I had the distinct pleasure on Monday (and slight post-show-headache) of beholding the very loud, and very sharp audiovisual conjurings of Paris-based, Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, performing datamatics [ver.2.0]. A sell-out crowd at The Barbican Centre in London sat in silence (except for the occasional woo hoos at rare silent moments) as they were assaulted (in a good way) by data made visual.
A spare, black and white aesthetic (with occasional points of red or blue) featuring dancing vector line work and racing numerical characters moved around with a real sense of purpose/structure. I wanted to believe that it was pure data driving the visuals, like a ghost in the machine, but I suspect most of these were all constructs, ‘inspired’ by data.
I do need to read more about how Ikeda created these compositions, and what that data was behind it. The visuals come second, as I have read, and the music/sounds first. Some of ‘datascapes’ (have I made up a new term?!) were clearly based on astrological coordinates, for example. The positions of stars in our galaxy, were plotted one by one by one, appearing in 3D space as two axis scanned back and forth in the blackness.
For the most part, it was breath taking (AKA awesome!), and ever evolving, but there was a moment in the last quarter of the “performance” (he was there on a laptop), where we saw a kind of recap of the various moments that came before it, which disappointed me. That felt like Ikeda had run out of ideas, and had decided to do that “VJ thing” of resorting to a mashup of all the stuff in the pot. I would have preferred the show to go from beginning to end without any repetition, except for the repetition that was part of the overall vibe.
Anyway, it was inspiring. At times it felt like pure art. At other moments, it felt like vintage vector video games, or like sci-fi space ship screens, and lets not forget to mention the “music”. Glitching, pulsing, beeping, droning, fascinating.
I nearly skipped it because I’ve had too many deadlines lately – so glad I didn’t (note: click on these images to see them BIG, and click here to see the Barbican’s trailer for the show).