CHRISTOPHER BAUDER

15/05/2024
Thunder and lightning, the sun and the moon, Bauder and Kraftwerk: all are inextricably intertwined. Returning for his third installation in the former power plant, the kinetic lighting pioneer spoke to us about VEKTOR, his relationship to the iconic venue Kraftwerk and collaborating with other visionaries.

Interview by Aoife Brady

01

The soundscape and lighting show you created for VEKTOR are perpetual, without beginning or end. But what was the starting point for this installation?

The starting point for VEKTOR was deeply personal for me: Turning 50 last year made me reflect on my life, and I found myself looking back on my memories, like growing up in the countryside in southern Germany and later moving to Berlin for my studies in the 90s.

Berlin is my home now, but when I need to calm my mind, I often think of the green fields of my childhood, the sunsets, the forest, and being on the lake in a boat. Returning to that place today, I don't feel the same as I did back then; I am a different person now. However, the memories are still vivid and meaningful to me. With VEKTOR, I wanted to recreate some of these memories through abstract sketches made with laser lights, music, and movement. While I don't expect the audience to feel, understand, or see exactly what I am referring to, I aim to give them small impulses to activate their "processors" – the picture and memory machine in our brains – to create their own illustrations, feelings, and emotions.

The idea for VEKTOR had been growing in my head for years - in essence, the starting point for VEKTOR was a journey back to my roots, a way to reconnect with my past and share a piece of my personal history with the audience through light, sound, and movement. 

02

VEKTOR is a deeply personal show, and the technology that made it possible took 5 years for WHITEvoid to develop. You are even modulating the lighting installation yourself during the live performances. How do your chosen performers fit into this personal story and enhance the visitor experience?

Creating the music for VEKTOR was an essential part of the process for me as it was the very first time I created the soundscape for one of my installations myself. I have worked with insanely talented and famous music producers like Robert Henke and Kangding Ray on previous projects, but this time I wanted to try something new and also gain more control over the audio patterns.

For the 6 sold out VEKTOR Live Shows I wanted to make sure, every single one of them was unique, even though we were following the same sequence of songs each time. So what better way to get live support from people who are visionaries in their field of expertise: We had previously worked together with Vox on one of our DARK MATTER seasonal installation SOMMERLIGHTS, so I knew her otherworldly voice and way she can creates emotions with it would be an amazing addition for this projects well. Maarten Vos, our cellist, also brought knowledge in live sound modulation, which was adding even another layer to the live soundscape. 

Last but not least, Jan Urbiks who was playing the drums during the live shows is specialized in spatiality in electronic music and the effects of immersive sound on rhythm. This was a great match, as we, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute, already created a 3D soundscape which was moving around the venue for VEKTOR as an installation.  

03

This is the third exhibition you have housed in Kraftwerk. It feels like a triangle, with SKALAR and TENSOR at the bottom and VEKTOR at the peak, a combination of the two, but elevated. Do you feel you have reached a cap on what is possible in a space like Kraftwerk, or does the space still hold more possibilities for you?

Kraftwerk Berlin started to feel like my living room a while ago, as I spent so much time creating art in there already. I don't like traditional exhibition spaces; I don't like white or black boxes and cubes where the art itself is isolated from the surrounding environment. I love Kraftwerk because it has so much character in it. Here, if you switch on just one light bulb, it reflects throughout the whole space, creating fascinating shadows and illuminating the many layers and patterns. I feel like there is no other place like it in Berlin, or maybe even the world (and believe me when I say that I looked at most of them over the years). We also included Kraftwerk itself into the soundtrack for VEKTOR; I was literally banging on walls and other things to record sounds. For me, there is always something more to discover each time I create there.