The Rainbowmonkey

Published:  December 20, 2012
Heath Killen
The Rainbowmonkey

Born in Germany but now living and working in New Zealand, Markus Hofko (aka The Rainbowmonkey) has built a portfolio of work that’s not afraid to cross disciplines, venture into uncharted territory, or just get a little weird.

Hofko will be visiting our shores next month as part of the Sugar Mountain music & arts festival – for which he will provide interactive live projections for ESG and WOODS – but he recently dropped into Desktop for a chat. Here Hofko sheds a little more light on his practice, the unique creative space that he operates in, and the direction his work might be taking next.

Do you see yourself as a designer, artist, a hybrid of the two, or something else entirely?
Definitely a hybrid. My education was all based around design, about rights and wrongs and about ‘how to’. Hence my point of view on my own work will always be based on a designer’s perspective. But I’m trying to let loose and give freeform and spontaneousness more chance nowadays. It’s not easy though. However from a conceptual level I see some of my work more as art even though it might be more designed than artistically crafted.

You work in a diverse range of mediums and styles, but in terms of craft, how do you go about teaching yourself new skills?
I’m quickly bored by one thing so I really enjoy variety. I’m happy to learn new things and experiment with new mediums, merge them with things I already know and create something new. Just recently I installed a darkroom in my studio and started to play with photograms and such. I really like tactile work, anything that is not operated by a mouse and a cursor. Currently I’m working on a job for which I will create clay models. I haven’t done this before but I’m happy to get into those traditional crafts. It’s the real deal.

Your work often shows glimpses into other worlds. What are some of your favourite worlds from fiction and art?
I really like the world in the 70s animation ‘The Fantastic Planet’ where the roles of humans and pets are swapped. In the story aliens rule over humans, who are little, and often held as pets or toys. The aliens are much wiser, live longer and see the humans as a pest and not worthwhile. It offers an interesting perspective on how we treat animals or anything non-human and how we think we are the prime living being. ‘The Planet of the Apes’ has a similar storyline which I like a lot too.

Furthermore I love time travel stories. Just recently I watched this Spanish movie ‘Timecrimes’ which I highly recommend.

Aside from this I enjoy any surreal and fantastical visions of ‘other worlds’. Max Ernst, Magritte, Dali, De Chirico, and all those…

Also anything seemingly concept-less is of interest to me: Dada, Fluxus, Theatre of the absurd…

Is there a fully fleshed out narrative to the worlds that you create, or are they simply self contained ideas?
I wouldn’t try to fully lay out a certain ‘world’ in an image and I think it’s not really possible. However I really try to get into the vibe of a certain brief and be able to see and feel that specific ‘world’ myself. The idea I would come up with would be an excerpt of this world, a sneak view into it, a slice of it, still offering the viewer the opportunity to expand on it and add their own imagination.

Where would you like to take your work that it hasn’t gone already? I can imagine some of your ideas being a great foundation of a short (or feature) film, but I’d also love know what a Rainbowmonkey corporate identity looks like.
I’m definitely tending towards more complex story telling and keen to develop short or even feature films. I have a few scripts in my mind which I would love to visualize one day. At the beginning of 2012 my wife Karin and me developed a stage play accompanied by a 7-piece band which we will perform again next year. Live performance is surely a field I would love to do more in the future. It offers a playground where I can combine all the things I love: storytelling, design, music, art, technology, life.


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