Ryoji Ikeda 05.30.11

I HAVE MET MANY SCIENTISTS THROUGH MY WORK WITH NASA, and I am fascinated by the scales they work with, from molecules to the expanse of the universe. They are similar to artists in many ways, but they think beyond the conceptual. They can easily break the laws of nature through their practice and create an entirely new set of rules to follow. In that way, their work is very much like a poet or a musician.

Music and math are brothers. I have been obsessed by mathematical beauty for year, but I never actually never really studied it. I dropped out of my university and didn’t attend art or music school. I read a lot of philosophy books when I was young, but I get bored with them now. When I listen to classical music, like Bach, it’s so mathematically beautiful, I understand the relationship. It feels natural for me, as a musician, to dive into the mathematical world.

Over the last decade, I started to compose materials as installations and now I am composing data. The structure at the Armory, and thinking about the space, is also part my practice as a composer. But I have never been trained as a classical composer. I can’t read scores, so instead of violins, violas, and pianos, I am always making my own score, using pixels, color temperature, sine wave, square wave, triangle waves, and the ratio and proportion of screen. I like to orchestrate everything so it all operates at the same time.

I need the people to stand in the middle of this piece, on the floor, and notice the other visitors, as a silhouette because they are the performers. There is no correct position to see the piece, the corner or at the edge, and of course, since there is a huge wall, people who just enter the space and turn around to gauge their surroundings, is also really interesting.

Sound shouldn’t be a slave to the visual. It has to be more democratic. My process can be very abstract or highly conceptual, with much back-and-forth from brain to hand. It is in this way that I consider myself different than visual artists, because I deal with sound and music as a vehicle for experience. This comes from my nature as a musician, you see, without an audience my work is nothing.

Ryoji Ikeda

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