Ryoji Ikeda at Hamburger Bahnhof
Posted: Jan 31, 2012
Works of Music by Visual Artists
Composition | Exhibition
28 January–9 April 2012
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
Invalidenstr. 50-51, 10557 Berlin
T–F 10–6, Sat 11–8, Sun 11–6
Japanese composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda has conceived an exhibition for the Hamburger Bahnhof that, for the first time, compositionally unites the two symmetrical halls on the upper level of the museum’s east and west wings. The exhibition’s title "db" (abbr. for decibel) refers to this symmetry while simultaneously indicating the complementary relationship between the two exhibition spaces. Ikeda has designed the white room and the black room as counterparts, not only physically (brightness, color), but also conceptually and perceptually. The project is a composition in which time and space are shaped through the most minimal use of sound, light and visual elements. It is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Germany.
The eponymous work "db" (2012) is centrally placed in both halls. In one room, it consists of a black super-directional parabolic loudspeaker that projects a pure wave of sound into the white space; in the other room, a powerful searchlight projects a beam of white light into the black space. The sound in the white room is reduced to a standing sine wave, the simplest musical building block. Every movement by a visitor alters the sonic field, allowing it to be experienced individually. The beam of light in the black room is directed through a hole in a wall at one end of the space and thus becomes perceptible as a white circle. The beam consists of pure white light that, analogously to white noise, contains all the colors of the spectrum. Here, too, visitors’ movements alter the space; whenever they cross the beam of light, reflections illuminate the dark room.
Two other work complexes in the exhibition, "the irreducible [nº1-10]" (2009) and "the transcendental [nº4]" (2012), also complement each other. In the white room, the ten-part pigment print series "the irreducible", which consists of over 1 million digits each rendered in black on black stands in contrast to the ten video projections of "the transcendental" in the black room. There, a transcendental number consisting of an infinite number of digits is luminously represented, zooming by at an ultra-fast frame rate while generating sounds in real time. Both works involve the representation of infinity based on mathematical research. Here the visitor can see respectively hear a tiny fragment of this endlessness in each space, as if through a window frame in the wall.
Since the mid-1990s, Ryoji Ikeda (born 1966, lives in Paris) has been among the foremost international composers and artists in the realm of cutting-edge digital technologies and their integration into visual and acoustic presentations. His works are based on spatiotemporal compositions in which the musical and visual material is reduced to a minimum: sine waves, sound pulses, pixels of light and numerical data. He investigates sound, time and space on the basis of mathematical methods and transforms them in his concerts and installations into an intense experience for the audience.
The exhibition "db" by Ryoji Ikeda is the latest project in the "Works of Music by Visual Artists" series, which Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V. has presented in collaboration with the Nationalgalerie Berlin since 1999 and, since 2002, also with MaerzMusik, the contemporary music festival of the Berliner Festspiele. Since the start of the series, musical works and installations have already been presented by: Hanne Darboven, Yves Klein, Hermann Nitsch, Rodney Graham, Stephen Prina, Lawrence Weiner / Peter Gordon, Christian Marclay, Käthe Kruse, Carsten Nicolai, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Cory Arcangel, and Egill Sæbjörnsson & Marcia Moraes.
A project by Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V. and Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. In collaboration with Berliner Festspiele / MaerzMusik 2012.
Made possible by funding from Ernst Schering Foundation and Hauptstadtkulturfonds. With thanks to Sky Light, Paris and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo.
Curators: Ingrid Buschmann and Gabriele Knapstein
Press Contact: Achim Klapp, Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V., Tel. +49 30-257 97 0 16, email@example.com
© Ryoji Ikeda
Photo by Ryuichi Maruo
Courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM).