Interview with Artist Robin Meier, Audemars Piguet, Art Basel 2015

Luxury Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet will showcase a major new artwork by Swiss artist and composer Robin Meier at Volkshaus to coincide with Art Basel 2015. Recipient of the inaugural Audemars Piguet Art Commission, Meier has worked with renowned guest curator, Marc-Olivier Wahler, and Audemars Piguet on the production of Synchronicity. Transforming the interior of Volkshaus at Art Basel, this immersive installation will explore the underlying mathematical rules of self-organisation among fireflies, computers, crickets, sounds, and electromagnetic pendulums. Meier reveals his passion for natural synchronicity and his interest in the common-ground shared by music, mathematics and art.

A: Le Monde described you as an “artist of the future”. How do you feel about carrying such prestigious status? Does it put pressure on you?
RM: Sure, but I think one shouldn’t take oneself too seriously, whatever it is people say about you. I try to satisfy my personal curiosity and concentrate on my work, but to be honest though, I think “artist from the future” would have been funnier.

A: You work to an exceptionally complex level – have precision and innovation always been central within your work?
RM: I got fascinated in technology and mathematics through music. Music and maths have so many common points and specialising in electro-acoustic composition I learned to program computers and work with electrical circuits. This in turn gave me the tools to explore many other domains such as artificial intelligence, digital fabrication, robotics and eventually biology and collective intelligence.

A: Synchronicity as a theme sounds delightfully peculiar. How did you find yourself drawn to this subject?
RM: I have always been fascinated by complex systems that somehow self-organise. There are many examples of this in nature: beehives, birdswarms, synchronising fireflies, but also pedestrian flow, stock markets, transportation networks. All of these totally different systems are related to each other in the way their organisations arise or emerge without a leader from the innumerable interactions between individuals. The synchronisation of fireflies is a beautiful example of this.

A: Describing your most recent work as investigating the emergence of ‘order from chaos’, would you say this theme is a reflection of yourself?
RM: Absolutely, probably like for most living things.

A: Referring to your collaboration with renowned guest curator Marc-Oliver Wahler and Audemars Piguet, do you see your ideas being swayed towards any new, exciting directions?
RM: I enjoy working with Marc-Olivier and Audemars Piguet a lot and hope to continue these shared endeavours in the future! I think we really share a common vision on art and life.

Audemars Piguet Art Commission presents Robin Meier: ‘Synchronicity’ Fireflies, Crickets and Machines, curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, 17 – 21 June, Volkshaus, Regbasse 12-14, 4058 Basel.

Art Basel Collectors Lounge – Audemars Piguet Booth, Alexandre Joly: Wild Constellations, 18 -21 June, MCH Swiss Exhibition, Messeplatz, 4058 Basel.

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1. Still from Robin Meier’s Synchronicity 2015. Courtesy of Audemars Piguet.