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Exhibition: Ryoji Ikeda π, e, ø, reflections on infinity

Text by CLOT Magazine

A new exhibition by Japan’s leading electronic composer and visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda, at Almine Rech Gallery in London. His performances and exhibitions always come highly recommended.

Japan’s leading electronic composer and visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda focuses on the essential characteristics of sound itself and that of visuals as light by means of both mathematical precision and aesthetics. Ikeda has gained a reputation as a unique artist working across both visual and sonic media. He elaborately orchestrates sound, visual materials, physical phenomena and mathematical notions into immersive live performances and installations.

Ryoji Ikeda’s exhibition title π, e, ø stands for three important mathematical constants

  • π (pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter)
  • e (the base of the natural logarithm)
  • ø (phi, golden ratio: a+b/a = a/b), all of which are infinite.

Infinity has perplexed many but also greatly inspired artists. Ikeda endeavours to reconcile the essence and idea of infinity through various practices and mediums and to orchestrate these into a single symphonic materiality. Through the use of mathematical vocabulary, the artist seeks to present infinity in a visual way.

The works on paper,  multiple variations of 1×1 surfaces of white and black from series of numbers,  the transcendental and the irrational, are exhaustively visualised in decimal expressions reaching 1.25 million digits a piece. These signs are beyond the limits of human comprehension or experience and must be taken for wonders — apparitions of ominous and numinous beauty. A restrained elegance and minimalism reign throughout, but the monochromatic surfaces belie the furious richness and staggering detail within.

More silent epiphanies are present in related works that elegantly visualise silence and time. 0’10” shows the numerical countdown from 10 to 0 that precedes films, making physically manifest the immaterial and temporal notion of ten seconds of 16mm film. Similarly, the work 4’33’, which consists of the physical equivalent of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of blank 16mm film with time code, clearly references John Cage’s hugely philosophical meditation on the impossibility of silence.

(Media by Almine Rech Gallery)
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