Ralf Baecker - profile, digital computer art, new media art, installations

Ralf Baecker

Germany 1977

Installation, Digital Art, Computer Art, New Media Art


Ralf Baecker
Ralf Baecker
August 29, 2015

Ralf Baecker is a German artist and programmer, whose work is focused towards installations and machines which explore the poetic and artistic potential of technology. With a background in computer science, Baecker unfolds the various processes that occur underneath the interfaces of common devices and systems, turning the machines inside out and revealing its ways of working. The artist creates installations in which the user is confronted with a machine that is not under control of its own, but rather engaged in processual existence that occurs between the machine and the viewer. By translating formal systems into physical processes, Ralf Baecker investigates the relation between thinking and the world.

Ralf Baecker - The Conversation, 2009 - Solenoids and Rubberbands, computer art
Ralf Baecker – The Conversation, 2009 – Solenoids and Rubberbands

The Intersection of Art and Technology

Born in 1977 in Düsseldorf, Germany, Ralf Baecker has always been fascinated with science and technology. He became specifically interested in the computer science in the decade of 1990s, when this area of technology was at its beginning. Baecker enrolled into the University of Cologne in 1999, with Computer Science as his major. In 2007, Ralf received a diploma from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, where he studied audiovisual media at the Media Art Department.

Baecker is also a renowned teacher. Since 2007, he is working as an independent artist and teaches courses at various art schools in Germany and Europe – at the University of the Arts Bremen, College of Fine Art in Kassel, the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and ArzEZ in Arnhem, Netherlands.

Rechnender Raum: Inverted System of Computing Space

In 2007, Baecker created Rechnender Raum – the inverted machine that is built as a fully functional digital computational automaton or the logic exact neural network, in other words. The machine is made as a light-weight sculpture, with skeleton-like frame structure constructed from sticks, strings and little plumbs.

The main idea behind a machine is that the core of the Rechnender Raum is inverted and moved outwards on the surface, while the display which shows the results of the tasks is displaced into the center of the system. Through its precise geometric and fragile filigree-like construction, the viewer is able to track the way of logical process from every viewpoint around the machine, following the runs of computing. Nevertheless, the inverted system turns away from the observer and carries out its computations only for itself, hidden from the human eye. In this way, Baecker makes a paradox – by making a digital process completely transparent, the result can no longer be seen.

Ralf Baecker - Inverted Machine - Installation view, Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007, computer art
Ralf Baecker – Rechnender Raum (Inverted Machine) – Installation view, Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007

Irrational Computing and Mirage

Irrational Computing, created in 2011, represents an artistic exploration of materials, aesthetics and potentials of digital processes. Baecker developed a system of electronic circuits that use raw natural minerals like silicon carbide, galena, pyrite, and quartz. Utilizing minerals’ specific electronic properties, the artist bypassed the use of common industrial produced semi conducting components like diodes, transistors, ICs or LEDs to form a kind of primitive macroscopic signal processor. The Irrational Computing system consists of five interlinked modules in total, which use the varied electrical and mechanical particularities and characteristics of crystals and minerals.

Ralf Baecker - Irrational Computing, 2011 - Crystal Field Oscillator, computer art
Ralf Baecker – Irrational Computing, 2011 – Crystal Field Oscillator

Baecker’s latest work, called Mirage, is a projection apparatus that utilizes the principles from optics and artificial neural network research. The Mirage machine generates a synthesized landscape through a fluxgate magnetometer, registering the magnetic field of the earth and projecting the image of its unique algorithm on the wall.

Ralf Baecker - Mirage, 2014 - view from the back
Ralf Baecker – Mirage, 2014 – view from the back

Other significant works and installations by Ralf Baecker include The Conversation (2009), Crystal Set (2011), Nowhere (2004), Counter (2006), Meinstein Neukölln (2011), and The Discrete Channel With Noise (2013).

VIDA Awards and Other Recognitions

Baecker’s works have been critically acclaimed through many different recognitions and honors. The artist has received several international awards, such as an honorary mention of the Prix Ars Electronica Linz in both 2012 and 2015, the second prize of the VIDA 14.0 Art & Artificial Life Award Madrid, Spain, and the stipend of the Edith-Russ-Site for Media Art Oldenburg and DOCK e.V./Schering Stiftung, Berlin.

Two of Baecker’s projects have been critically recognized at the VIDA Art and Artificial Life International Awards – The Conversation received a Special Mention in VIDA 13.0, while Irrational Computing has earned the Second Prize in VIDA 14.0.

Exhibitions and NOME Representation

Baecker’s unique installations and machines have been presented to a general public at several international art venues, galleries and festivals, such as International Triennial of New Media Art at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, China, Malmö Konsthall in Sweden, Künstlerhaus Wien in Austria, ZKM Karlsruhe and Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin in Germany, Center for Contemporary Art WINZAVOD in Moscow, Russia, and Laboral Centro de Arte Gijon in Spain.

Since 2015, Ralf Baecker is represented by NOME art gallery, located in Berlin.

Ralf Baecker lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015OK - CyberArts 2015, Prix Ars Electronica ExhibitionOK Center, Linz, ATGroup
2015The Secret of the MachinesKapelica Gallery, Ljubljana, SLOSolo
2014International Triennial of New Media Art 2014: thingWorldIrrational Computing, National Art Musuem of China, Beijing, CNGroup
2014Obsessive SensingMirage, LEAP, Berlin DEGroup
2014Dernières Nouvelles de L’ÉtherCrystal Set, La Panacée, Montpellier FRGroup
2013ArtHackDay – Going DarkLEAP, Berlin DE Group
2013In Search for Precise PleasuresRechnender Raum, Crystal Set LEAP, Berlin DESolo
2013Conversations ÉlectriquesThe Conversation, La Panacée Centre de culture Contemporaine, Montpellier FRGroup
2013Rauchwolken und LuftschlösserRechnender Raum, Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst Bremen DE Group
2012A Matter of Feeling – META.MORF 2012Irrational Computing, TEKS Trondheim NOGroup
2012synergy – Lexus Hybrid ArtIrrational Computing, ARTPLAY, Moscow RU Group
2012DEAF 2012 THE POWER OF THINGSIrrational Computing, Dutch Electronic Art Festival, RotterdamGroup
2012THE CRYSTAL WORLD - CTM.12Irrational Computing, Kunstraum Kreuzberg-Bethanien, Berlin DEGroup
2011Irrational ComputingIrrational Computing, Schering Stiftung, Berlin DESolo
2011re-active platformre-active platform, MOCA Studio, Taipei TW Group
2011Produced @ 10 Jahre Stipendium für MedienkunstCrystal Set, Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg DE Group
2011Kunstfrühling 2011 BremenThe Conversation, Gleishalle am Güterbahnhof, Bremen DEGroup
2011Life: Science versionRechnender Raum, Center for Contemporary Art WINZAVOD, Moscow RU Group
2010NODE10 – Forum for digital artsThe Conversation, Frankfurter Kunstverin, Frankfurt am Main DEGroup
2010META.MORF 2010 – New.Brave.WorldThe Conversation, TEKS, Trondheim NOGroup
2010WeltWissen. 300 Jahre Wissenschaften in BerlinRechnender Raum, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin DEGroup
2010Space Inventions. Der künstliche RaumRechnender Raum, Künstlerhaus, Wien ATGroup
2010When Process becomes ParadigmThe Conversation, Laboral Centro de Arte, Gijon ES Group
2010Sonic Acts XIII – The Poetics of SpaceRechnender Raum, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam NL Group
2010re-active platformcoincidence detector, glasmoog, Köln DEGroup
2009SHARE FESTIVAL – Experiences in digital art & cultureRechnender Raum, Turin, ITGroup
2009genau. mathematische Strategien und künstlerische ProzesseThe Conversation, Künstlerhaus Dortmund, DEGroup
2009Rechnender RaumRechnender Raum, Kunstverein, Bochum, DESolo
200932. Bremer Förderpreis für Bildende Kunst 2008NOWHERE, Städtische Galerie im Buntentor, Bremen, DE Group
2008Electrohype 2008 – the fifth biennial for computer based and technological artRechnender Raum, Konsthall, Malmö SEGroup
2008CYNETart 08Rechnender Raum, Festspielhaus Hellerau, Dresden Group
2008Artbots 2008Rechnender Raum,Science Gallery, Dublin IEGroup
2008Zur Zeit – Kunsthochschule für Medien KölnZähler-Counter, Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz A Group
2007LAB30Rechnender Raum, Lab30, Kulturbüro AugsburgGroup
2007Wolfgang von Kempelen. Mensch-[in der]-MaschineZähler-Counter, ZKM Medienmuseum, KarlsruheGroup
2007Rechnender RaumRechnender Raum, Moltkerei Werkstatt e.V., KölnSolo
2007From Reality and BackNOWHERE, Mejan Labs, StockholmGroup
2006NOWHERE #4NOWHERE, Melkweg Amsterdam, AmsterdamSolo
2006ZählerZähler, Künstlerverein Malkasten, DüsseldorfSolo
2006autopsía – Sonderausstellung der KHMNOWHERE, Art Cologne 2006Group
2006Altitude 06Zähler + NOWHERE, Academy of Media Arts, CologneGroup
2006INTERMEZZONOWHERE, Academy of Media Arts, CologneGroup
2005Expanded Arts No. 2interFace, Kunstverein GüterslohGroup
2005Helden der KünsteinterFace, EMAF, OsnabrückGroup
2004Expanded ArtsinterFace, Art Cologne 2004Group
2004Altitude 04interFace, Academy of Media Arts, CologneGroup
2003Transcodex (Boston CyberArts Festival)iNoise, Boston University Art GalleryGroup