Standing outside Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, after being amazed by the hyper-tight angles of the structure wrapped around - and forming - the building, one notices a myriad of tessellating shapes etched into its skin. This, of course, gives it an illusion of depth but also of texture that speaks to the idea that this building is not one solid slab but a mixture of many interconnecting parts. The museum is dedicated to the moving image and is currently hosting an exhibition by the artist Ryoji Ikeda (b.1966, Japan).
Inside the building one enters a darkened space lit almost only by the works on display. The atmosphere is quiet to start with but there is a feeling that concentration is being requested. This is absolutely the case in works such as ‘datamatics’ (2006-8), whose surface shimmers and strains with the amount of ‘information’ that is pumping on its surface. One can watch it as a whole, or concentrate on a tiny area and watch the minute changes therein.
It would be roughly true to say that ‘data’ (that is, computer generated data) is Ikeda’s material. But that would y only really describe the literal surface of his work. Data may be the constituent element but the effect - once conducted by Ikeda - is something completely different and often extends into the realm of magnificence. Ikeda’s work is remarkably physical; it has a physical effect on the body of the person in the gallery. Works such as ‘data.tron’ (2009) (which are vast in scale and dwarf the human form) resonate, pulse and ultimately envelope the viewer who stands in front of it. Other works such as ‘data.gram [no.1]’ (2018) is projected on the floor , so one can walk over and literally be submerged in the work itself.
Further into the show one encounters what could be construed as a giant pulsating lidless eye. The work ‘the point of no return’ (2018), a work specially created for Eye Filmmuseum, acts as another of Ikeda’s physical encounters, however, rather than gently wrapping the viewer in lace-like projections - as in ‘data.gram [no.1]’ - this one grabs you by the shoulders and vibrates you until one is forced to look away.
In some respects these works do feel as if they are alive, they have their own consciousness. Although what we are looking at could be ‘code’, or raw data streams, what one really feels is that they are witnessing a higher order of thinking and perhaps more importantly: processing or decision making. Furthermore it is the interpretation of small amounts of data, that, within a given context and various parameters, is sifted into different actions. some level Ikeda’s work is obviously and supeficially read as ‘robotic’, it is actually incredibly organic, living in fact; a sort of post-consciousness for the the digital age.