Ryoji Ikeda

Last week I discovered the work of Ryoji Ikeda [official site] and soon got hooked up by it. It’s kind of strange because if I just listen to the songs without watching the videos that accompany them, they often bore me after a minute or so (with the exception of songs such as data.matrix, or test pattern [[ a really cool live performance of latter at Barcelona’s Sonar festival can be found here)

Sounds and video together, instead, produce a fascinating effect: they convey a sense of simplicity and primordial intensity. Through the interaction of flashing lights, disturbing sounds from the technological world, and pure sine waves at extreme high and low frequencies what emerges is a complex pattern that made me wonder about the inner and mysterious workings of our minds.

Ikeda’s piece called Formula, below, is a good example of this kind of synesthesia-inspired digital art:

A nice article from Vivian Lee describes the approach of Ikeda in more details:

Musician and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda finds his inspiration in data, number arrangements, and the methods of math.

Ikeda’s minimalist electronic compositions blend sounds, focusing on specifics such as sine tones and frequencies at the most high and low in the range of human hearing—sound in its “raw” state. There are familiar sounds in his work, too: static from the radio, the skipping of scratched CDs, and a television that’s lost its signal.

Though Ikeda—who was born in Gifu, Japan, and currently lives and works in Paris—is a musician first, his mathematics-inspired video art is on the rise. Ikeda told the Japan Times that his inspirations come from “Most of the mathematicians in our modern history, especially Leibnitz, Cantor, Godel, Grothendieck.”

With modern mathematics in mind, Ikeda developed the idea of datamatics—a series of “experiments that explore the vast universe of data in the infinite between 0 and 1.” Datamatics first sprung up in 2006 but has been expanded into an hour-long show, weaving sound and video images. Ikeda manipulates these images in real time using custom-designed computer software as the audience looks onto the large screen projections. The data shown on screen is culled from records like NASA (including maps of solar systems) as well as from the Human Genome Project.

Along with datamatics, his ongoing dialogue with Harvard mathematician Benedict Gross—in which they explore the mathematical definitions of infinity—led to Ikeda’s data.tron series. In his “data.tron {3 SXGA + version},” pictured above, he creates an audiovisual installation—three floor-to-ceiling screens of data that physically overwhelms visitors with a staggering array of numbers.

Unlike artists who explore in one medium, Ikeda creates multimedia installations at the extremes of sound, light and mathematics. He fuses sound and image in an intensely physical experience, exploiting sound’s physical properties, exploring its relation with human perception, and revealing the aesthetic beauty of pure mathematics.

A list of other relevant articles can be found here


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