The Artistic Inventor: Talking with Rainer Kohlberger

04.04.12 | By: Natascha Fuchs

(c) Rainer Kohlberger

Rainer Kohlenberger was born in Linz, Austria, and now lives as a freelance video artist and designer in Berlin. His art is based on abstract images algorithmically adapted to noise aesthetics. Rainer's artworks are mainly presented in form of installations and live visuals, as well as mobile applications (his “field” won the ZKM App Art Award for the artistic inventions). The best way to get a glimpse of Rainer's creativity is to visit his website and see his new artwork at the sound:frame Festival "substructions" exhibition at MAK Museum in Vienna (12.04.2012 - 29.04.2012).

When you call yourself visual artist and designer, what is behind both identities for you? 

It's mainly a vague description for the two fields i see myself in. Visual Arts on the one hand, where I create works for galleries or when I perform live. The other profession I am interested in is design, it's widest possible conception, where I am mostly working on doing commissioned commercial work. But if you look at my works, you will find that the two fields are totally blurring into each other. And I consider myself very lucky - most of the time in the last years it was possible to work without constraints also in commercial jobs, i.e. a light sculpture I did for a big German company last year. Maybe it's time to drop these definitions sooner or later.
What was your first audiovisual live performance and your impressions of the process? 
Hmm as far as I can remember it must have been "Super 8 performance" on a rather small stage nearby Linz when I was 20 or so. I was buying lots of Super 8 films off eBay and created loops out of them. Must have been weird, Charlie Chaplin mixed with family birthdays. My art process can be pretty much summed up with one word: experimental. I am constantly working in a principle of trial and error, with some vague idea of what I want to achieve. On the way there sometimes I have a very clear idea what I want, often I use tools the wrong way and make a lot of errors. For the final work there is a selection process where all the stuff that feels right gets in and most of the stuff goes to the can. All software based.

You have some experience of teaching media arts. Is it difficult to develop media art course interesting for students?

No, that's quite easy these days. It's getting more and more common that artists and designers are able to write and think with code or use other complex technical equipment. So it only depends if the student understands that he or she shouldn't be interested in learning a specific tool but thinking about a good small idea or some other strong concept rather than having the most impressing technical implementation. The ones that very able to get this created some very nice works.

Why did you move to Berlin from Austria? 

First of all I just had to leave Salzburg where I studied as soon as possible. Because I couldn't stand it there anymore, it's a more a museum than a city. But it was also more of a smooth transition as I was already involved in 2 audiovisual projects there that I was doing together with Claudia Rohrmoser. I stayed in Berlin for a summer, loved it and returned the next one. Simple.

What is your artwork for sound:frame Festival exhibition about? Could you give some foreword about it to the festival visitors?

One thing that might be interesting to know is that I guess I work more like a musician. But instead of composing audible music I am applying my methods and structure on images and sound. The term Visual Music that emerged a couple of decades ago perfectly fits. I am heavily influenced by concrete art, op art and noise aesthetics. I want the spectator to concentrate for real on perceiving my artwork. If you stand far away, it might seem there's not so much going on. But if you stand in front of it, you will find lots and lots of details. And if you really want to get them, you have to keep looking at the canvas what might not be easy all the time.

More information about sound:frame Festival's "substructions" exhibition here:

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