Japanese artist sculpts space with sound and light

Fri Feb 3, 2012 12:08pm EST
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - A blindingly white room filled with a single wave of sound contrasts with a dark room that is pierced by a cone of light in the first German solo exhibition of Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda.

Ikeda, known for his electronic sound compositions and audiovisual installations, created the works specifically for the two vast symmetrical upper halls of Berlin's contemporary art museum, the Hamburger Bahnhof.

The exhibition's title "db" (decibel abbreviated) refers to this symmetry and to the polar opposites such as bright and dark, full and empty, that fascinate him and run throughout his artwork.

"You can't see music or touch the light, but it fills the whole space," he told Reuters in an interview. "I made the space extreme, to open you up."

Ikeda, 45, frequently explores how to sculpt space with sound and light in his work and talks of his "architectural" projects. In Paris and Barcelona, for example, he has projected clusters of light beams into the sky, like skyscrapers of luminosity.

Ikeda's installations appear minimalist, with the objects --a loudspeaker and a searchlight-- taking up only a fraction of the vast space. Each hall comprises 700 square meters.

Yet the artist calls them "maximalist" as the intense shows of light and sound fill and transform the entire space, blending out all else and engulfing the spectator.

"The big speaker emits just one tone but it fills the space and this sound seems to come from all directions," he said, referring to the white room. "As you move through the space, you create an oscillation in the sound, your own music."   Continued...