To enter Ryoji Ikeda’s major exhibition in Helsinki, visitors first descend the white staircase of the Amos Rex museum into a brightly lit foyer. From there, they pass into the dim confines of a 2,200-square-meter domed underground gallery space. This transition from light to darkness induces a brief feeling of sensory deprivation as the eyes adjust. A continuous industrial hum, like the churning of unseen machinery combined with the vibrations from an intermittent synth bass, leaks from overhead speakers.
Split into four sections, the Japanese composer and multimedia artist’s exhibition features five works that perceive the world through the audio-visual translation of information: “data-verse 1,” “data-verse 2,” “data.gram [n°5]” (a reconfiguration of installations from Ikeda’s “datamatics” project), “mass” and “spin.” While the other works have previously been presented in locations such as the Venice Biennale and CERN Science Gateway in Geneva, “mass” and “spin” are two new site-specific installations created for the Helsinki exhibition to take advantage of Amos Rex’s unique interior space.
“Mass,” an installation projected onto a large square on the floor, presents a stroboscopic video of black, concentric rings rapidly expanding outward to fill the square; the rings are pursued from the center of the projection by dark circles like black holes swallowing light. This radiating battle between shapes plays out until a black-out climax collapses upon itself, pausing briefly before new circles appear to begin the process again. The effect is hypnotic, acting as a repeated prompt — a visual mantra.