Light art is riding high at the moment and many artists are also appropriating technology into their artwork. Tatsuo Miyajima has combined both trends by using numerical displays made up of LEDs to create bright and hypnotic installations.
The majority of this exhibition is made up of networks of LED displays with numbers in different colours counting either up or down at different speeds. Miyajima has created what he terms ‘living organisms’ by linking these displays to each other, so the speed of each display is determined by the others next to it. It’s programmed in such a manner that even the artist has no idea how the numbers will behave.
The result is oddly meditative. The exposed wiring gives some impression that we’re inside the mind of an artificial intelligence. Yet despite the complexity and seemingly random behaviour of the numbers, we couldn’t quite see the work as a computerised ‘brain’.
The last room is the highlight. It features what appears to be a padded sensory deprivation chamber, known as the life palace. On the inside it contains LED displays counting down. Climb inside, shut the door and bathe in the blue glow of the numbers.
It’s a cathartic experience and the countdowns are relaxing rather than ominous. Most retreats are about getting away from technology and it’s an interesting contradiction to see that technology can provide this respite. Sitting inside the heart of a giant machine makes for an enjoyable, if slightly eerie, experience.
This is a unique exhibition and though repetitive at times, the life palace is a highlight that makes this show worth visiting.
Tatsuo Miyajima: I-Model is on at Lisson Gallery, 27 Bell Street, NW1 until 2 November. Also on at Lisson Gallery are Liu Xiaodong’s paintings of global communities. Entrance to both exhibitions is free.