- Caroline Kurze
Nils Völker is an artist and communication designer based in Berlin. If you listen to what he is doing, it’s not easy to assign him to a specific category. There’s a plethora of terms such as physical computing, robotics, media art, new media art or machine artist. A jumble of words, which all describe the things Nils deals with every day. Everything started with a design degree, today he is an artist. Sometimes he finds it difficult to describe himself as such, because if he says he’s an ‘artist’ some would imagine him in front of a canvas painting a landscape, and this is totally not what he is doing. He prefers to leave the categorization of his art open and let his work speak for itself.
In his studio in Berlin, Friedrichshain we found plenty of electrical accessories, cables and fluorescent tubes, clamps and screws; all things which he is experimenting with to tinker his next installation. Nils often works on the principle of trial and error: let’s put cables together and see what happens. Over time the autodidact developed an expertise which soon led him to exhibitions all over the world.
In addition to his graphic design studies, he began experimenting with robots and was invited by a Dutch artist, to build a machine, which makes it possible to capture the movement of visitors’ pupils and visualize them on canvas. It’s hard to tell where he gets his inspiration for new projects, he calls his approach pragmatic and less conceptual. Due to technical problems an idea automatically develops or he finds a fascinating object, preferably everyday objects, which he reinterprets and then inflates to huge installations, arranging them in a new context. This is also what he did for his large-scale installations constructed out of plastic, light and air. ‘One Hundred and Eight’, created out of ordinary plastic bags became a huge success and has been exhibited in Mannheim, Istanbul and The Hague. Each of his installations has its own characteristic and its beauty and if you listen carefully it seems as if they would begin to breathe, move, and come to life. Despite all the cold technology that holds sway in the background, his works have a very organic and dynamic complexion. By the gigantic multiplication of individual pieces, in the interplay of the installations they develop and aggregate into synchronized movement that is intoxicating and almost meditative. And that is just what he enjoys most: the effect on and the interpretations of visitors who discover new details in his work and open up a new perspective every time.