Nik Nowak, you work on select projects with your brother Till Nowak. To what degree was art present in your childhood? It was clear to both of us early on that we would do artistic work. Even as a child, Till filmed things with Super8 cameras. I wanted to become a painter. Our father is an art teacher and gave us his support. Till was already interested in cartoons at that point. At 14, I started painting copies of works by Otto Dix and doing portraits of friends. I was later influenced by the Dadaists and, especially, Marcel Duchamp.
We took to different forms pretty early on. Till is now a filmmaker, lives in LA and works on Hollywood productions. I went into visual art. For me, sound and music, as forms of expression, became part of it.
You combine art and music in your installations. Why? I’ve been building sound installations since 2005. It developed organically. When I was painting and drawing, music was always an essential source of energy. My wall drawings were mostly created on location and not in the studio. That’s why, at some point, I built a mobile sound system. Not just a ghetto blaster but a unit that was also a mobile studio.
A whole series of sound objects with different specifications emerged from that. Some could only play high-frequency sounds, while others were aimed at sub frequencies. The sound tank ambivalently references the use of music as a weapon and the use of sound systems as cultural transmitters.
My sound objects are sculptures as well as functional sound systems. The formal aspects of the object create certain clusters of associations in those who see it. Sound tank, for example, is a hybrid of a Jamaican sound system, tank and stealth aircraft.