How many ultra minimal Japanese electronic music composers does it take to change a Melbourne light bulb? Just one it seems, the slow arrival of Melb-spring coinciding with the presentation of a grand total of 3 separate stroboscopic events by renowned glitchmeister, Ryoji Ikeda.
Vat Ist Ryoji?
Let’s try an elevator pitch to get it out of the way quickly. Between floors blurt for would-be film producers:
“Okay so Japan is big at the moment, right? They’re making all the craziest gadgets.. their creative artists are spitting out all the craziest culture at the moment.. Why is that? It’s because… they understand technology. They’re obsessed with it – completely fetishise it – but yet they also have this deep, zen side that let’s them get inside it. What we want to do – is make a film about one person that embodies both of these sides, a kind of Matrix character if you like, who tries to get underneath the skin of sound itself, through both installations and musical compositions that leverage ultrasonics, ‘micropscopic’ methods of sound engineering and the physical properties of sound. He’s even released an album of his own called ‘Matrix’, alongside 5 others on the CCI Recordings,Touch and Staalplaat labels. And let’s not forget ‘The Matrix’ itself was inspired by the much earlier manga film ‘Ghost in the Shell’. Think etc etc ” ( Cut to producer striding through opening elevator doors. )
(With permission from the Japanese Society of Cliches)
Round One :
Spectra II & data.spectra @ ACMI ‘White Noise’ Exhibition
Like wandering through a set from TRON, even the presentation of the ‘White Noise’ exhibition itself is an interesting melding of architecture, sound, light and minimal aesthetics. Within the actual exhibits though, an unfolding of artists interrogating data and noise, our man Ryoji has two pieces.
In 2004 Ryoji was commissioned to develop ‘Spectra’ – a site specific installation for a tunnel within New York’s John F Kennedy Airport, allowing people moving through the tunnel to actively influence the ever-changing visual and audio experience that evolved around them. ‘Spectra II’ is a follow on from this, a narrow, ceiling covered corridor that allows only one visitor at a time. This generally means a queue and anticipation for the work, but the wait is rewarded with an oddly interactive experience, your position in the corridor changing the minimal sounds and lights in an effective way. data.spectra is a less engaging piece, using a very long and narrow strip to experiment with information structures.
Round Two :
formula [ver.2.3] @ Arts Centre, Playhouse Melbourne – 10 & 11 October
A mostly empty white stage is rapidly bombarded by sound frequencies and projections. From a minimal palette of line geometries and flashes of video montage, Ryoji continues his technically sophisticated experiments in abstract, heavily synchronised sensory overload.
Round Three :
C4I @ Arts Centre, Playhouse Melbourne – 10 & 11 October
C4I is both a concert and a film that uses data as its material and theme, highlighting the ways in which data shapes our understanding of the world. Video images of landscapes are progressively abstracted into a language of data. Facts, figures and diagrams are used in a montage with dazzling graphic impact. Text excerpts elegantly punctuate the on-screen projections. Again abstraction and sound-image synchrony are explored with technical precision. And again, comes with a warning for any vaguely strobe-a-phobic folks, to steer clear.
‘White Noise’ is on until mid October : www.acmi.net.au
(See also essay by curator Mike Stubbs : white noise : a leap into the light.
Tickets & more info on C4I & formula [ver.2.3]: www.melbournefestival.com.au