Streams

Binary Code as Art: Ryoji Ikeda at the Park Avenue Armory

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A man looks at another screen (his phone) while in the installation. A man looks at another screen (his phone) while in the installation. (Julia Furlan/WNYC)

At first glance, Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda's new installation at the Park Avenue Armory might look and sound like white noise. As a series of bleeps and digital hiccups come through the speakers, projections flash in black and white on 45-foot screens underfoot as well as vertically.

The project, called "the transfinite," is part of a series of audio-visual works by Ikeda that Time Out New York music editor Steve Smith calls "datamatics."

Ikeda used data from projects at NASA and the Human Genome as well as others to make sounds and projections that give viewers the sense of vertiginous falling. As codes of binary coast up and down the massive screens and bars of black-and-white light roll past underfoot, it's only the viewer's shadow that seems grounded in reality. 

"The experience is kind of like being inside the Matrix if you remember those films," Smith said. "You get the sensation that there's binary code sort of flowing behind everything in nature and that somehow you've been allowed to glimpse underneath the surface and see the mathematics that surround us." 

Smith also likened Ikeda's work to giving the experience of being in a rave, and said two of his coworkers came back from Thursday's press preview looking overwhelmed.

"They were kind of speechless. Their eyes were really big and their jaws were hanging a little bit," he said. "They were still processing all of the stuff that this piece had confronted them with."

Ryoji Ikeda's "the transfinite" will be at the Park Avenue Armory from Friday, May 20 through June 11. 

 

Visitors experience the work barefoot, so as not to scuff up the surface underfoot that is prepared for the projection.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Visitors experience the work barefoot, so as not to scuff up the surface underfoot that is prepared for the projection.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
"If you're spiritually inclined, I suppose this is kind of proof that God is the ultimate mathemetician," said Steve Smith of Ikeda's work.
Seen from above, the installation can look almost like a laptop.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Seen from above, the installation can look almost like a laptop.
The thickness and darkness of the bars that pass shift perpetually. The only constant is the pace, which can make viewers feel like they are falling.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The thickness and darkness of the bars that pass shift perpetually. The only constant is the very fast pace, which can make viewers feel like they are falling.
On the other side of the first installation, which Ikeda calls
Julia Furlan/WNYC
On the other side of the first installation, which Ikeda calls "Test Pattern" is an installation with nine high-resolution screens in front of a wall of binary.

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