A Japanese artist who started off doing street performance art, Tatsuo Miyajima sees his installations as performance objects, as he sees that art can only fulfill its function if it is viewed by the audience. His art has much overlap with sociology, especially social constructionism.
This exhibition showcases Miyajima’s work with counting devices made of Light Emitting Diode (LED), as symbolism for time, life and social connectedness.
The first image you see includes two works. In the foreground is “Pile Up Life (No. 2)” which commemorates the lives lost across Asia due to natural disasters, and in the background is “Diamond in You. (No. 8), made with stainless mirror, iron, electric wire.
The blue room is “Mega Death.” This work of art was created for the Venice Biennial in 1999. Miyajima was asked to represent the 20th Century. He saw that the defining feature was the death of so many people through world wars and nuclear bombs. The room begins dark and eventually all the numbers light up in this LED installation, signifying the lives destroyed by human conflict in the 20th Century – estimated at 167,000,000 people – the same population of Italy, France and England in 1997. The number zero is not in the room but rather is symbolised by the darkness that then resets the cycle and starts over.
The room with the train houses two intertwined works, “Time Train to the Holocaust 2008/2016” and “Counter Coal 2008/2016.” A black mountain of coal with red number LEDs is encircled by a toy train with blue numbers references the history of Recklinghausen, the central production area of coal in Germany, which was also a train line used to transport Jewish people to concentration camps during World War II.
The red room is “Arrow of Time” uses red LEDs to signify astronomy and time. The artist says of this work: “In everyday life, we tend to forget this reality so I would like to communicate that we live in moments that cannot be recovered.”
The artist: http://tatsuomiyajima.com/
The exhibition, now on at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: https://www.mca.com.au/miyajima/
Photos: Zuleyka Zevallos.