Elusive Artist Ryoji Ikeda Wants You to Bask in His Data-Verse


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It’s hard to describe the experience of a work by Ryoji Ikeda. The Japanese artist has worked as an experimental musician, performer, researcher, and art-maker, and he brings it all together for immense, immersive installations that fill the senses. But while the word “immersive” has come to connote Instagram bait, Ikeda’s works are anything but lowbrow. The experience of a Ryoji Ikeda work is both brainy and very visceral, intellectual and awe-inspiring.

With a background in experimental sound, Ikeda puts you in touch with sonic experiences that your body probably hasn’t had to process before. With an interest in science and mathematics, his visuals often draw on huge data sets, giving you vast walls of data flickering at you faster than you can process, as if tracing the sense of a collective intelligence trying to sync up with the universe. Reviewing a show of his work in New York some years ago, Artnet News Senior Art Critic, Ben Davis once called it a kind of “cosmic minimalism.”

This fall has been a big one for Ikeda. In Switzerland during Art Basel, he staged for his gallery, Almine Rech, “data-verse 3,” the closing chapter of a project commissioned 6 years ago by Audemars Piguet Contemporary, the art program of Ikeda’s long-time watchmaking patrons. The product of decades of research on sound and image, it animates data from CERN, NASA and the Human Genome Project. In London, the “data-verse” trilogy was shown together for the first time as the centerpiece of the largest-ever exhibition of his installations at 180 Studio, which drew crowds.

Artnet News European Market Editor Naomi Rea, got a chance to experience both the London and Basel shows and a live performance given by Ikeda in London. Ikeda doesn’t do many interviews, but at Art Basel last month, she got a chance to sit down with the artist about his thoughts on what he does.

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