Finalist Tilman Küntzel’s fallen chandelier

International Light Art Award - ILAA 9. Februar 2017

International Light Art Award – ILAA 2017 finalist Tilman Küntzel about his concept

I have been creating audiovisual installations ever since my time as a Fine Arts student at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg. I am interested in stimulating all the senses of people who experience my work, and I want them to be immersed in the work of art. By moving through the space people can determine their own perceptual process. I prefer to use dynamic algorithms from “found” control components, as in this installation for Unna, in which one experiences randomly generated movements of light and percussive sounds.

Why do you work with opposing concepts like crash and control or accident and intent?

The era of the Anthropocene is defined by control. Humankind aims to control nature, machines, and itself. Everything should be calculable. In contrast, a mistake or a malfunction is something subversive, something anarchical that escapes control and autonomously determines its owns processes. I am interested in how the dynamic of a malfunction develops in the sense of fostering aleatoric compositions and improvisation. A malfunction has its own aesthetic. Exploring and articulating this are important aspects of my practice.

Are the quiet and irregular switching sounds a significant part of your audiovisual installation?

The audiovisual installation for Unna is based on a sonification of a controlling system causing the flickering of forty light bulbs within a fallen chandelier. Twenty interconnected starters, similar those commonly found in fluorescent tubes, generate an irregular light rhythm. This occurs by means of bimetallic strips which are heated up in a tube and thus come in contact with one another in rapid sequence. This process is audible. Each starter generates its own rhythm, which has a different sound depending on the brand, make-up, and degree of wear of the starters. I first listen to a lot of starters before I use them for an installation (in the sense of “composing”).Your works are site-specific.

What makes the space at the Centre for International Light Art Unna a perfect spot for this artwork?

Its history. As John Jaspers once said, my work is about “storytelling.” The vaulted ceilings of the underground space remind me of an experience deep in the salt mines of Wieliczka, Poland (today a museum), where the miners had dug sixty- to eighty-meter long chapels and halls. One large space is decorated with an ornate chandelier made of salt crystals.
The vaulted underground space of the museum used to serve another purpose. This is a place where people worked, where things were produced and stored. With its lively play of lights and animated sounds, the fallen chandelier sparks visitors’ imaginations, encouraging people to develop their own stories about the place where the work unfolds.