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  • Fiona Prior

Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything

Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything

Curated by MCA chief curator Rachel Kent

I walked into Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything feeling a little like an e-philistine, as I have recently both joined and retired from Face Book, realising that it wasn’t a platform for me.

‘Connect with Everything’ sounded like the endgame of the Face Book culture to me ‒ a kind of virtual portrait of the world’s inhabitants, complete with connections and separations in real time. In a way I was correct, for Miyajima’s work is definitely involved with the connectedness of humans. It goes deeper though, delving into the philosophy of being and, of course, its antithesis nothingness; while making apparent the greater cultural and environmental context in which our ‘connectness’ is located, the space/time dimension.

Central to Miyajima’s practice are numerical counters that count from 1 to 9 using light emitting diodes (LEDs). Presented en masse, in vast groupings with contrasting speeds and colours, Miyajima’s counters symbolise both the multitude of humanity as well as the individual, with their varied tempos and flashing colours. They also reflect time’s central importance in our lives and draw inspiration from Buddhist philosophy, with its exploration of mortality and human cycles of life, death and renewal.…. Yep, all that. And you feel it.

image: Mega Death (1999) courtesy of the artist, photographer Alex Davies and MCA

Miyajima is adamant that his art – and all art – requires an audience and that it is this interaction between the work and how it effects the viewer that is the art work.

In Miyajima’s works the numbers one to nine are life while zero is ‘death’, or ‘void’, or ‘swollen’. Mega Death (1999) surrounds you in an evening-blue room, with the led light numbers one to nine sparkling like stars. Suddenly and randomly all goes completely black, until slowly the sparkling numbers begin to reappear and we find ourselves again in the universe ‒ but one that is slowly returning from the darkness. (Mega Death is Miyajima’s tribute to the waste of innocent lives in the 20th century and created on the turn of this century, possibly with hope.)

In one room you will lie on your back and view a crimson sky of numerical stars (Arrow of Time (Unfinished Life), 2016); in another you will find a 20 feet long lotus pond full of sparkling numbers and goldfish (100 Time Lotus, 2008); and in another, a mass of coal is turned into a room-sized mountain while a miniature replica of one of the trains that transported the Holocaust victims circles the dark mass – those numbers continuing to flash from the darkness.

Every room and display of Miyajimas is a universe of ideas. Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything is Miyajima’s first exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Until 5 March 2017

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