Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Infinitesimal to Infinity: Ryoji Ikeda’s Data Composition and Space of Sensing
Joo Yun Lee
2nd Author
3rd Author
Doctor of Philosophy
December 2018
Number of Pages
Stony Brook University, SUNY
Thesis Supervisor
Zabet Patterson
Supervisor e-mail
zabet.patterson AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Andrew V. Uroskie, Edward S. Casey, Margaret Schedel, and Lev Manovich
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Art History and Criticism
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Korean
URL where full thesis can be found
Abstract: 200-500 words
This dissertation examines the audiovisual work of Paris-based Japanese-born composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda (born 1966 in Gifu, Japan). It provides a detailed overview of Ikeda’s work at the intersection of sound, art, digital computation and data that has evolved last three decades since the 1990s, crossing the boundaries of electronic music, contemporary art and media culture. This analysis describes a wide spectrum of Ikeda’s work—sonic albums, publication, audiovisual installations and performances, and site-specific public art. The dissertation begins by examining the evolution of Ikeda’s art in the “aesthetic revolution in the 1990s,” particularly from his association with laptop music and the glitch culture and with Japanese experimental intermedia art and performance collective dumb type. It also illuminates its art historical and media aesthetic links from the sound practice and visual art from the 1960s and ‘70s to position Ikeda’s art in the historical trajectory of contemporary art—such as Minimalist music, Post-Minimal installation and intermedia performance, while discussing the specificities that Ikeda’s art opened up a new domain of the audiovisual practices and data art. Then, challenging and supplementing the discussion of Ikeda’s work as the resurrection of Modernist formalism in digital media art, I argue that Ikeda created a unique minimalism that encompasses specific cultural context and social critique of datafied society, mediating and stimulating the viewers’ sensible experience of unfathomable data. In this respect, this dissertation examines Ikeda’s data composition—certainly evolved from his music composition—articulates sonic, visual, and numeric data from the infinitesimal to the infinite to make the microactivity of digital computation and data’s inherent “sonicity” into the sensate experience in real time and space. Interfacing computational formalism of microsonic abstraction with other phenomena such as light, visuals, and numerical data, Ikeda’s data composition visualizes, spatializes and materializes data according to sonic media temporality. The matrix of data, however, is not meant to be decoded nor interpreted in the linguistic sense. I contend that, unveiling the temporal processuality of data processing at the threshold of the viewer’s perception and cognition, Ikeda’s work manifests the aesthetics of nothingness, yet it ensures the viewer’s highly sensible experience of data at a precisely calibrated pace and intensity. The dissertation also examines the ways in which Ikeda’s work juxtaposes the unimaginable vastness of datascape and the infinity both of the subatomic dimension and the astronomical universe with an aim to explore the intersection of sound, data, and matter and infinity of our world, linking computation and data to new sensations. Finally, it accounts for the viewers’ shared experience in Ikeda’s work as space of sensing that brings a new sensibility to our world of data.