Les dessous de la créativité : Robert Henke

Les artistes sont des créatifs. Ils créent, ils doutent, ils rencontrent, ils expérimentent, ils renoncent, ils bifurquent. Entre clashs et conciliations, les artistes sont des entrepreneurs d’arts. Dans le cadre d’un séminaire sur le « management de la créativité », les étudiants du Master 2 ECOTIC de l’Université Rennes 1 vous invitent à découvrir les dessous de la créativité chez les artistes invités à Cultures Electroni[k].

Yesterday : childhood and career path

Robert Henke’s way to become an important artist in the field of electronic music was not evident when he was growing up in Munich. With mostly engineers in his family background, he set out to work in a technical domain himself, fueled by his interested for physics and science.
Nevertheless he already took a liking to arts and music at a young age, going to museums by himself, where he was especially fascinated by installations and abstract modern art. Also his passion for electronic music developed early in Robert Henke’s life, largely due to the influence of the French electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre. Still seeing this as a hobby, but not a career path, Robert Henke moved to Berlin to study computer science and sound engineering – an important step for him and his artistic development.
The massive scene of electronic and alternative music in Germany’s capital as well as his connections to other musicians, lead him to start making music and giving concerts, ultimately culminating in the success he has nowadays.
One of these important contacts in Berlin is his partner Christopher Bauder, with whom he realized the performance ATOM – one of the many examples how collaborations between artists can benefit both sides, offers access to new audiences and lead to new creative solutions.

Today : Electroni[K]

Taking part to a festival like Eletroni[K] is a good opportunity for an artist such as Robert Henke to have fun but also to get to know other artists. According to him the more you perform the more you get to perform. When being asked about how he teaches creativity he replies « If you want to be successful as an artist, there are a lot of things you need to do which have nothing to do with creativity » and then he goes on « if you want to make sound in this room (where Atom is to be performed) you need to know where to place the speaker for instance. Thanks to experience you gain knowledge about things, you can hear how the room sounds. » He assert that in the case of the airport soundscape everything was clearly defined beforehand « I had one week to record and one evening to play it therefore I started off with the things I do best ». He perfectly knew how to process and in which order « You’ve learned to work systematically ».
According to Robert Henke whether something is good or bad is difficult to tell, people have different opinions, arguments and there is always room for interpretation. If you ask him how he would assess his own work he would have several answers going from « A good statement from a colleague counts hundred times more than a person that is not knowledgeable. It shows me that what I am doing is at a similar level » to « of course I could not afford to perform Atom if there were no audience ». It is then pretty clear that many factors are to be taken into consideration when it comes to the longevity of a piece of art.
It follows from the above that a work has a life time and to Robert Henke’s mind it’s really hard to decide when something is finished. Therefore you have to determine how much work you need to put in a project. « Concerts for example have a good thing the deadline, whatever you have ready is what you’re going to perform ».
« I always tried to find a way not to be dependent on my art » says Robert Henke meaning that he would like to enjoy the freedom to decide what he wants to do and what he does not, regardless of money.
As a renowned artist and engineer he gives us some precious advices to keep in mind. An artist should be able to communicate with people and understand the tools he works with. Creating something that has already been done is not worth it. He thinks artists can have three different strategies when they are not considered emerging artists anymore: being lazy and just keep on with their art as long as it works, improve your own work in search of perfection and finally constantly innovate (which he preferably adopts).


Robert Henke is going to be the resident artist at Stanford University in the spring quarter of 2013. Though he already teaches at the University of Art in Berlin, this is a new step for him. Robert will be the first resident artist coming from the electronic music scene, meaning that this scene is being recognized at one of the most prestigious level.
Robert Henke says « teaching is the best way to learn ». The look of his students over his work is the best way to see it differently and to come up with new ideas. He is often surprised by the relevance of their questions that he would never ask himself. However, this activity if properly done is taking a lot of time and as we all understood during that interview dealing with time has been and remains one of the biggest issues for the artist.

By Morgane Farcy, Romain Moussart, Monika Nagelhofer, Antoine Thuillet

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Spring 2013, visiting artist at Stanford University

Une réponse à “Les dessous de la créativité : Robert Henke”

  1. […] posted for free download at soundcloud.com/monolake. More on the Elektroni[k] undertaking at electroni-k.org. More from Henke/Monolake at […]

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