Since his game-changing decision to leave communication design and move on to experimenting with technology-based art, Nils Völker has been busy collecting the fame. Back then, an unsuspicious LEGO set instigated a complete change in his approach to creating.
Having discovered particular fondness for everyday objects, programming and building machines, he implemented it in his practice and started making large-scale sculptures and site-specific kinetic installations to investigate mechanical rhythm. In his latest creation, Nils took another familiar mass product – a colorful spherical toy, officially called Hoberman Sphere – to create a playful and poetic moving installation in harmony with the exhibition space of the gallery NOME.
His ongoing show, "Bits and Pieces", transforms the gallery into a space where colorful spheres mobilized by machine create a perfectly timed performance. One hundred and eight of these simple plastic pieces hang from the ceiling, attached to a motor system that moves them in a wave-like choreography by expanding and contracting each sphere.
Since 2010 the artist has been working on a series of "choreographed breathing" installations - mostly consisting of matrix of cushions of different sizes and materials which inflate and deflate in controlled rhythms, and continued his previous work in this new installation. "Bits and Pieces" seem to be bringing a breath of fresh spring air, evoking the movements and colors of flowers in bloom.
It is somehow mesmerising seeing an object we were attached to when we were too young to care about its non-functionality, poor economic worth, or dubious conditions of hyperproduction, being given a new purpose and a new value, and actually becoming magical again. It connects us to the idea that any regular thing can become irregular; any small irrelevant thing can be given multitude of meanings in an endless variety of constellations.
A batch of discarded plastic can speak volumes when brought into the right setting. It took an entirely different kind of thing – an electronic device, highly sophisticated in comparison to a simple toy, and purely practical in an industrial, boringly predictable kind of way – to breathe life into these little colorful wonders.
By choosing an easily relatable everyday object, and one that reconnects us with our most experimental and most exciting period in life (referring to early childhood – not the "just-moved-to-Berlin" phase), the artist shows us what he incidentally found out himself and never looked at things the same way again – that we need to shut down our preconception of what things are and what they should be, and just experiment a little.
And now, scale it down or up, project it onto anything from the most banal to the most meaningful, and wait until that little jolt of freedom hits you.
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Nils Völker: "Bits and Pieces" @ NOME
Open through 15/04
NOME / Dolziger Str. 31, 10247 Berlin, U Samariterstr.