Timo Kahlen

For more than 25 years, sound sculptor and media artist Timo Kahlen (* 1966 in Berlin) has been working with the ephemeral: with wind and steam, with light and shade, with pixels and dust, with sound, noise and vibration. His work has received nominations for various renowned scholarships and residencies, including the German national “Sound Art Prize“ (2006), the “Stiftung Kunstfonds” (2010), the “Kahnweiler Prize for Sculpture“ (2001) and for the “Prize for Young European Photographers“ (1989); as well as critical recognition at more than 150 exhibitions of contemporary media art since the mid-1980s.

His new interactive work “Articulate”, 2018 is generated as you move your mouse cursor, roll over, pause or click at the sensitive surface of the visual projection on your screen, thereby activating multiple embedded layers of generative sound. It presents: an uncensored dialogue. Pure sound. Enter the dialogue. Go play, and value your freedom of speech. “In fact, it’s quite difficult to be articulate”.


1: The essence of art is to make mistakes.
2: Mistakes are not easily made.
3: Trust me, I’m an artist.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Listening to and recording even the slightest vibration of air, the unexplored sound and static noise of my natural, technological and professional environment. These field recordings of grinding, humming, twittering, singing “noise and beauty” are at the base of my work as a sound artist.

2. How and when did you get into making music?
I’ve been a sound sculptor and media artist for more than 30 years now, initially focussing and inventing new forms of experimental photography (such as Phosphorus Photography in 1987), then developing a long series of “Works with Wind”, acoustic and kinetic site-specific installations based on the currents of artificial wind produced by electrical fans, and simultaneously experimenting with the acoustic, kinetic, and tangible qualities of the sounds created. This led to first conceptual sound sculptures and multi-channel sound installations in the late 1980s, to my series of radiophonic compositions, and to the interactive works of sound art/net art, such as the recent “ARTICULATE”, 2018, which can be seen and heard at http://www.staubrauschen.de/articulate/ .
(The interactive work is available for Mac and PC; unfortunately, not visible or audible on Android and iOS.)

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Next to pre-recorded music, the complex,’live’ soundtracks of Berlin: at dawn, in the early morning, the late afternoon, and at night. All you need to do is listen.

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Berlin is my studio. Complex, bustling and changeable.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Currently, the series of two lakes near Krumme Lanke.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Invent music.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, I believe.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
A rich, warm female voice to contrast with the ‘dirty’, raw and minimalistic acoustic quality of the sound and vibration that I employ in my installations.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
The multi-channel sound sculpture “SWARM”, 2008, in which an agitated, alert swarm of bee sounds floated, meandered and struck out from a monumental (8 meter long) metal block suspended – as if floating – a few inches above the ground, and inducing the surface to vibrate and hum, as visitors approached the object. I installed this sound sculpture for the ‘Scenarios’ exhibition at MANIFESTA 7 Biennial (Italy, 2008) in the courtyard of the 19th century military fortress of Fortezza, blocking the visitor’s entrance to the main exhibition of sound art beyond.
Looking back, I believe that also “VITRINE”, 1991, one cubic meter of an (invisible) storm, only perceptible by the furious sound and the strong vibration of the surface of the transparent glass display case, in which it was enclosed, a work exhibited as part of my “WORKS WITH WIND” solo exhibition founding and initiating the KUNST-WERKE in Berlin, in June 1991, was quite influential.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I dream of sculpting sound with my hands and of throwing it into the air. Until that point, I will be entangled in plugs and cables, shoving pixels.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Family and friends are a great source of inspiration – and critique.

To listen: staubrauschen.de