Ralf Baecker (DE) Interface I

Installation, 2016

Interface I investigates the boundary between two interacting systems rendered into the physical. One system is a compound of motors, strings and elastic bands arranged horizontally. The two units face each other vertically. Each motor of one level (top, bottom) is connected to its opposite with a string, meeting in between. Both motors pull their strings in the opposite direction (as in a tug of war). At the junction of the strings, a mesh of elastic bands connects the string to its neighbours. The mesh couples each element to its surrounding elements in order to achieve a local emergent behaviour. In order to excite (stimulate) the system’s behaviour, each motor is fed with random impulses of different pulling strength. Random signals are taken from a number of Geiger-Müller tubes used as an entropy source. The Geiger-Müller tubes pick up the natural ambient radiation of the Earth. This noise acts as a catalyst that enables the systems to change.

As the process begins the systems start to negotiate an interface / boundary surface (Grenzfläche) between the two separate organisations. The behaviour of this system is not programmed or choreographed, the shapes and behaviour develop due to the interactions of the many individual elements. Depending on the force distribution of the opposing motors, the units move either upwards or downwards. At the same time the overall forces of the neighbouring elements influence this movement and vice versa.

Interface I investigates complex interactions of entities in some kind of encapsulated space. Complex and emergent behaviour appears on different scales and in different realms, ranging from biology, social science, computer science, anthropology to economics and politics. By taking away any references to something in the world, Interface allows manifold interpretations. The installation takes a closer look at the construction of digital images. Here the focus is on the relation of the almost infinitely fast signals / switching operations in the materials of the machine and the stable / static / ordered images appearing on the outside. Interface I removes the distinction between process and display (output) by making the display (the mesh or rubber bands) the crucial part that defines the outcome of the process (behaviour).

Represented by NOME Gallery.

Produced by NOME Gallery, Berlin 2016 (4.80 meter version) and the Graduate School of the University of the Arts, Berlin (3.20 meter version) with support of the Einstein Foundation.

Production assistant: Antje Weller.

Research and experiments essential to the realization of Interface I were carried out within the framework of Ralf Baecker’s research project Time of Non-Reality at the Graduate School at the University of the Arts, Berlin.

Ralf Baecker (DE)

Ralf Baecker is an artist working at the interface of art, science and technology. Through installations and machines, Baecker explores fundamental mechanisms of new media and technologies. In his representations and specializations of digital and technological processes he offers a poetic view behind the surfaces of contemporary image making.

Baecker has been awarded multiple prizes and grants for his artistic work, including the grand prize of the Japan Media Art Festival in 2017, an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2012 and 2014, the second prize at the VIDA 14.0 | Art and Artificial Life International Awards in Madrid, the Stiftung Niedersachsen work stipend for Media Art 2010 and the stipend of the Graduate School for the Arts from the University of the Arts in Berlin and the Einstein Foundation.

His work has been presented in international festivals and exhibitions, such as the International Triennial of New Media Art 2014 in Beijing, Vienna Künstlerhaus, ZKM in Karlsruhe, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Moscow Contemporary Art Center Winzavod, LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gijón, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo and Kasseler Kunstverein in Kassel.

Since 2016 he has taught at the University of the Arts Bremen in the Digital Media program.

contact: rlfbckr@gmail.com