To “See” the Sound in Ryoji Ikeda's Digital Universe | UABB EXHIBITS Vol. 15


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The 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) (hereinafter referred to as “UABB”) themed “Urban Interactions” was officially opened on December 22nd at the two main venues at Futian High Speed Railway Station and the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE). The exhibition consisted of two sections, namely “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City”. Nine sub-venues in the different districts of the city well interacted with the two main venues, completing an organically interactive network throughout the city. On August 19, 2020, the 8th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) officially closed online.

More than 140 exhibits presented by over 280 participants from 24 countries and regions explored the evolving relationship between future lives, technological innovation and urban cities. This volume of UABB EXHIBITS brings you an introduction of data.matrix [n°1-10], an exhibit from section “Ascending City”, which is also one of the five excellent works that were awarded the Public Award of 2019 UABB.


data.matrix [n°1-10]


Venue: Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning

Section: Ascending City

Sub Section: Empowering Citizens in Progressive Cities

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Ryoji Ikeda, Japan’s leading electronic composer and visual artist, was born in 1966 in Gifu, Japan. Now he lives and works in Paris, France and Kyoto, Japan. As one of the few international artists working convincingly across both visual and sonic media, he focuses on the essential characteristics of sound and visuals by means of both mathematical precision and aesthetics. He elaborately orchestrates sound, visuals, materials, physical phenomena and mathematical notions into immersive live performances and installations, presented in art institutions around the world.

Welcome to the data universe of Ryoji IKEDA!

As a prominent figure in Japanese electronic music and an avant-garde new media artist, Ryoji Ikeda has brought us his design “data. matrix (n°1-10)”, an audiovisual installation composed of a combination of pure mathematics and the vast sea of data present in the world. Entering a black room, visitors will be walking across ten micro screens corresponding to the ten chapters in Ryoji Ikeda’s “Datamatics” concert, which have been recomposed, re-orchestrated, and synchronized tightly based on the original minimal sound track.

©Ryuichi Maruo


Project: data.matrix [n°1-10]

Concept/composition: Ryoji IKEDA

Computer graphics/programming: Shohei MATSUKAWA, Norimichi HIRAKAWA, Tomonaga TOKUYAMA

With the kind support of Almine Rech gallery


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supercodex [live set]

How could the sound be seen? Throughout the evolution of music, never have we found any other ways to perceive music than with our ears. By studying sound as a “sense” rather than physical phenomena, Ikeda tries to show the relationship between the sense and human perception. For more than 20 years, he has remained focused on decomposing music, by using sine wave, white noise, interference signal, high and low frequency and other non-traditional components to produce sound, restore it to its original state, and create a “minimal” sound mode.

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Concert: 100 cymbals

courtesy of LA Phil, photo by Ian-Byers Gamber

Since 1994, Ryoji Ikeda has collaborated with Dumb Type, a coalition of multi-media artists, producing thereafter such electronic music albums as +/-, 0°C and Matrix. He is regarded by critics as one of the most avant-garde and innovative composers. His creations invite listeners to experience constant stimulation of senses in a world mingling sound, light and electricity, where abstract data, physical phenomena, installation arrangement, space and scenes can all be combined into mysterious and dazzling music and techno universe, bringing music back to its nature and to infinity.

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data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB

The “Big Data Era”, first proposed by world-renowned consulting firm McKinsey, is used to describe and define the massive data generated in the era of information explosion, and name the related technological development and innovation. “Big data-based” decision-making is also included among the 23 technological advances that will affect future human development. “Data. matrix (n°1-10)” is part of Ryoji Ikeda’s ongoing datamatics project (2006-), in which he explores the vast sea of data which permeates our world, the potential to perceive the invisible multi-substance of data, and how to capture and translate the message delivered by data into music. Ikeda's work is a series of experiments in various forms -audiovisual concerts, installations, publications and CD releases - that seek to materialize pure data.


data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB

“data.matrix [nº1-10]” comprises 10 videos, each of them focusing on a different usage of data:

data.matrix [nº1] portraying structures of errors, particular/peculiar patterns of computer malfunctions or crashes;

data.matrix [nº2] about data mapping the DNA sequence of chromosome nº11;

data.matrix [nº3] on various studies of codes (morse and the like);

data.matrix [nº4] centered on 3-dimensional mapping stars of the universe;

data.matrix [nº5] about the rotation of mathematically 4-dimensional hypercube and its grid pattern;

data.matrix [nº6] showing the molecular structure of a protein. Scanned components in red are 20 kinds of amino-acids;

data.matrix [nº7] is the DNA sequence, the whole sequence of human genome;

data.matrix [nº8] about 4-dimensional hypercube and nodes;

data.matrix [nº9] is a 2-dimensional mapping of the stars of the universe (5000 to 50000 light years radius)

data.matrix [nº10] showing sequences of meta-data of the datamatics project itself.


data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB



data verse @Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg

Through transmission, decomposition, and recreation, sound can not only be heard by the ear but also materialized into a unique visual experience for the visitors. Ikeda has developed a body of work that comprises large-scale audiovisual installations, exhibited worldwide at spaces such as Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, MOMA New York, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, among others. In an exhibition hall made up of modular walls in 2019 UABB, Ikeda arranged ten sets of “data” horizontally across a black room, creating infinite variations of combinations.


Continnum @Centre Pompidou, France

courtesy of Éditions Xavier Barral, photo by Patrick Gries

For Ikeda, the building structure of exhibition space, which plays a decisive role in the arrangement of the installations, is crucial. Visitors can move around freely in the exhibition space. Along with their movements, they can enjoy different audio-visual effects and feel the connection between time and space.


Continnum @Centre Pompidou, France

In 2018, Ikeda’s solo exhibition Continuum was on view at Centre Pompidou in France. The exhibition unveiled a new installation, where a black room and a white room divided the space into two opposing and complementary worlds. On one side, the artist made a “meta-composition”: a vertiginous mix of sound and visual data according to abstract mathematical laws. On the other, a sound installation consisting of huge loudspeakers, where visitors are invited to wander freely through Ikeda's pure musical world and play between shadows and pulsating patterns and lose themselves in a hypnotic environment.


point of no return @Eye Filmmuseum, Netherlands ©Ryoji Ikeda

Point of No Return (2018) is a new work made by Ikeda for EYE Film Institute Netherlands. It shows a black hole containing huge quantities of information, while the wall behind shows a very bright white hole. Ikeda once said: “Technically simple, but this new piece will be my most metaphysical work.” The artist creates a completely new metaphysical spiritual space based on the exhibition space, where visitors can perceive the environment and world they are in through sight and hearing.


Test Pattern @Times Square, New York ©Ryoji Ikeda

In addition to gallery setting, Ikeda also challenges open-air exhibitions. In 2014, his work “Test Pattern” was presented in Times Square, New York, where architecture became a stage, breaking through the creative boundary of sound, light and image.


Test Pattern @Times Square, New York ©Ryoji Ikeda



data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB

“I try to capture every detail of the world through creation”

The ideas behind Ikeda's audio-visual installations are a blend of mathematics, physics, biology, musicology and philosophy. The expansion of technology not only extends the senses, but also changes the aesthetic perception. In order to seek the meaning of human existence, we start to focus more seriously on the role of human beings in the future. Playing a leading role in the sub-section “Future Citizens”, Ikeda's work encompasses humanity and technology in a poetic yet striking way. In his work, human as an element is almost completely deconstructed, losing their essential form. Although the work avoids the presence of any entity or visible individual, the data it presents are still an extension of the individual or the collective.


data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB

As the work indicates, the human genome sequence coexists with the three-dimensional mapping of the universe, covering the data mapping of chromosome nº11 with various combinations of computer fault patterns. Data becomes a meta-language, opening up a new world and creating new realities, instead of mere simulation of realities. It operates between the real and virtual world, the micro level of individuals and the macro level of the whole, and especially between the massive amounts of data.


data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB

Ikeda described the relationship between technology and art in an interview: “Art and technology originally mean the same. Art, as a technology, was established in the Middle Ages, while at that time technology seemed to be far from what was called science. I always use technology with some criticism. There might be some more interesting interactions and interconnections between art and technology. Anyway, we can't live without technology.”



data.matrix [n°1-10] of 2019 UABB @Michael迈克


Supercodex [live set]

Photo by Una Zhou/X-LIVE

Venue: Shanghai, China

Time: Oct 2017

The Radar

©Ryoji Ikeda courtesy of Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Museum

Venue: Shanghai, China

Time: Nov 2014 to Mar 2015

Test Pattern

©Ryoji Ikeda courtesy of Marc Domage

©Ryoji Ikeda

©Ryoji Ikeda courtesy of Shanghai 21st FR.JPG

Venue: France

Time: Dec 2012


courtesy of Aichi Triennale 2010 (top, bottom left)

courtesy of Marc Domage (middle, bottom right)

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Venue: Nagoya,Japan

Time: Sept 2010



THEME | Urban Interactions

MAIN VENUE | Futian Railway Station & Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning

SUB-VENUE | Sha Tau Kok Bonded Zone of Yantian District, Bao'an International Art Exhibition Center, Qiaotou Community of Bao’ao District, Ban Xue Gang Hi-Tech Zone of Longgang District, Guanlan Ancient Market of Longgang District, Guangming Cloud Valley, Dapeng Fortress of Dapeng New District, Xichong of Dapeng New District, and Qianhai Cooperation Zone