In Ryoji Ikeda’s piece, Supersymmetry, the artist explores the concepts of quantum physics through two separate installations that act as one piece. One element of this exhibition is dubbed Supersymmetry[experience] and is focused primarily on immersing the viewer in Ikeda’s world of musical composition based on physics equations. In this environment there are two 65 by 2 foot horizontal video screens that run parallel to one another on opposite walls of a dark room. Below these screens are 20 monitors that interpret the images being displayed above and generate a visualization of the analysis being performed on the successive flow of data that is pulsing through the system above. This constant communication and reinterpretation on the data involved in this piece manifests itself not only through visual display, but also through powerful audio compositions derived by Ikeda. The audio components of this piece create a link between the mathematical models and musical composition, giving the viewer a deeper sense of immersion in the rapid flows of data and analysis in the space surrounding them.
The second portion of the installation, titled Supersymmetry[experiment], extends the highly technical nature of quantum theory into a physical space that displays these concepts. Three light boxes, which emanate powerful white light, contain particles that move with the slightly changing inclination of the boxes they are enclosed in. Each of the three boxes contains a different medium for the particles to navigate, creating three completely different physical interactions. Around each box, red lasers sense data from the particles’ orientation and feed the information into a system which transforms that data into an audio piece.
The Supersymmetry experience is described by The Vinyl Factory as:
“An intense exploration of the intersections between music and visual art through mathematics, quantum mechanics and logic, the work draws on Ikeda’s residency at Centre For Nuclear Research (CERN). The world’s largest particle physics research institute, CERN is currently testing ‘supersymmetry’, a theoretical mathematical model that helps explain why particles have mass and the basis for Ikeda’s work." ((2/13/15) RYOJI IKEDA AND THE VINYL FACTORY PRESENT SUPERSYMMETRY AT BREWER STREET CAR PARK)
The concepts that these mathematical equations explore are incredibly tangible but hard to comprehend for anyone who has not spent time at the Center For Nuclear Research. Ikeda successfully takes his knowledge of particle physics and audiovisual performance to impress upon the viewer the immersive nature of these studies. While it is hard to comprehend the meaning of the data flashing across the screens in the experience portion of the installation, the dark room, complemented by powerful visual and audio compositions, instills an awe inspiring sense of the all encompassing nature of this branch of science. The experiment piece of this exhibition serves as an encapsulation of what goes on around us at all times, and gives the viewer a simplified physical representation that compliments the disorienting mathematically based component.
Many of Ikeda’s works are focused around the manifestation of complex mathematical process’ as audiovisual experiences. In the piece data.tron, mathematical equations used in performing predictive statistical analyses are utilized to generate a wall of calculated values that change to the pace of the ambient rhythm. Similar to Supersymmetry, this piece is displayed in a dark room with a harsh white projection being cast on the wall. Both pieces are very architectural in the way that they utilize large portions of each room. The scale of these projections is effectively used by Ikeda to signify the immersive nature of the equations he is dissecting, and their prevalence in the world around us. Supersymmetry could be seen as an extension of Ikeda’s projects like data.tron in the way that it not only visualizes the equations, but also analyzes the resulting data from each equation’s output.
Ikeda’s heavy involvement in data audiovisualization is similar to visualizations carried out in a project by Sosolimited, titled Set Top Box. Where Ikeda’s work sets to promoting deeper understanding of quantitative measures, Sosolimited delves into more qualitative analysis of media streams, trying to pick out patterns in popular soap opera dialogues. Soso limited uses a large projection accompanied by a monitor below, similar to Ikeda, and the room has the same dark and ambient qualities of Supersymmetry, with an acute focus on the data being mined. While Supersymmetry looks to impart a deeper understanding of the complex data involved in the sciences, Sosolimited seeks to visualize the emotions being presented on the screen, not to further our understanding of the emotions being displayed, but to present it from a unique viewpoint.
Learn more about these pieces:
-Supersymmetry: Read more at The Vinyl Factory
-data.tron: Read more at Transmediale
-Set Top Box: Read more at Sosolimited
-Brewer Street Car Park, London, UK (23 April - 31 May, 2015)