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Le Laboratoire presents for the first time in Europe a personal exhibition about the sublime and infinity of the Japanese artist andb major figure of the sound and visual electronic scene Ryoji Ikeda Ikeda who explores the interference between reality and unexplored dimensions. From his correspondence with the American mathematician Benedict Gross, he has conceived a work where the definition of the sublime blends with the immateriality of infinity. V≠L
Ryoji Ikeda & Benedict Gross

11 October 2008 - 12 January 2009
Le Laboratoire, Paris

Ryoji Ikeda in Paris..... datamatics [ver.2.0] Composed & directed by Ryoji Ikeda
21 + 22 Nov 2008
Centre Pompidou

Dans la nuit, les Images
18 - 31 Dec 2008
Grand Palais, Paris

Check out details www.lelaboratoire.org


About a common language on aesthetics

"I do feel that mathematicians are somehow discovering this perfect world, and it would be nice if artists were discovering a perfect world, but if you look at the history of art it really just goes here and it goes there. It seems to depend on a great vision of someone. We might not have had Cubism, we might not have had the paintings of Caravaggio, we might not have had these things. But with mathematics you somehow feel like you’re uncovering these beautiful things that have been laid out beforehand, and so there’s really only one way to go, at least I believe that." Benedict Gross in conversation with David Edwards (scientist, writer and founder of Le Laboratoire), August 2008, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

The exhibition

Le Laboratoire presents for the first time in Europe a personal exhibition of the Japanese artist and major figure of the sound and visual electronic scene Ryoji Ikeda.

Ikeda explores the interference between reality and unexplored dimensions. From his correspondence with the American mathematician Benedict Gross, he has conceived a work where the definition of the sublime blends with the immateriality of infinity. Benedict Gross, a number theorist at Harvard University, contributed to this mathematical and philosophical sphere. His encounter with Ryoji Ikeda suggests the possibility of a common aesthetic language for art and science.

According to Benedict Gross, “when you discover a mathematical truth, everything immediately becomes clear. It’s so easy to understand. You don’t want to touch it. The beauty of mathematics is just a pleasure to behold”. What is this immensity hidden behind number? And what if the multitude of figures making up a number was made palpable... Would this make infinity accessible? Would the immaterial be then rendered material?

Ryoji Ikeda's intention

As an artist/composer, my intention is always polarized by concepts of “the beautiful and the sublime”. To me, beauty is crystal; rationality, precision, simplicity, elegance, delicacy. The sublime is infinity; infinitesimal, immensity, indescribable, ineffable. The purest beauty is the world of mathematics. Its perfect assemblage amongst numbers, magnitudes and forms persist despite us. The aesthetic experience of the sublime in mathematics is awe-inspiring. It is similar to the experience we have when we confront the vast magnitude of the universe, which always leaves us openmouthed. The aim of this project is to engage in dialogue with the mathematician Benedict Gross and other number theorists to find a common language on aesthetics. “ Ryoji Ikeda


fig.: Ryoji Ikeda "data.tron" (2007)

Photo : Ryuichi Maruo (courtesy of Yamaguchi Center of Arts and Media)

Since 1995, Ikeda has been intensely active through concerts, installations, and recordings, integrating sound, acoustics and sublime imagery. In the artist’s works, music, time and space are shaped by mathematical methods as Ikeda explores sound as sensation, pulling apart its physical properties to reveal its relationship with human perception. Ikeda has gained a reputation as one of the few international artists working convincingly across both visual and sonic media. Using computer and digital technologies to the utmost limit, his audiovisual concerts datamatics (2006 – present), C4I (2004 – 2007) and formula (2000 – 2006) suggest a unique orientation for our future multimedia environment and culture. His acclaimed installations data.tron [prototype] (2007), data.film nº1-a (2007), data.spectra (2005), spectra [for terminal 5, jfk] (2004), spectra II (2002), db (2002) and his first large-scale, public arena work spectra [amsterdam], (a commission for Dream Amsterdam 2008), continue to diffuse Ikeda’s aesthetic of ‘ultra minimalism’ to the art world.


Benedict Gross about the collaboration

Benedict Gross is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. Along with mathematician Joe Harris, he co-authored The Magic of Numbers (2007, Prentice Hall), an example-driven book elucidating the joy and wonder of mathematics to a non-mathematical audience. Gross served as Dean of Harvard College from 2003-2007 but has since happily returned to full-time mathematical research, in the fields of number theory and representation theory.

Benedict Gross about the collaboration with Ryoji Ikeda: “I first heard from David Edwards that Ryoji wanted to meet with me last December; we first met when he visited Boson in January. I was intrigued by his work, and by the depth of his questions about mathematics. We spent several hours discussing orders of infinity, fractional dimension, and the work of Georg Cantor. It was surprising to me how two people could come at the same material from such different viewpoints. I’ve never worked with an artist like Ryoji before. Our collaboration has made the subject even more interesting for me”.


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About Ryoji Ikeda

Ikeda has exhibited and performed at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2005 (Melbourne); MIT, 2006 (Massachusetts); Centre Pompidou 2004, 2007 and La Villette 2002 (all Paris); Sónar 2006 (Barcelona); Tate Modern Turbine Hall 2006 (all London); Irish Museum of Modern Art 2007 (Dublin); Auditorium Parco della Musica 2003 (Rome); ICC 2005, Tokyo International Forum 2006 (Tokyo); Art Beijing 2007 (Beijing); Göteborg Biennial 2003 (Göteborg); Mutek Festival 2007 (Mexico City); Le Fresnoy 2007 (Tourcoing) and Paradiso (opening event, Dream Amsterdam 2008) ...

In 2001, Ikeda was awarded the Ars Electronica Golden Nica prize in the digital music category and he was short-listed for a World Technology Award in 2003 www.ryojiikeda.com.

About Le Laboratoire

Initiated by the Franco-American scientist and writer David Edwards, Le Laboratoire is an experimental art and design centre located in the heart of Paris. Here artists and designers conceive and develop ideas in collaboration with scientists working at the cutting edge of science today. These ‘experiments’ produce unconventional art and design exhibitions that reflect the work-in-progress nature of the creative process. The exhibitions invite the public into this analytical and intuitive, deductive and inductive creative process that is shared by artists and scientists alike.


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