Joachim Sauter: Poetry is the New Black

Joachim Sauter’s talk re-introduced poetry in its many-splendored modernized forms. Joachim has had a long, decorated, but – according to him – not particularly focused career. There are two types of designers, he tells us, focusers and wonderers.

His slide-less talk depended on the capabilities of the Mac OS Finder and consisted of one awe-inspiring project after another. He began with projection-based, screen-based installations, projects such as the Salt Museum in Northern Germany and a public space in Tokyo, where the physical and the immaterial come together to create poetry. As he explains, in our increasingly digital, virtual world, there is emerging “a desire for the physical world” – the tactile is coming into focus again. In the design space in Tokyo, his team created an “installation which was literally dealing with light waves and water waves,” which transformed from virtual light ripples into real ripples once they hit the waterfront. He moves on to projects in motion – metal balls suspended by wires and formed into iconic cars, choreography of light that started and ended with the Chinese character for movement at the Shanghai Expo, The Poetry of Motion, a two-way translation of “movement into sound and sound into movement.” He describes these projects as “dynamic, challenging, precise.”

Joachim ends his talk with a reminder of focusers and wonderers. “There’s no right or wrong, better or worse – it depends on your character,” but, he adds, whatever you choose, wherever you go, “go your way with open eyes.” And his talk did exactly that for many of us – open our eyes to design beyond what we’re used to.


Joachim Sauter

Media Designer (Berlin, Germany)

After graduating from the academy of fine arts in Berlin, Joachim Sauter studied at the 'German Academy for Film and Television', Berlin. Since the early 1980s, he has been working as a media artist and designer. From the beginning, Joachim Sauter has focussed on digital technologies and is experimenting how they can be used to express content, form, and narration. Fuelled by this interest, he founded ART+COM in 1988 together with other artists, designers, scientists and technologists.Their goal was to practically research this new up-and-coming medium in the realm of art and design. Until now, he is leading this interdisciplinary group. In the course of his work he was invited to participate on many exhibitions. Beside others he showed his work at 'Centre Pompidou' Paris, 'Stejdilik Museum' Amsterdam, 'Museum for Contemporary Art' Sidney, 'Deichtorhallen Hamburg' , Kunsthalle Wien, 'Venice Biennial','ICC' Tokyo, 'Getty Center' Los Angeles, MAXXI Rom. He received several awards like the 'Golden Lion, Cannes', the 'D&AD Black Pencil', the 'Ars Electronica Interactive Award', the 'British Academy for Film and Television Interactive Award', ADC New York and ADC Germany Gold, the 'Grand Clio', the 'Red Dot Grand Prix', the "Designaward of the Federal Republic of Gemany" and many other national and international awards'. Since 1991 he is full professor for "New Media Art and Design" at the 'University of the Arts' Berlin and since 2001 adjunct professor at UCLA, Los Angeles.