Jun 28 2013

Rational Sound: Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern (No 5)

by Michael Young

RYOJI IKEDA,Test Pattern (No 5), 2013. Photos by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific.

In early June, Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda premiered his strobing installation Test Pattern (No 5) at Sydney’s Carriageworks. In the ink dark warehouse, Ikeda pumps computer-generated sound at rock concert levels while flashing synchronized barcodes and binary patterns across the 10 × 40 meter floor space.

Ikeda, who lives in Paris, is a pioneer of minimalist electronic composition and is known for transforming computer data into spectacular visual and aural effects. With an infinite library of sounds at his disposal, he orchestrates an immersive son et lumière. The first moments in the space may be overwhelming, but with time, patterns emerge: taiko drums, blips of Morse code, the steady repetitive pulses of sonic radar and the white noise of interstellar space. There appears a structure, of sorts; the work brilliantly transforms the computer’s mute, raw data into a language Ikeda has made his own.

It is no surprise to learn that each composition evolves from Ikeda’s study of mathematics. “Music and mathematics are very much like sisters sharing invisible forms and values. When I make something, it is based on abstract mathematical principles,” he said at the opening.

Sound, Ikeda continued, “is a property of the physical world. Without the audience there is nothing. I only make half, and the audience makes the rest.”

This is the last weekend to see the Test Pattern at Carriageworks