Tag Archives: Ryoji Ikeda

A Journey Through and With Ryoji Ikeda

A message from Kristy Edmunds for the evening’s program notes. 

Ryoji Ikeda: superposition. Royce Hall Nov. 7, 2014

I have had the great pleasure of working with Ryoji Ikeda over the span of a nearly 20 year arc. I first experienced his work in the context of an artist collective in Kyoto, Japan, called DumbType. I had seen their performance entitled “S/N” in 1994 at On the Boards in Seattle, Washington and was at the formative stage of my own career as a curator/artistic director.

DumbType was unique in their cross-discipline approach. They weren’t “blurring boundary lines” between art forms exactly, they were compressing many sources of artistic intelligence into a specific form. Their projects were stunning – quite literally. While we were grappling with floppy disks, dial-ups and beginning to say farewell to the marvels of our beepers and fax machines – Ryoji and his contemporaries were generating dimensional aesthetic poetry for the stage, the screens and for the gallery cubes that sought to frame their dynamic exploration.

I for one, had absolutely no idea what I was experiencing when I saw that first work – but I understood it was brilliant and it left me with a wonderment that soon converted into a recognition that I would have to galvanize something in my community in order for it to be seen. I started the Portland institute for Contemporary Art in the spring of 1995.

In 1999 we presented DumbType’s project entitled, “OR” and again in 2002 with “memorandum.” When I took up the position of Artistic Director at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, I invited Ryoji to perform and screen two of his pieces: “C4I” and “Formula” in 2005; with DumbType returning in the 2006 Melbourne Festival with “Voyage.”

By 2010, I was consulting artistic director at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Ryoji was living in Paris, I commissioned an immersive installation entitled,  “the transfinite” which premiered in April of 2011. Below is an excerpt of my introduction to this installation

“In ‘the transfinite,’ Ryoji Ikeda takes the pursuits and structures of mathematics as one ‘material’ for his aesthetic and does so with monumental and poetic result. At the center of the work is his sonic and visual re-purposing of binary code: 0 and 1. These numbers form the string codes used to represent all information in the digital world. While few of us understand just how the intricacies of this works, we are impacted by it in every conceivable way and on a daily basis.

Ikeda is drawn to that which is at the edge of comprehensibility and human perception and he distills it into an experience we can viscerally and physically connect to. In so doing, he also offers us a tangible glimpse into the sublime purity that exists within mathematics.”

I think this continues to provide insight into his continuing explorations, now involving the language of physics, and Einstein’s theory: “superposition.”

Having with Ryoji for many years, I am interested in his return to the incorporation of live performers on the stage as a part of his immersive sonic and visual environments. So too, the conjoining of his work within the legacy of Royce Hall itself. A stage where the multiple languages and lineages of art, poetry, poetic and scholarly thought are steeped into its history located within the confines of a major research institution known worldwide for its contributions to mathematics and data.

I think it is worthy of mention, Einstein himself stood on this very same stage, a fact I cannot wait to share with Ryoji.

In both cases, and certainly the many other artists, scholars and innovators who have spanned the distance in between these two men and their ephemeral footprints – this is a place where we illuminate the existence of endless possibility.

Thank you for being here.


Superpositions and Hyphens

One of the beautiful things artists do is open up this doorway of thought that invites us, compels us, inspires us, challenges us to think about our way of being in the world, our way of looking at the world, our definition of ourselves as it relates to the world and to each other.

Sometimes perhaps we stride through that doorway eagerly. Other times maybe we’re sucked through it by forces beyond our control or comprehension.

We think, just perhaps, some of the artists on our coming season will create both scenarios. It’s an interesting idea, this concept of self-definition, of connection to space and time, to memory and to other people.  It’s already happening to us as we’ve launched our upcoming season and begun talking to each other and audiences about what is to come.

Very few humans would define themselves as one thing at one time.  We are all many things simultaneously, constantly (hopefully) shedding preconceptions and habits and developing new ones as we learn and experience new things.

Artists are very good at shaping things– at inhabiting more than one concept, one artistic medium or expression at a time.

Through art we find our personal and collective superposition—that concept of a combination of two or more physical states to form a new physical state.

Why shouldn’t art make us think in terms of quantum physics like this? Art often agitates us in more than one state of being—often inspiring simultaneous emotional and intellectual reactions.  It’s marvelously esoteric to think about, and yet also a concept that will come to life visually and viscerally when we present the L.A. solo debut of Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose piece superposition uses the concepts of data—of the literal 1s and 0s that make up digital communication and explodes it into a source of poetic thought comprised of sound and visuals.

Ryoji_Superposition (4)

This train of thought also leads us to Art Speigelman, who in his presentation Wordless! will use words and music to explore the evolution and power of the graphic novel format.

Art has described himself as a hyphen between words and visuals. A thing that simultaneously creates space between two words and also connects them to form another word with a new or different meaning—a superposition.

As a presenter, that’s an apt description of us too. We hold that space between an artist and the audience that experiences it. At the same time, that space is what builds the bridge that connects the two, creating in that moment its own unique position in time.

And there are many such moments to come. We’re looking forward to it.

Join us.