Ryoji Ikeda is a Japanese leading electronic composer and visual artist working currently in France. His work focuses on the essential characteristics of sound and light. His work involves high attention to detail and mathematical precision. He works in visuals and music including live performances and installations. His work is exhibited worldwide including spaces such as Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Singapore Art Museum, Park Avenue Armory New York, Carriage works Sydney, MONA Museum Hobart – Tasmania among others


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photo: Ryuichi Maruo, courtesy of Yamaguchi Centre for Arts and Media [YCAM]

His song Data .Microhelix, (2007) in the album Dataplex is done in his own personal style fitting in with his previous Dance/electronic genre. The album Dataplex even includes optical data that a lot of CD players can’t handle; a warning about it is included in the packaging.

This CD contains specific waveform data that performs a data-read test for optical drives. The last track will cause some CD players to experience playback errors, with no damage to equipment”.
—Warning sticker attached to the inside of Dataplex

Ryoji Ikeda explores what sounds he can make when just using electrics and mathematical algorithms and plays with them together to achieve his distinct like sounds. The song Data Microhelix is a sick concoction of waves, bleeps, scratches, percussive effects, and white noise. There are noises so high and low they’re barely audible, it has even been argued that there are some noises that are actually beyond the range of human hearing. The song started out silent with static sounds the kind of sound you would relate to getting pins and needles in your foot. The static noises stopped and started over and over again creating a rhythm which felt like a constant vibration going through your body giving you tingles. There is a steady and very soft beat underneath all the high screeches which makes it quite soothing almost hypnotizing but at the same time this is the type of music that belongs at an insane dance rave.  At 1:57 minutes into the song I paused the music and removed my head phones and my ears were still tingling and throbbing with the underneath beat. The song lasts only 3:16 minutes and ends quite abrupt like an electronic has been pulled out the socket that wasn’t ready to come out. This song had noises that pierce, noises that screech, noises that make perfect noise, noises that make no sense.

“Real–time program computations and data scanning are employed to create an extended new sequence that is a further abstraction of the original work. The technical dynamics of the piece, such as its extremely fast frame rates and variable bit depths, continue to challenge and explore the thresholds of our perceptions”.  (http://www.ryojiikeda.com/project/datamatics/)


When listening to Ryoji Ikeda work, I spent the whole time thinking about how I could describe or visually expression a hearing impaired person the weight of his music after much research I found the video artist Charles Atlas’s. Atlas is an innovative figure in film and video for over four decades he has stretched the limits of his medium into a far-reaching range of genres and techniques. He is well known from audience for considering the human body in motion but his most recent work “Painting by numbers” (2011) has taken an abstract turn and has caught my attention. Atlas created a three-dimensional installation in which numbers swirl around the room in kaleidoscopic fashion. As audiences enter and leave the room, they too engage in a swirl of choreographed motion. As a filmmaker, Atlas has spent many hours sequencing frames using time code much like Ryoji Ikeda does with mathematical codes to create his music. Both artists are extremely innovative and explore the use of time as a medium and are forever pushing the human boundaries of viewing art. Atlas’s numbers appear random and chaotic just like Ryoji Ikeda music but all the choreography is sequenced, it is not predictable. The idea of surprise is imperative to both these artists as they play on tension the audience feels and the suspense of what is coming next. As an audience walking into a room and being a part of Atlas’s moving art piece whilst listening to Ryoji Ikeda powerful and hypnotic soundtrack would be the impeccable balance of perceptions of chaos and order.


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Artist Interview: Ryoji Ikeda, creator of superposition – UMS – University Musical Society. 2017. Artist Interview: Ryoji Ikeda, creator of superposition – UMS – University Musical Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ums.org/2014/10/08/artist-interview-ryoji-ikeda-creator-of-superposition/. [Accessed 1 May 2017].

MoMA. 2017. Charles Atlas. Painting by Numbers. 2011 | MoMA. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/187534?locale=en. [Accessed 2 May 2017].

PopMatters. 2017. Ryoji Ikeda: Dataplex | PopMatters. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.popmatters.com/review/ryoji_ikeda_dataplex/. [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Ryoji Ikeda  |  datamatics. 2017. Ryoji ikeda  |  datamatics. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ryojiikeda.com/project/datamatics/. [Accessed 1 May 2017].


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