carsten nicolai

curriculum vitae

Carsten Nicolai, born 1965 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, is a German artist and musician based in Berlin. He is part of an artist generation who works intensively in the transitional area between music, art and science. In his work he seeks to overcome the separation of the sensory perceptions of man by making scientific phenomenons like sound and light frequencies perceivable for both eyes and ears. Influenced by scientific reference systems, Nicolai often engages mathematic patterns such as grids and codes, as well as error, random and self-organizing structures. His installations have a minimalistic aesthetic that by its elegance and consistency is highly intriguing. After his participation in important international exhibitions like documenta X and the 49th and 50th Venice Biennale, Nicolai’s works were shown worldwide in extensive solo and group exhibitions.

His artistic œuvre echoes in his work as a musician. For his musical outputs he uses the pseudonym Alva Noto. With a strong adherence to reductionism he leads his sound experiments into the field of electronic music creating his own code of signs, acoustics and visual symbols. Together with Olaf Bender and Frank Bretschneider he is co-founder of the label 'raster-noton. archiv für ton und nichtton'. Diverse musical projects include remarkable collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ryoji Ikeda (cyclo.), Blixa Bargeld or Mika Vainio. Nicolai toured extensively as Alva Noto through Europe, Asia, South America and the US. Among others, he performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. Most recently Nicolai scored the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s newest film, 'The Revenant' which has been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice Award.


lives and works in Berlin and Chemnitz, Germany
1965born in Karl-Marx-Stadt, GDR
1985-90Study of landscape architecture. Dresden, Germany
1992Co-founder of the project Voxxx-Kultur- und Kommunikationszentrum, Chemnitz, Germany
1994Foundation of noton.archiv für ton und nichtton
1999Label fusion to raster-noton
2015Professorship in art with focus on digital and time-based media, Dresden Academy of Fine Arts

Prizes / Scholarships

201417th Japan Media Arts Festival, Grand Prize (Art Division), Japan (crt mgn installation)
2012Giga-Hertz-Award, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany (cyclo. id publication with ryoji ikeda)
2007Villa Massimo, Rome, Italy
 Zurich Prize, Zurich, Switzerland
2003Villa Aurora, Los Angeles, USA
2001prize ars electronica, golden nica, Linz, Austria (polar installation with marko peljhan)
2000f6-philip morris, graphic prize, Dresden, Germany
 prize ars electronica, golden nica, Linz, Austria (20' to 2000 project)
1990Jürgen Ponto prize, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Artworks in Public Space

2015chroma actor, Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
2011lfo spectrum, Olympic Park, London, UK
2010monitor, Siobhan Davies Studios, London, UK
 autor, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany (temporary)
2009poly stella, Kasumigaseki Building Plaza, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
 pionier ll, Piazza Plebiscito, Naples, Italy (temporary)
2006polylit, Kleiner Schlossplatz, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany
2005frequenz (milch), Tramhaltestelle, Hauptbahnhof Leipzig, Germany

Solo Exhibitions (selection)

2017parallax, ichihara lakeside museum, ichihara
 unicolor, galerie eigen + art leipzig, germany
 autonomo, ibid gallery, los angeles
2016black absorb pol, seibu shibuya, tokyo
 unidisplay, copenhagen contemporary, copenhagen
 reflektor distortion, galerie eigen + art berlin, germany
2015unitape, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz
 unidisplay, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
 unicolor, The Vinyl Factory, London
 ur-geräusch, Kunstverein Braunschweig
 strange attractors, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul
2014alpha pulse, ICC International Commerce Center Hong Kong, Art|Basel|Hong Kong
 unidisplay, SonarPLANTA, The Sorigué Foundation, Barcelona
2013empty garden, the hole gallery, prague, czech republic
 crt mgn, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, germany
 observatory, ibid projects, london, uk
 unidisplay/uni(psycho)acoustic, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2012unidisplay, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montréal, Canada / HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy
 schatten loop, cos store, berlin (in collaboration with cos)
2011pionier, CAC, vilnius, lithuania / Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, Germany / The Pace Gallery, New York, USA
 filter, house of art, budweis, czech republic
 unitxt mirrored, galleria lorcan o'neill, rome, italy
2010polar m [mirrored] with marko peljhan, YCAM, yamaguchi, japan
 scaler, hendrik christian andersen museum, rome, italy
 MAGA, museo arte gallarate, italy
 autor, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany
 moiré, The Pace Gallery, New York, USA
 anti reflex, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain
 rota, Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany
2009aoyama space, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria
 rota, Schering Stiftung, Berlin, Germany
 unitxt, SKETCH, London, UK
2008anti reflex, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany
 tired light, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany
2007static fades, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland / PaceWildenstein, New York, USA
2006inver, Frieze Art Fair, London, UK
 inver, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, Germany
2005audio visual spaces, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Gent, Belgium
 anti reflex, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
 syn chron, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany / Bern, Schwitzerland / Yamaguchi, Japan
2003funken, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany
 modular re.struct, Poalo Curti/Annamaria Gambuzzi & Co, Milan, Italy
2002parallel lines cross at infinity, WATARI-UM, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2001Milch, London, UK
2000ystad kunsthalle, Ystad, Sweden
 polar, canon artlab 10 (with Marko Peljan), Tokyo, Japan
19991% space, Copenhagen, Denmark
1998polyfoto, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, Germany
1996Leonhardi-Museum, Dresden, Germany
 The New York Kunsthalle, New York, USA
1995Galerie Margrit Gass, Basel, Switzerland
 Kunstverein Konstanz, Germany
1994Espace des Arts, Chalon-Sur-Saône, France
 Kunstverein Ulm, Germany
 Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany
1993Städtische Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany
1992Galerie Springer, Berlin, Germany
1991"Magica ll", Lichtinstallation, Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany
1986"Der Keller", Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, Germany

Group Exhibitions (selection)

2017"extended compositions", pasquart kunsthaus centre d’art, biel
2016"datumsoria", chronus art center, shanghai
 "resound", simons center for geometry and physics, new york city
 "on surface", lehmbruck museum, duisburg
 "ghost in the machine - reading room/ materials selected by carsten nicolai", eigen + art lab, berlin
 "wrap around the time", nam june paik art center, gyeonggi-do
 "mam screen 003: crossing visions", mori art musuem, tokyo
 "open house", ibid gallery, los angeles
 "otic", new media gallery, vancouver
2015"Eppur si muove", Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
 "Walk the Line/Neue Wege der Zeichnung", Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
 "Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty", Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
 "Listening to the Lines", Maison Hermès Ginza le Forum, Tokyo
 "Quantum of Disorder", Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich
 "Extended Compositions", Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin
2014National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
 "Reines Wasser", LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz
 "One Place Next To Another", Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow
 "Art or Sound", Prada Foundation, Venice
 "City and Nature", Sapporo International Art Festival
2013"soundings: a contemporary score", MoMA, new york city, usa
 "arctic", louisiana museum of modern art, kopenhagen, denmark
 "noise", de arte assoziazione, venice, italy
 "fragile?", fondazione giorgio cini, vencie, italy
 "System und Sinnlichkeit", Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Germany
2012"a house full of music", Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, Germany
 "Rasterfahndung", Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany
 "Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art", ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
 "Echigo Tsumari Triennial 2012", echigo-tsumari art center, tokamachi, japan
 "Art & Music. Search for a new synestesia", mot, toyko, japan
2011"our magic hour", Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama, Japan
2010"seconde nature", Fondation Vasarely, Aix en Provence, France
 "Rudolf Steiner und die Kunst der Gegenwart", Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany
 "Biennale für Internationale Lichtkunst", Unna, Germany
2009"barock", Madre, Naples, Italy
 "see this sound", Kunstmuseum Linz, Austria
 "4th digital art festival taipei", Digital Arts Centre, Taipei, Taiwan
 "the kaleidoscopic eye", MORI Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2008"leben", Kunsthaus Graz, Austria
 "open space", NTT Intercommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo, Japan
 "art on air", Weserburg - Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany
20072nd Moskow Biennale, Moskow, Russia
 "Konstellationen ll", Städel Museum, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
 "MARTa schweigt", MARTa Herford, Germany
 "Space for your future", Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2006Singapore Biennal, Singapore
 "Still Points of the Turning World", 6th Int. Biennale Santa Fe/New Mexico, USA
 "sonambiente 2006", TESLA, Berlin, Germany
2005"Künstler.Archiv", Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
2004"Densité ±0", École nationale des beaux arts, Paris, France / Fribourg, Switzerland
2003La Biennale di Venezia 50, Venice, Italy
 "Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000", Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany / Moscow, Russia
 "echigo tsumari triennial 2003", echigo tsumari region niigata prefecture, Japan
 The 10th New York Digital Saloon, New York, USA
2002"frequenzen (hz)", Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2001"Wild Zone", Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands
 "Perspectives", MICAMOCA, Milan, Italy
 La Biennale di Venezia 49, Venice, Italy
 "Quobo, Art in Berlin 89-99", Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany
 Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
 "Audible Images", The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA
2000"Sound Art", NTT InterCommunication Center, Gallery A, Tokyo, Japan
 "Volume", PS 1, New York, USA
 Taktlos, Bern, Switzerland
1999"Examining Pictures: exhibiting paintings", Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK / Museum Of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA
 "Empty Garden", WATARI-UM, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
 Liverpool Biennial, UK
1997documenta X, Kassel, Germany
 P.S.1 reopening, New York, USA
1996"Projektor"(with Olaf Nicolai), Städtisches Kunstmuseum Reutlingen, Germany
 "all+tag" (with Mika Vainio), Industriemuseum Chemnitz, Germany / u.a
1994"Welt-Moral", Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland
 "Metropole und Peripherie", Museum de Arte Moderna MAM, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1993"Ein Jahrhundert des Holzschnitts", Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany
 "Cadavre Exquis", Drawing Center, New York, USA