Rainer Kohlberger

Professor at The European Graduate School / EGS


Rainer Kohlberger (b. 1982 in Linz, Austria), is a visual artist and (media) designer based in Berlin.

A graduate of the MultiMediaArt program at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg (2007), he creates algorithm-based graphics and imageries for different formats: “Visually my film and installation works can be understood as pure light, created by algorithms out of nothing”; at the same time, as Kohlberger describes it, “[m]y films and installations are audiovisual in general, where I create everything myself, including the sound. Film and music are both disciplines where one has to work with time and come up with a composition and think about narratives. Therefore I often refer to Visual Music as a term that I really like.” [1]

Kohlberger’s most recent film it has to be lived once and dreamed twice (2019) tells of the imminent hegemony of artificial intelligence, of mind and body, electricity and computer, spirituality and technology, and the age-old narrative of love and fear. ‘The mind is a strange loop’, reality is only an idea. A future world uninhabited by human beings provides perspective on an era of hysterical images. Was the world merely a lucid dream?“[2] Similarly, Kohlberger describes the previous more than everything (2018) as “a dance between your brain and the world. A hallucinatory figure of information that speaks on the threshold of being. We are bathed in interferences from sensual data to what might be out there. We will go to another land, we will try another sea. One plus one equals three.“[3]

While the 8 minute film keep that dream burning (2017) “reveals the elusiveness of our modern world’s digital esthetics”[4], in not even nothing can be free of ghosts (selected for a Tiger Award for Short Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016) “‘ghost beings’ become manifest in digital ‘nirvana.’ The intentional overload of the human perception apparatus leads, moreover, to visual impressions that appear exclusively in the literal ‘eye of the beholder.’ These ‘ghosts’ appear from ‘nothing’ and are ‘nothing’; they are mere hallucinations evoked by the imperfect human-biological data processing system.“[5]

More recent installations include never comes tomorrow (exhibited in 2016 at, among others, Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel, at Internationales Kurzfilmfestival Hamburg, at Berlin atonal, and at Kasseler Dokfest/Monitoring) and the series Colors of Noise (2012-2014), which consisted of three parts: Part I was exhibited at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York; part II was exhibited in Berlin in public space; Colors of Noise, Pt. III was the festival trailer for Crossing Europe 2014 (which was then also projected onto the festival building).

In 2013, Kohlberger received the Crossing Europe Local Artist Award for his film humming, fast and slow —“an interference between the analogue and the digital. It operates on the line that was defined as the absolute threshold of visual perception—[6]” and in 2011, his app field —“an abstract audiovisual work that generates itself through real-time camera input”[7]—won him the ZKM App Art Award/Prize for Artistic Innovation.

Recent live performances took place at Open City Documentary Festival (London, 2019), SET Fest (Teheran, 2018; with 9T Antiope), Ars Electronica Festival (2018, with Peter Kutin), Berlin Atonal and Moogfest, Durham NC (both with CURA MACHINES; 2018) and Heart of Noise (Innsbruck, 2018; with Peter Kutin).

Other notable works include the code-generated video moon blink (2015), the installation ghostwriter (2009), the app rain (2010); Kohlberger also created the visuals for Varèse’s «Arcana», performed by the Bruckner Orchestra Linz under the direction of Dante Anzolini (2011).

[1] Bryony Stone, “Digital artist Rainer Kohlberger: “my works can be understood as pure light”; https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/we-asked-digital-artist-rainer-kohlberger-to-explain-his-work-161216

[2] Stefan Grissemann (translation: Eve Heller); http://kohlberger.net/work/it-has-to-be-lived-once-and-dreamed-twice

[3] http://kohlberger.net/work/more-than-everything

[4] Hubert Poul, Karlovy Vary Int. Film Festival 2017, quoted on http://www.sixpackfilm.com/en/catalogue/show/2383

[5]  Norbert Pfaffenbichler (translation: Lisa Rosenblatt); http://kohlberger.net/work/not-even-nothing-can-be-free-of-ghosts

[6] Eno Henze, NODE Festival , quoted on http://kohlberger.net/work/humming-fast-and-slow

[7] http://kohlberger.net/apps/field