Ryoji Ikeda, the planck universe [macro] 2015. Martin Wagenhan ©ZKM | Karlsruhe

Ryoji Ikeda, the planck universe [macro] 2015. Martin Wagenhan ©ZKM | Karlsruhe

Ryoji Ikeda, the planck universe [macro] 2015. © Michael Kneffel

Ryoji Ikeda is a Japanese composer and artist equally elusive as he is prolific. Starting
out as a DJ and sound artist in the early 1990s, Ikeda’s conceptual music and sound
art related recordings have appeared on minimal electronic music cult labels such as
Touch and Raster-Noton. Over the years, his artistic practice has expanded into the
visual realm, seeing him exhibit and taking up residencies in art institutions like the
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tate Modern, and the Centre Pompidou. He is
a composer, performance artist, and drifter between sonic and visual representation,
transgressing proposed boundaries by synchronously providing potent points of
transdisciplinary intersection in regards to data aestheticization and digital culture.
His work takes form over a range of varying mediums and theoretical exchange,
focusing, as he claims, “on the essential characteristics of sound itself and that of
visuals as light by means of both mathematical precision and mathematical

micro | macro (2015) was conceived and developed during Ryoji Ikeda’s artist
residency at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva,
Switzerland 2014-2015. Inspired by his exchange with mathematicians and
physicians, the artist turned to the space of particle physics and physical
cosmology—as measured in Planck units—for his audiovisual installation “micro |
macro”. Negotiating unfathomable scales in his work, Ikeda puts both the concept of
infinitesimally small particles that elude human perception [micro] against the
observable universe [macro].

Commissioned by the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Ikeda conceived of
“the planck universe [micro]” and “the planck universe [macro]” as site specific
installations in dialogue with the monumental architecture of the former German
munitions factory. Powered by DLP video projectors, computers, and speakers, Ikeda
manages to traverse the sonic and visual media in mapping data, transforming it into
sensory events to be experienced by the visitors.

Spectacularly flashing lines and patterns of light join the fast staccato of micro-bleeps
and the high-pitch sine tones of rhythmically dissipating sounds to create a hypnotic
immersion of the audience in the stream of data through a synesthetic amalgamation.
Trading in absolute perception of the represented concepts, the artist rather evokes
sensory responses that transcend understanding by fracturing the preexistent
theoretical distance to the phenomena we are all part of.

Text by Clemens Finkelstein | S/TUDIO