(Continued from World Design Congress 2009: Day three. Written at the time, last October.)
As noted, I’ve followed Carsten Nicolai’s work for years, so it was a pleasure to see — and hear — him in the flesh. Nicolai, aka Alva Noto, is one of the stalwarts of the avant-garde electronica/noise/sound scene, but also works as a visual artist, as we’ll see.
For some time before the scheduled start, there are clearly set up issues with Herr Nicolai’s equipment. There is lots of quiet, concentrated discussion around the projector and sound set up. The projector resolution doesn't seem sharp at all, and worried-looking young organisers are all talking into headsets, making agitated waves up to the AV booth at the back of the auditorium. Throughout, Nicolai is calm and considered but insistent. With little else to look at, I note that he’s an elegant dresser - loose, dark wool flared trousers, grey top, deep burgundy scarf, impeccable white Adidas.
Finally, everything is good enough. The projector still isn’t as sharp as it needs to be, but Nicolai starts with a short video ... It’s a crisp glitch piece, with patterns of dots on screen. Then the fizz and static and rumble of a distant roar, until visual and aural static takes over. It’s the kind of start I’d expected, and a good one.