Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda brings the future of sound art to Australia.
Part of the International Symposium of Electronic Art 2013, Ryoji Ikeda’s test pattern [no. 5] is on show at Carriageworks, Sydney, until 1 July. The audiovisual installation, bridging art and technology, transports the viewer into a compelling digital world.
Synesthesia through binary numbers: Ryoji Ikeda
Japan has always proved to be at the forefront of technological innovation in Asia and it is no surprise to find that sound artist Ryoji Ikeda (b. 1966) comes from there. This year, the 19th International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA) is holding their event in Asia-Pacific as part of Vivid Sydney. A highlight of the symposium is Ikeda’s audiovisual installation at Carriageworks, from 8 June to 1 July. test pattern [no.5] comprises five projectors that illuminate a floor space some 28 metres long and eight metres wide. The installation converts data (text, sounds, photos and movies) into barcode and binary patterns of zeroes and ones.
The Carriageworks press release describes the work as a synesthetic experience:
Ikeda uses scale, light, shade, volume, shadow, electronic sounds, and rhythm to flood the senses. In choreographing vast amounts of digital information, the artist conjures up a transformative environment in which visitors confront data on a scale that defies comprehension, experiencing the infinite.
Part of the event is also a one night performance, datamatics [ver.2.0], an updated version of an audiovisual concert presented in venues around the world since 2006, the first being at Zero1, San Jose, California, for ISEA 2006.
Watch a short video of ‘datamatics [ver.2.0]’ on youtube.com below
The rise of sound art
Ryoji Ikeda’s sound art installations might seem futuristic, but as John Kieffer of The Guardian points out, “sound art is nothing new: it has its roots in the early 20th century, with the dadaists and futurists.” “Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art,” a major 2012 exhibition at the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany, charted the history of sound art through the twentieth century and its development in the 21st century, including Ryoji Ikeda as one of the foremost contemporary sound artists. According to the curators,
With the introduction of the synthesiser and the computer, the era of techno-sound was initiated, which opened up an entirely new auditory space ranging from ambient music through to telematic installations.
Between the late 1970s and the 1990s, sound art was presented at niche electronic and media art events, such as Ars Electronica (Linz, 1979), transmediale (Berlin, 1988), International Symposium of Electronic Art, ISEA (Utrecht, 1988) and the Japan Media Art Festival (Tokyo, 1997). The turn of the century has witnessed a proliferation of such events both in the West and Asia, and sound art has made it to the mainstream of museum and biennial shows.
The first sound artist to win the Turner Prize in 2010, Scottish Susan Philipsz, marked a turning point, and as The Guardian highlighted at the time, “Sound Art is here to stay.” The claim proved to be true when the Silver Lion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 was awarded to British-Pakistani sound artist Haroon Mirza, which marked yet another cornerstone in the future of sound art.
Paris-based Ikeda has been active in sound art since 1995, showing and performing worldwide. According to Forma Art and Media, the artist’s representative, his work uses mathematical methods to shape music, time and space.
Ikeda explores sound and vision as sensation pulling apart their physical properties to reveal their complex relationships with human perception. Ikeda’s works both examine and apply mathematical and scientific theory, and test the extreme potentials of digital technology, to reveal the microscopic matter – and data – that permeates our universe, whilst challenging our own thresholds of perception.
Ikeda has already performed at the 2013 Sharjah Biennale 11 and the Barbican, London. In 2011, the transfinite at New York’s Park Avenue Armory was dubbed by The New York Times as a “sublime spectacle.”
In 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) held Ikeda’s first major retrospective, and in 2008 the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media held his first solo exhibition in Japan. Spectra, a site-specific audiovisual installation, has appeared in the urbanscapes of cities such as Amsterdam and Paris in 2008.
Asian sound artists at MoMA New York
This summer, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, will launch “Soundings: A Contemporary Score”, a major exhibition of sound art. Part of the roster of artists on show will be three Asian sound artists: Samson Young (Korea), Hong Kai Wang (Taiwan) and Toshiya Tsunoda (Japan).
C. Xuan Mai Ardia
- Indonesian robot art strikes New York – the Gamelatron Project – June 2013 – an Indonesian sound installation brings Asian robotics art to New York
- Mamoru Okumo’s sound art in Hong Kong: Everyday objects become musical instruments – August 2012 – Japanese artist Mamoru Okumo blurs the lines between viewing and listening with a sound art exhibition in Hong Kong
- Emerging Taiwanese sound artist addresses environmental issues – interview with Hsu Yen-Ting – June 2012 – Taiwanese sound artists discusses the importance of active listening and the role of art in society
- Top Australian media artists introduced at Art Taipei – public lecture by Antoanetta Ivanova – September 2010 – Australian media artists participate in an exhibition at Art Taipei 2010, introducing the new trends in art and technology
- Sound art, trickery and time – interview Hong Kong new media artist Chilai Howard Cheng – September 2009 – interview with young Hong Kong sound artist reveals how art can manipulate human perception
Subscribe to Art Radar for more on sound art in Asia