Raul Keller, Process, drypoint, 30 x 30 cm, 10 works in series, 2012. Tartu Art Museum collection.

Raul Keller (1973) has focused his practice on experimental art; relating to location, improvisation and sound art since the 1990s. Keller’s work is largely based on process, acoustics of the space, and DIY-practices. He is one of the few artists in Estonia working in sound art consistently.

One of Keller’s first radiophonic experiments was titled “Jammer” (2002). It was a radio program, broadcasted with a monophonic transmitter at a frequency of 105,8 MHz in Tallinn. The channel was open to everyone for three hours. The aim of the project was to create a low-frequency democratic environment to explore the creative and technological possibilities of radio broadcasting, without media or technological censorship. With the work “Radio – it’s really simple!” (2002) Keller promoted creating DIY radio receivers. This work borrows its title from the book “Radio? … it’s really Simple!” by the French radio enthusiast Eugen Aisberg, translated into Estonian in 1969.

In his installations, Keller often makes use of already existing soundscapes. For example, “Reflector” (2007) is 24-hour sound composition, for which he recorded sound bites in the surroundings of the installation over a two-week period. The installation reflects the particular sound environment in its location, and also complements and shifts it. “Torpedoes in” (2013) is a material-based spatial installation that uses sound as a “natural” tool – five torpedoes constructed by Keller, made to rumble by air flow. His earlier work “Torpedoes out” (2011) is based on the same material and powered by air. A more recent piece, “mem: interference” (2022) exhibited at Villa Elisabeth in Berlin, also focused on reflecting and shifting of the surrounding soundscape. The work consists of giant helium balloons with strings attached to speakers playing low frequency sound files, which makes the balloons act as oscillating systems. Touching the vibrating balloon strings changes the sound. Independently of the player, the installation develops the sound on its own.

Keller’s first retrospective exhibition “KLANG!” (2012) in the Estonian Maritime Museum’s Gunpowder Store gave an overview of his sound objects and installations created in the second half of the 2000s. In his most monumental exhibition to date titled “What You Hear is What You Get (Mostly)” (2014) in the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, running through the museums three floors, displayed a multi-part low frequency sound work, exploring the relationship between sound objects and architectural space, human perception and habits, offering abundant in-depth transformations on perception and space.

Interested in small formats, Keller has been working with analogue photography since the 2010s. For example, at the travelling exhibition “Perfect worlds” (2011), Keller combined medium and large format negatives on the contact copy principle, which he glued to magnet surfaces, making it possible to use these as fridge magnets. The set of photographs travelled from home to home and anyone who got hold of the set, had the opportunity to freely exhibit it on their refrigerator and listen to the soundscape created for the show on a portable speaker. The exhibition “Tranquil beauty” (2022) was similar in many ways – Keller exhibited photographs created as contact copies from a wide sheet film (4 × 5 in, using a Linhof Technika III wide format camera.

Keller’s sound publications take many forms. Under the pseudonym Paul Cole, he has released burlesque americana (albums “Bad Paintings”, 2004; “The storm hits”, 2009). Additionally, he is one half of the free improvisation noise duo (with Hello Upan, albums “Pacific”, 2017; “Patient”, 2022), and the founder and manager of a small label Muusika ja Kunsti Dünaamilise Koondise (MKDK). Keller also belongs to the art group MIMproject and organises the radio art festival Radiaator, as well as radio art concert performances with LokaalRaadio (both with Katrin Essenson and Hello Upan).

Raul Keller studied art pedagogy at Tallinn University (BA, 1999) and interactive multimedia at the Arts Academy of Estonia (MA, 2002). He has been to several residencies like Meinblau Projektraum, Singuhr-projekte, Berlin (2014); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2007), and Colina Lab, Marseille (2006).
In addition to projects in Estonia, Keller has also exhibited internationally: “Six Drums” (2016, SIC Galleria, Helsinki), “moondur/shifter” (2014, Meinblau Projektraum, Singuhr-projekte, Berlin) and “Notes, scribblings” (2013, gallery Malonijoi 6, Vilnius). With LokaalRaadio he participated in a radio program curated by Knut Aufermann and Sarah Washington at São Paulo Biennial (2012). From 2014 to 2019 Keller was the Head of the New Media Department and a professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts. In 2015 he was awarded with the annual prize of Cultural Endowment of Estonia. Keller is among the recipients of the national artists’ salary between 2020 and 2022.


Selected projects

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