alva noto is the stage name for german-born audio-visual artist carsten nicolai.

designboom attended the alva noto live performance at yugong yishan club, beijing on october 28th, 2009

through his insights into hardware, software, mathematics and science, alva noto has found a way to meet sound and light as one energy. ‘I describe what I do as graphic composing,’ nicolai reveals. ‘I’m always thinking in polarities, like yin and yang. I look for visualization tools that create certain images and then build archives of images generated by sound.’

alva noto performs at yugong yishan club, october 09 in beijing


alva noto performs at sonar, june 09 in barcelona

alva noto performs at club transmediale, july 09 in berlin

see more performance videos here

among the many art projects carsten nicolai presented in his lecture at the recent icograda conference in beijing was his installation ‘syn chron‘. it was presented for the first time at new national gallery (designed by mies van der rohe) in berlin in 2005. in this sound installation, a large 14m-wide and 4m-high polyhedron made possible by analyzing a physical crystal system is covered with a new material that has a special honeycomb structure to permeate through image projection, and on its surface are fixed many small special speakers. particle-like images (on six white-laser projectors) synchronize and change with the composition of abstract electronic sounds that frequently use nicolai’s original sign-waves and pulse sounds. thus visitors could experience freely this work and resonance moving about inside and outside the installation.

carsten nicolai was born in 1965 in chemnitz, he lives and works in berlin. carsten nicolai is among the most prominent members of a generation of artists aiming to investigate the interfaces between art, nature and science. working across disciplines as a visual artist, researcher, musician and producer all in one, nicolai aims to surmount the splitting up of human sensual perception and to make palpable, both for our eyes and our senses of hearing and touch, scientific phenomena such as sound and light frequencies or electro-magnetic fields. his installations are characterised by a minimalist aesthetic and captivate us through their elegance, simplicity and technicity. alva noto is his pseudonym.