Walter Giers


Picture Portrait Giers, o.A. ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Walter Giers / ZKM-01-0145-02-00277

Walter Giers (1937–2016) is one of the international pioneers of electronic art. The artist, who stands in the tradition of kinetic art and Op Art and was also active as a jazz musician and designer, lived and worked in Schwäbisch Gmünd, where he developed light and sound objects from the late 1960s onwards. In 1969 Giers embarked on making his first non-functional objects out of electronic components. These were objects that offered the spectator a playfully active role: by turning various switches, he or she was able to bring about a sequence of dynamic movements. In 1973 Giers abandoned the tactile principle of consciously spectator-generated movement in the objects he made and started to integrate random generators. As a result the works appeared to evolve a life of their own as impulses set off by the light, sounds or movements around them were translated into optically or acoustically perceptible alterations.The many light and sound sculptures to result from this approach, combining invariably clear outer structures with lyrical or meditative qualities, are intended to set off a range of associations in the mind and emotions in the spectator. Works using light fields serve to link large spaces together; and sound objects, with their acoustic effects, intrude almost aggressively into the display space.

The archive of Walter Giers, comprising approx. 8 meters, were handed over in 2021. Numerous documents, typescripts and manuscripts, correspondence and sketches available in the estate allow a comprehensive look into Walter Giers' artistic and theoretical production. Extensive collections of photographs, publications, and ephemera serve as a research basis and references for scientifically analyzing Gier's light, sound, and media projects and contextualizing them in terms of art history. In the ZKM archive, these important testimonies and central sources of media art and the art of Walter Giers in particular are preserved, indexed and described, as well as made accessible to a broad public.

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