Nicolai (*1965) taught himself art. He studied landscape architecture and began his career as an artist by painting, until turning in the mid-1990s increasingly to installations and object-based works. Parallel to this, he plays music under the pseudonym Alva Noto.
For many years Nicolai has been intrigued by perceptive processes, enabling us to experience the mechanisms behind our optical and acoustic impressions. A particular issue explored in his work is our potential for subjective and objective cognition. He examines immaterial phenomena, raising questions about human consciousness – such as how much of what we perceive really exists outside our perceptions, and how much of it is constructed in our brain by means of neurons.