Art That Can Change Your Life: Ryoji Ikeda

Art That Can Change Your Life: Ryoji Ikeda

30th January 2014 // By warholst // The Arthouse


By Hannah Greethead

Art often baffles me. While I spend a great deal of my time looking at it, thinking, writing and talking about it, there is a lot of art out there that doesn’t really ‘do it for me’. It could be the short attention span I host, but to stand and stare at a sculpture or painting has never really done it for me. I’ve never been one to stand and stare at a work in the hopes that I will suddenly ‘get it’ and, if I’m honest, my limited attention doesn’t even allow me to try. So when I chance upon a work that breaks out of banality, that manages to totally envelop me and engage on a level that stimulates a multiplicity of senses, its hard not to get excited. Then I chanced upon the work of Ryoji Ikeda, that was more than exciting....


Ikeda produces large-scale projection based installations that combine mathematically produced ‘computer glitch’ style patterns with an equally electronic sounding soundtrack. My first Ikeda experience came in June when I managed to wangle myself a seat for the ‘one night only’ performance of Datamatics 2.0 (2006-08) for ISEA2013. I spent the following hour unable to look away from a mesmerising series of patterns; strings of numbers and infinite landscapes that glared off the screen in black, white and red. It wasn’t just my pupils that were going nuts, Ikeda’s rich and challenging visuals were accompanied by an equally intense score of electronic clicks, high pitched bleeps, bloops and twinkles. Datamatics 2.0 (2006-08) has since proved challenging to process; I still don’t think I can effectively convey what I think about the whole shebang, I just end up gushing.

More often than not, art feels monotonous. You get stuck with a feeling of déjà vu. Looking at work from the art world’s latest wunderkind, more often than not you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen it all before. But every now and then you strike it lucky and find that art that surprises you, giving you insight into wonderful minds or providing a sense of enlightenment by referencing new ideas or maybe just giving you a new experience. It’s this prospect, the potential for a sublime new experience that makes wondering through every gallery, filtering through the horrible and mediocre to get to the great worth it. It takes persistence, and a bit of luck, but eventually, you come across art that makes you fall in love. I might be a floozy, or maybe I’m just lucky, I’ve lost my heart to art a few times and Ryoji Ikdea now has a great big chunk of it