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Art meets science in superposition

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Ryoji Ikeda’s 2012 work superposition comes to Adelaide’s OzAsia Festival after showing at Carriageworks multi-arts centre in Sydney as part of its premiere Australian season.

The work was inspired by a two-year residency at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), where he explored mathematics and particle physics, with the title referring to a principle of quantum theory which describes the way particles exist and behave at the sub-atomic level.

Born in Japan, now working Paris and Kyoto, Ikeda has a well-deserved international reputation as a leader in both electronic composition and visual art.

He describes superposition as a project about “the way we understand the reality of nature on an atomic scale”. It presents itself as a cosmic collage – multilayered raw sounds mesh with digital images fractured across multiple screens, large and small.

This is his first piece featuring performers on stage. Stéphane Garin and Amélie Grould sit amid the screens at a long desk, entering data using a range of methods (including some very impressive Morse code). They go about their business methodically, orchestrating the piece by feeding content into the work in real time and manipulating the source information which in turn effects change in the digital output.

What results is a majestic work that can best be viewed as a fast-track to the state of mindfulness.

Ryoji Ikeda :: superposition [updated 28 JAN 2014] from ryoji ikeda studio on Vimeo.

If you surrender to the sonic wash of superposition, you can’t help but be fully connected to the present, aware of mind and body, just “being” in the moment and existing within the overlapping waves of sound, light and vibration.

It’s an intense experience that overwhelms the senses, and the imagery is intoxicating. Coordinates map the sky in red, blue, black and blinding white. Equations and scientific notation scales give way to soaring views of earth from above. These shifts in perspective evoke feelings of insignificance and are equal parts calming and confronting.

Ryoji Ikeda has created a dip into the mysteries of the universe with this exquisitely disorienting intersection of art and science.

The final performance of superposition is tonight (September 30) at the Dunstan Playhouse. It is showing as part of the OzAsia Festival, which continues until October 4. 

Visit InDaily’s OzAsia Festival hub for more reviews and stories

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