After its debut in Milan, Carsten Nicolai’s formidable and expandable project unidisplay moved on to Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK). This publication captures the consciousness-altering experiences it offers.
An excursion into scientific discourse, technical experimentation, perception research, architecture, art, and sound, unidisplay is clearly structured, yet challenging for the senses. This book is a further manifestation of the artist and musician’s years of research that have already resulted in benchmark publications such as Grid Index, Moiré Index, cyclo. id: Vol. 1, and syn chron.
The unidisplay project forms a compelling fresco out of physical phenomena, perspectives, and human perception. It consists of a more than 50-meter-long screen on which oscillating visual patterns and large-scale graphic modules are projected. This screen is flanked by two mirrored walls that expand the projections infinitely. The resulting digital (dis)orientation, color effects, flickering, optical illusions, and reflections take our perception to its limits.
In this project, Nicolai aims to not only make varying scales of time—from a second to millions of years—concrete and measurable, but also to give the visual language of symbols its own graphic vocabulary. In the end, he confronts us with optical illusions and their psychological impact, thereby turning his gigantic, abstract artwork into a human laboratory in real time.
Breaking unidisplay down into the various elements of which it is composed, the book’s 88 pages include a gatefold covered with a reflective foil to simulate the experience of viewing it live. In this way, the publication allows readers to disentangle the project’s concentrated sensory flood layer by layer. In the process, they not only gain insight into Nicolai’s impressive visual theories, but also into their own perceptions—and how they might lead them astray.
About the Artist:
Born in Germany in 1965, Carsten Nicolai is an artist, composer, musician, and master of installation art. He explores scientific reference systems and creates bridges between images and sound as well as art and science. Nicolai’s holistic, often minimalistic approach explores the boundaries and creative potential of codes, mathematical models, encrypted formulas, and other logical systems that give structure to our world.
Nicolai creates work that is shown at international art events including documenta X and the Venice Biennial. He also creates sound experiments—often in collaboration with musicians such as Ryoji Ikeda or Blixa Bargeld—that he releases on his own label, raster-noton.