“…a merciless revealer using the means of Art.”
Berliner Zeitung, Germany


I am a protagonist of digital and infossil art, instrumentalist, filmmaker, coder, teacher, and aspiring cosmographer. In 1980, while studying music, I began to program. Starting from 1989, I experimented with computer-assisted transformations of sound and image, and during this time, I took a pioneering role with others in the development of software and interactive installations as an art form.

In the early 2000s, I increasingly turned my attention to humanitarian, and social issues such as access to communication media and the sustainable management of fossil and infossil resources. In 2000 and 2010, I addressed the resource needs of the internet with the works R111 and Avatar. From 2008, I integrated the medium of radioactivity into my work. With DUST VR, I ventured into the field of environmental virtual reality and civic tech. Currently, I am working on a cosmography of the world and the transfer of the digital into natural cycles. With “Minimal Carbon”, I locate the field of energy as a form of art.

Ich bin Protagonist der digitalen und infossilen Kunst, Instrumentalist, Filmemacher, Coder, Lehrer und werdender Kosmograf. 1980, während meines Studiums der Musik beginne ich zu programmieren. Ab 1989 experimentiere ich mit der computergestützten Transformationen von Klang und Bild und übernehme in dieser Zeit mit anderen eine Vorreiterrolle in der Entwicklung von Software und interaktiven Installationen als Kunstform.
Anfang der 2000er-Jahre wende ich mich vermehrt humanitären und sozialen Fragestellungen zu wie dem Zugang zu Kommunikationsmedien und dem nachhaltigen Umgang mit fossilen und infossilen Ressourcen. 2000 und 2010 thematisiere ich den Ressourcenbedarf des Internets mit den Arbeiten R111 und Avatar. Ab 2008 integriere ich das Medium Radioaktivität in meine Arbeit. Mit DUST VR eröffne ich das Feld der virtuellen Realität im Kontext der Umwelt. Aktuell arbeite ich an einer Kosmografie der Welt und der Überführung des Digitalen in Kreisläufe der Natur. Mit “Minimal Carbon Site” verorte ich das Feld der Energie als Form der Kunst.

Michael Saup is an artist, instrumentalist, filmmaker and coder. He has acted as professor of digital media art at HfG/ZKM University in Germany and as the founding director of the Oasis Archive of the European Union. He is the co-founder of the Open Home Project, a humanitarian initiative to help people being affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Michael Saup’s work focuses on the underlying forces of nature and society; an ongoing research into what he calls the “Archaeology of Future”.

During the 1990s Michael Saup developed a reputation as an innovative protagonist of digital art. His work, often in cooperation with other artists, has been widely shown in exhibitions, festivals and on stages around the world. He currently lives and works in Berlin.

Vor Sonnen-Aufgang, 2017 mit Laibach

In 1980, while enrolled at the Dominican University, San Rafael, California, Michael Saup studied music and computer science and started to combine both fields with an algorithmic approach. In 1987, he created “Flicker”, his first computer-generated light installation, which immersed a gallery space with permutations of pulsing light. From 1989 onwards, Saup began to experiment with real time transformations of sound and image, helping pioneer the development of software as an artform.

2000 – Michael Saup, Steina Vasulka and Louis Philippe Demers

Michael Saup’s early work introduced direct control of digital film through music and sound-driven interactive computer animations. With these innovative strategies he created installations like “Pulse8” (1992), concerts like “Hyena Days” (1992) and choreography generators like “Binary Ballistic Ballet” (1995).

Light as Skin, 1997, Frankfurt Airport

In 1992 he founded the group ”supreme particles”, helping launch the field of audiovisual processing and interactive environments. This group specialised in the creation of experimental software in connection with art, architecture and music. A work of this group was “Light as Skin” (1997-2007), a connecting passenger transit tunnel bathed in light at Frankfurt International Airport being one of the first large scale and long term interactive works of media art in public space.

R111, Tokyo 2001

Their installation “R111” (1999-2001) exhibited the concept of virtual matter and its ramifications in the real world. While new media actual tendencies were virtualizing reality, R111 took the inverse approach of materializing virtuality: choreographing particles of matter as though they were pixels.

The turn of the century saw Michael Saup begin to focus on political and social issues, such as access to communications media, consumption and transformation of fossil and “infossil” resources, nuclear history and financial theory. As part of his ‘Weapons of Mass Education’ project, he initiated workshops with young filmmakers in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Morocco and Afghanistan.

photo by Marko Košnik 2010

Your art is deeply anchored in this desire to overcome space and time. The fossil is the remains of evolution that transcend death. Coal, which is thousands of years old, is the source of energy for today’s culture. It succeeds here, so to speak, to jump beyond our time radius and to fall back on experiences and information that nourish us today. The ability to extract energy from the fossil has been a tremendous cultural achievement. Something that is actually dead, and passed by evolution, can be used again for life. These are actually already the first medial processes. It’s very interesting that you relate media practices to the fossil. The fossil fuels show that the media have the tendency to skip the laws of evolution, the core of which is death.

Peter Weibel on Michael Saup, Karlsruhe, 2002

Research and Teaching

Michael Saup has held appointments at several universities, including the Academy of Fine Arts Munich and the Zürich University of the Arts. From 1991 to 1994 he was artistic and scientific assistant at the Institute for New Media in Frankfurt. In 1999 he was appointed as founding professor for Digital Art at ZKM / HfG Academy of Art and Design in Karlsruhe, where he remained in residence through 2005.

Dust, Rijeka 2019
Falling Forest – Root Log, Montréal, 2008
Mt Kum, Slovenia, November 2019, photo by Matevž Kolenc
shift, Gasometer Oberhausen, 1995
Kabul 2004, by Lida Abdul