Carsten Nicolai: Unicolor

Art, Installation Free
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 (Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino
 (Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino
 (Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino
 (Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino
 (Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: 'Unicolor', © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino
 (Carsten Nicolai: ‘Baisatz-Noto’, © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino)
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Carsten Nicolai: ‘Baisatz-Noto’, © the artist. Photo: Jana Chiellino

There’s something colourful going on at the NCP car park on Brewer street.

Maybe a good way to judge the quality of a new work of art is by how many people are willing to ruin your experience by taking a selfie in front of it. By that yardstick, Carsten Nicolai’s ‘Unicolor’ is a fucking masterpiece, because you can’t look at it without some moron standing right in front of you and snapping themselves into a narcissistic aneurysm. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should enjoy art however they bloody want, just don’t make me watch you take 8,000 identically shit pictures of your ugly boyfriend when I’m trying to think big thoughts about pretty colours.

‘Unicolor’ isn’t the only work on show here. The first piece from this awesome German artist and experimental musician is just less selfie-worthy. For ‘Baisatz-Noto’, Nicolai has set up four turntables with locked groove vinyl. These neon-coloured records force the needles to loop back on themselves, making the sounds repeat endlessly. You get to speed them up, slow them down, swap them over – hey presto, you’re a DJ. The sounds are all classic Nicolai – digital hiss, bleeps and bloops – and you’re in charge. Very cool.

But no one gives a shit because they just want a picture of themselves in front of ‘Unicolor’’s amazing flashing lights. The installation is basically a long set of screens, bookended by mirrors so that everything repeats visually off into infinity. Strips of colour float down the screens, morphing as they go. Hues flip from turquoise to aquamarine, yellow to red. Suddenly it all flashes to pure white. Static pulsates gently out of overhead speakers, pitches rise and dip somewhere below you, rumbling and popping.

Nicolai isn’t trying to mess with your eyes or your sense of perception, he’s just letting you experience light and colour. It’s not overwhelming or difficult, it’s just quietly and simply beautiful. Between the head rush of glitched-out audio and the intoxicating purity of light and colour, it’s a little like drifting through all the individual components of a rainbow. You’re just sat there in an infinity of colour. Who needs to taste the rainbow when you can be in it?

Eddy Frankel

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