Ryoji Ikeda: coding reality and transforming it into a live tour


Big Data isn’t a topic that has only got tech gurus at Silicon Valley mouth watering on: the way we, as humans, perceive and elaborate huge amounts of data through our empiric experiences is indeed the inexplicable quid of what makes us human. Ryoji Ikeda has made of his datamatics something that goes beyond art: he turned his exhibition into a real music tour.

datamatics [prototype-ver.2.0], audiovisual concert, 2006-08 © Ryoji Ikeda photo by Ryuichi Maruo, courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM)

The beauty of pixels

Imagine finding a pattern, a governing rule of what surrounds us and enabling others to comprehend reality thanks to this revelation. In Ryojii Ikeda’s investigation, this pattern is the pixel: thanks to mathematical rules, Ikeda makes us see how each pixel is determined, which means, how we generate interpretations of reality from data.

Ikeda’s work is deep scientific research into identifying particles and how they are made stay together by the laws of physics: how does all this relate to his latest work?

Studio Hans Wilschut

The experience of sound

His latest work isn’t only an art installation, the Japanese sound artist has in fact put together dates as any musician would do for a live tour around the world. Far from being electronic music gatherings for kids, resembling Tomorrowland madness, his art installations are live performances, including  his live datamatics that will be held at Eye in Amsterdam and a percussions show held in Rome.

Studio Hans Wilschut

The study of particles has for Ikeda moved onto studying the most minimalistic and essential parts of sounds: as the second audio-visual concert based on pure data as a source for sound and visuals, datamatics projects dynamic computer-generated imagery in black and white reflected by a hypnotic soundtrack, made of ‘sonic components to produce immense and apparently boundless acoustic spaces’. In collaboration with Eklekto, the concert in Rome called ‘music for percussion’ marks a new path in the immense research of the japanese artist. The focus is in fact on the purity of the sound produced by the four percussionists.

Ryoji Ikeda | Eye Filmmuseum | 15 September – 2 December 2018

Illusions that are reality as we don’t know it

What the artist created is a space that seems to have no sound boundaries, and this is part of Ryoji Ikeda’s  plan of discerning perception as we know it. What is fascinating about how he interprets sound is the fact he does it also through the study of those sounds we as human cannot normally hear, such as white noise. It’s the Golden Ratio applied to music, interpreted by ‘physical’ musicians as well as computer generated sequences of visuals. It’s where science and our rawest human side tell the the same story, the one of ‘the experience of sound’. And this is why Ryoji Ikeda’s installations turned concerts date are not to be missed.

In Los Angeles the ‘concert’ date for 2019 is titled  Ryoji IKEDA : 100 cymbals (world premiere, LA Phil commission with generous support from David C. Bohnett). It will feature the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet and Alexandre Babel.

Ryoji Ikeda: Don’t call him sound artist - think about Leonardo

OK, the comparison might be a long stretch, but there’s art and genius, as well as science, research and tons of passion for the world of particle physics. He spent some time at CERN and Ars Electronica Futurelab, defining static data (DNA, proteins and galactic coordinates).

Alongside this 2018 tour, which sees  him in different locations around the world, Ryoji Ikeda is also showcasing his code-verse audiovisual installation at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR.

In Amsterdam , alongside his ‘concert’, it will be possible to ‘experience’ his solo exhibition until December 2nd at the EyeFilmMuseum.

the radar [shanghai], site-specific installation, 2014 © Ryoji Ikeda Courtesy of Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Museum