Sonnenzimmer

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Driving east on Division is now a whole lot more colorful, as gracing the side of the building that houses the Wicker Park Intelligentsia Coffeebar is now a brand new, four-story tall print by the art collective Sonnenzimmer. A duo that produces prints, paintings, textiles, books, and music, Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi have been producing art as Sonnenzimmer since 2006 and are veterans of the design world. Trying to pin down their work in simple description would be difficult, except to say that the common through line for both the large mural, and the surrounding prints on display inside the Wicker Park Intelligentsia is a strong sense of color and playfulness.

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The Sun Never Sets is side-long slippery affair that mixes improvisation, airy guitar chimes, and sun-shaped mantras going in and out of phase. It’s the soundtrack to excavating your way free of a simulated reality. On Thursday, August 24th, Sonnenzimmer staged a performance around the album inside the Wicker Park Coffeebar to launch the album and celebrate the new art. By mounting an overhead camera and projecting their workspace behind them, Nick and Nadine were able to build a fully flat visual workspace that displayed their audio playground. Their audio playground, it seems, was a dual skeletal turntable setup with custom inlay record mats, wood block shapes, and other items that would be physically placed on top of copies of their records as they played in order to create new loops within the music itself. Utilizing a glass display, Sonnenzimmer was able to also stack objects and create new visual elements that overlaid the playing turntables in a three dimensional stack, but projected as fully flat art.

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The overall effect was a powerful visual representation that mirrored their latest prints and their large new mural, while at the same time creating a once in a lifetime new way to experience The Sun Never Sets as it’s ambient blips were distorted live by the artists’ themselves. The subversion of taking this type of art outside of traditional art spaces and creating it in a coffeebar, as well, established a unique approachability to an expression that that might otherwise exist only as an abstraction. And this is to the core of what Sonnenzimmer is creating. An array of different media that pursues different abstract elements and contours, but ultimately, art that’s designed to be experienced and enjoyed in real spaces.

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