronic sound and light material, Carsten Nicolai creates minimalist installations, sound performances, and visualizations of physical phenomena that reflect systems and structures of the media world. As a musician working under the pseudonym Alva Noto, Nicolai is one of the best-known representatives of contemporary electronic music. Since his participation in documenta X in 1997 and the Venice Biennale in 2001 and 2003, his works in the field of visual art has also been exhibited worldwide.
In K21, Nicolai organizes the expansive space on the lower floor as an open, dually laid out setting for the presentation of his works, many of which are designed for interaction. The title of the exhibition, “Parallax Symmetry”, alludes to the physical phenomenon of a parallax (from Old Greek parállaxis, “change, moving back and forth”), which describes the apparent change in the position of an object when the point of observation shifts. The symmetry of the exhibition is derived from the polarity of black and white, as well as of light and dark, processed in different ways. Light and darkness, sound and silence, visibility and invisibility are contrasting pairs which Nicolai uses productively in his artistic practice. The soberly elegant aesthetics of the objects and installations often conceal a complex functional context that refers to technical and physical experimental procedures and often also to historical aspects of scientific research.
Carsten Nicolai, born 1965 in Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz), lives and works in Berlin.