The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Ryoji Ikeda Day *

* (restored)


‘Beauty is crystal, rationality, precision, simplicity … The sublime is infinity: infinitesimal, immense, indescribable. Mathematics is beauty in its purest form.’ — Ryoji Ikeda


‘It’s hard to describe the experience of a work by Ryoji Ikeda. The Japanese artist has worked as an experimental musician, performer, researcher, and art-maker, and he brings it all together for immense, immersive installations that fill the senses. But while the word “immersive” has come to connote Instagram bait, Ikeda’s works are anything but lowbrow.

‘The experience of a Ryoji Ikeda work is both brainy and very visceral, intellectual and awe-inspiring.With a background in experimental sound, Ikeda puts you in touch with sonic experiences that your body probably hasn’t had to process before. With an interest in science and mathematics, his visuals often draw on huge data sets, giving you vast walls of data flickering at you faster than you can process, as if tracing the sense of a collective intelligence trying to sync up with the universe.

‘Reviewing a show of his work in New York some years ago, Artnet News critic Ben Davis once called it a kind of “cosmic minimalism.”’ — Naomi Rea

‘Leading Japanese electronic composer/artist, Ryoji Ikeda, focuses on the minutiae of ultrasonics, frequencies and the essential characteristics of sound itself. His work exploits sound’s physical property, its causality with human perception and mathematical dianoia as music, time and space. He has been hailed by critics as one of the most radical and innovative contemporary composers for his live performances, sound installations and album releases. Using computer and digital technology to the utmost limit, Ikeda has been developing particular “microscopic” methods for sound engineering and composition. Since 1995 he has been intensely active in sound art through concerts, installations and recordings.

‘His albums +/- (1996), 0°C (1998), matrix (2000), op (2002; all Touch), data.plex (2005) and test pattern (2008; both raster-noton) pioneered a new minimal world of electronic music, employing sine waves, electronic sounds, and white noise. Using computer and digital technologies, his audiovisual performance test pattern (2008) and concerts datamatics (2006 – present), C4I (2004 – 2007) and formula (2000 – 2006) suggest a unique orientation for our future multimedia environment and culture. With Carsten Nicolai, he works the collaborative project ‘cyclo.’, which examines error structures and repetitive loops in software and computer programmed music, with audiovisual modules for real time sound visualization.

‘His ongoing body of work, datamatics, is a long-term programme of moving image, sculptural, sound and new media works that use data as their theme and material to explore the ways in which abstracted views of reality – data – are used to encode, understand and control the world.’ — transmediale



Ryoji Ikeda Website
Ryoji Ikeda — a restrospective @ 5:4
Resource of Ryoji Ikeda Links
Ryoji Ikeda @ Myspace
Ryoji Ikeda’s ‘Test Pattern’ reviewed @ Popmatters
Frances Guerin on Ryoji Ikeda’s ‘+/- [ the infinite between 0 and 1]’
Ryoji Ikeda’s publications
Ryoji Ikeda Discography
Buy Ryoji Ikeda’s albums @ raster-noton




Yasuo listening to Ryoji Ikeda


from Japan Times


How do you see music changing?

Ryoji Ikeda: We know that we can’t concretely predict how music will be in the future, but everybody knows that music will definitely change. Of course, this is not only about music changing, this is about everything changing. It seems to be obvious that the form, style and way of representation will be endlessly transformed by technological trends, which has long been a tradition within music — from the invention of notation, or instruments such as the pianoforte, to digital downloads today. But I am more interested in thinking about what will not change — I naively believe that the essentials of music will never change.

What about “entertainment”?

RI: As long as capitalism continues, entertainment will always be driven by the stock exchange. Aside from such dry thoughts, I like to believe that popular entertainment genres will always have a mutant or alternative form, such as art films in the movie industry — that any genre always keeps its “Art,” that which raises questions and encourages deeper considerations about the genre itself.

Who were your original inspirations?

RI: Most of the mathematicians in our modern history, especially Leibnitz, Cantor, Godel, Grothendieck.

What is your creative process like?

RI: The process happens in a trial-and-error and a back-and-forth way. It’s an adventure between the hands and the brain that is both systematic and intuitive, and cannot be generalized. For example, first I make different cookbooks for each project or work — the score or “idea” making. I then follow this plan, preparing all recipes carefully — the production process — and then every single element is judged intuitively by the chef at the very moment when he starts to cook — the live performance or installation of an exhibition. I think this is quite normal for any artist.

What are the most important recent technological advances for what you do?

RI: Many interesting things have happened in the last decade, especially in the development of multitask platform technology for computers, which enables anyone to program their own software. This is a breakthrough for me, since programming requires us to learn very sophisticated computer languages. I myself don’t do programming, but to see a new way of thinking among a generation is interesting — as if to witness a major new wave or trend like with DJ kids a decade ago. To me, a drastic shift in people’s way of thinking like this is always more exciting than its trigger.

What are your expectations for the next generation of digital artists?

RI: When young programmers grow up and become mature, I believe they get very close to a border between pure math and what they are doing. In the age of (the Greek philosopher) Plato, music was a science (and part of math), and some of the genuine programmers may well come to accept this great concept in the future, even if they are not conscious of what they are doing for art. And then, at some stage, perhaps the music industry will disappear.


Excerpts from 15 works

π, e, ø”

Test Pattern 100m Version

Dumb Type「OR」1997

Ryoji Ikeda@Mutek

2009.04.30 @METRO

@ Territorios Sevilla (26.05.2007)


data tron 8K enhanced version

Grec 09

Carsten Nicolai & Ryoji Ikeda – Cyclo – Mutek_10

The Radar







p.s. Hey. ** Jim Pedersen, Jim! How utterly lovely to have you here! Yes, Tony Tasset, so good, I saw so much wonderful work by him at Feature. How are you? I hope you’re doing great and are totally evading the airborne ugh. Love, me. ** David, Nah, no interest in the pet thing. Don’t understand that urge. I do let little spiders who show up in my apartment live full lives, if that counts. My dog pets of my childhood/youth: fatally hit by cars (2), died of cancer, shot by a man down the street, put down for biting a friend, put down because it developed an agonising skin disease. Enough was enough. You had me going there for a minute. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Well, in this case, our producer offered to produce our film. Told us he had absolute confidence he could raise the funds very easily. Had innovative ideas of how to distribute the film. Based on our knowledge of him, all of that seemed totally plausible. So we agreed and counted on him and ceased all other efforts to get the film made for going on two years now. And now we’re stuck, and now we’re at/past the point when he promised to give us the green light to start preparing the shoot the film, and he’s being ominously evasive and weird. Which is why we’ve been forced to figure out a workable Plan B. That’s the scoop. No, I didn’t end up seeing ‘Crowd’. I had a bunch of work to do. But I hear it went great. I think you’re right about non-Fat Joe. Oh, cool, Anita’s there for a bit. A great Xmas present! It’s true that that snowman carrier is both utterly ridiculous and decadent and yet, damn, I would want one. So thank you! Love teleporting you the surviving portion of the quite delicious Buche de Noel that my pals and I partly devoured last night, G. ** David Ehrenstein, Thanks for the festive tune. Ah, okay, I know who he is, I just hadn’t paid enough attention to know his name. Gotcha. ** Misanthrope, Hideous? That’s a first. Interesting. Cool about the Annapolis-related satisfaction. More fodder for the trailer for the next episode of the viral-hit-waiting-to-happen Wines Family reality show. You’re a purposeful guy if there ever was one. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yeah, it’s closure city over there where you are, to believe the newscasts. We’re still at the wait and see point. The general thought/hope is that because we have our Presidential election in April, wherein Macron is not exactly a shoo-in, he will do everything possible not to do something that would further lessen his popularity, i.e. a lockdown. We’ll see. ** Brian, Hey, Brian. I so agree! As the weekend’s post attested. Glad you see my rationale about blockbusters on a plane. What’s interesting is when one of them actually seems good in that context. Like I’m sure ‘Aquaman’ wasn’t good, but it strangely seemed good to me all scrunched up on a little screen on a plane. Odd that. I should write an essay about that, or, since I don’t want to write essays anymore, someone should. A friend of mine with generally impeccable tastes has recently been urging me to try Tarkovsky again, so I’ve been meaning to. Especially his last one, whatever it’s called, I forget. ‘Ludwig’, right? It’s so good they released the full length version. I saw it in a theater when it came out, but, as I’m sure you know, the released version was a chopped up, 90 minute edit, and it wasn’t bad by any means, but it was mostly just kind of a curious mess. Your brother likes ‘Frisk’? Wow, that’s trippy. Well, I don’t know your brother, obviously, but that’s cool, I guess I mean to say. My weekend was more work-y than I’d planned because I need to finish this monologue for the next Gisele Vienne piece, so I concentrated on that, but then some close friends and I gathered to eat a delicious Buche de Noel and drink champagne last night, and that was a treat. So it was all right. Do you have bunch of Xmas shopping to do this week? Luckily my friends and I don’t really do the gift thing, and my family’s too way far away to have to worry about that. So I get have a pure Xmas build-up week, whatever that means. Have a swell start to yours! ** Okay. Here’s an old post about Ryoji Ikeda from my murdered blog. It’s a little out of date, of course, but hopefully it’s still of use. See you tomorrow.


  1. David

    Shame about the dogs in your childhood…. if I could go back in time I’d love to see My dog sally…. and say sorry for not being able to look after her properly…. glad you got the joke…. big hug to you pal x

    One of my fave books is The wasp factory… do you know it?

    Here’s a very true story…. I used to work in a nightclub called ‘Tin Tins’.. the owner used to put his hand down my pants…. the heterosexual taxi drivers on the way home used to put their hands down my pants…. that kind of place…..I was 20… folk thought I looked 16…. whatever… one day i was working on a bar with a twat called Ian…. he cracked on that he was only gay as his baby son died in a paddling pool…. and the experience turned him… he left his girlfriend… etc…. the manager told me it was a big lie… and through the details he provided next of kin and all that… he called Ian’s mother.. who said it was the first she heard of it…. Anyway one day I pulled a prank and jumped out on him… and he grabbed my neck pendant and threatened me…. “I’ve got problems!!” He said… “don’t ever do that a -fucking-gain!!!”
    Anyways….. come the weekend I was drunk at the very same nightclub…. I went to the toilet and saw someone had written “IAN LOVES ADAM” on the wall so do you know what I did Den,? I went and asked at the bar for a pen and I added “…AND HIS DEAD BABY” then very drunk I went and told folks…. “have you seen what someone has written in the toilet?” Apparently Ian cried on seeing it… I was told… he never found out it was me…. there was no dead fucking baby…. so don’t you dare judge me!!

    Years later Dennis… I was painting at the graffiti tunnel in London… it was a picture of a boy I was doing, a horror picture, half way in some geezers came in their mid 20s… and started on me…. saying “what are you fucking doing?????” Etc….. it went on just a little too long… even though I gave as good as I was getting…. then instinct kicked in….. “it’s a picture I’m doing for my friend…. her son just died and its of him!”. “oh…..oh…….oh we’re really sorry….” “I’m sorry…..its really good!!!”…. they snivelled…
    Yep it worked ha!! Suckers…. I had a good few wanks about them on getting home…. if you saw the picture…. you would find it funny…. it’s of a devil boy with pitch black eyes… ha!!!

    Thanks for this post its great!!!!!! Nice imagery and drone like sounds….. love drone-drum and bass….


  2. David Ehrenstein

    Ikeda isseverely gorgeous.

  3. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yes, hideous! The crooked-ass snowmen are the worst. Skeery.

    Hahaha, yes, we gotta get that reality show to happen! I just hope they pay us as well as they do the Kardashians. 😀 I won’t be releasing a sex tape, though. I want to stay out of prison.

    Four days of work this week, which I’m about to start on. Eek. But looking forward to the three-day weekend. It’s the little things, you know? 😉

  4. Dominik


    Well, this… sounds pretty awful. The lack of straightforward communication always infuriates and exhausts me, so I can only imagine how it must feel when the fate of your film depends on it. Or the fate of your next steps in this regard, at the very least. What’s your plan B, if you’ve already come up with something workable?

    Ah! This Bûche looks delicious! Seriously, I need to eat something sweet now, haha. Thank you! Is it as tasty as it looks? Love deciding to compete in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? because he wants to be a millionaire, Od.

  5. Bill

    Great to see this Ikeda day again. I’ve been lucky to catch his collaboration with Dumb Type back in the day, and also an installation in Sydney, both excellent. Listening to a CD just isn’t the same.

    Glad you’re enjoying Buche season. It’s been freezing here (by our standards), with rain expected. Will be good to hunker down with pastries and catch up on movies and music.


  6. _Black_Acrylic

    Ryoji Ikeda is a new name to me, and I admire his multifaceted practice. Great interview too, cheers!

    Re Xmas presents, I went and bought myself this hat as a seasonal gift. Hopefully it will arrive in time for the big day.

  7. T

    Hey Dennis. I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but I went to see a Ryoji Ikeda exhibition a couple of months ago, and really, really, really dug it. Come to think of it, I completely blanked it on the mine for yours the other week, and it was probably my number 1 art of all the year. It’s been a bit of a crazy week, hence my absence from here, and I’m actually writing you from back in the UK. I was meant to do the whole xmas rigmarole with family in France, but because of the travel restrictions that fell through cos they couldn’t come, and then I had to find an alternative plan pretty quickly because I’m not able to keep my room over xmas. In short, I decided that the best option would be to come back over here for 10 days, because as a teacher I *should* have a right of return, but knowing French bureaucracy, I’ll breath easier when I’m back over the border. Just have to pray I don’t get stranded here with my folks. That’s probably not hugely interesting for you to read, but the whole thing has sucked up mental energy like nobody’s business. Hope your Tuesday vomits a river of mental energy for you to direct like that guy Moses did in the bible.

  8. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Enjoyed this Ryoji Ikeda post. Have you seen (m)any of his installations? I’d love to experience one, if the work is even half as amazing in person as the images and documentation suggest.

    Nice to see the Nathalie Saurrate post last week. I have that particular novel on my shelf and maybe it’ll get read over the holiday break. Hoping to unplug and bury myself in books.

    Sorry to read in the comments about the producer problems. Hope he’s able to make good on his word soon or a Plan B generates funds in a fast way.

    Two conversations this weekend: Stephanie’s stepfather, who’s a big reader, was recommending his favorite book of the year to us: “A Marble… no, wait… The Marble… The Marbled Swarm.” And a friend was telling me how she loved “I Wished” and it made her cry on a recent plane flight, attracting many stares, so she held up the book as explanation.

    Randomly: Have you ever done a post on Robert Wilson, or one focused on a particular production? Been thinking about him lately.

  9. Brian

    Hey, Dennis,

    This’ll provide an excellent playlist for tomorrow. Been looking for something immersive and weird, and these works seem to do the trick. Cool visuals, too, nice. Thank you kindly for the post. That’s so interesting about “Aquaman”. I genuinely cannot get into the vast majority of contemporary superhero fare at all, but maybe, the next time I’m on a plane, I’ll give one a whirl and have the same experience. Worth a try, anyway. I totally encourage you to write that essay if you ever find the time or willpower, because it sounds like it’d be an awesome read; even if you don’t, your cursory remarks here are thought-provoking enough on their own. I guess I should give Tarkovsky another go too. “The Sacrifice”, that last one you’re talking about, is easily the one that interests me the most. Set-up sounds great and it’s shot by Sven Nykvist too, yay. And I should also see “Stalker” just to have seen it, I guess. So the version of “Ludwig” I watched featured the proper English audio, except the only existing material for that audio was the soundtrack used the butchered cut you saw in the theater back then, so it would abruptly just switch to Italian in the middle of scenes, or for whole sequences. Which meant I knew quite clearly which the scenes and moments they cut, and my god, the film must have been completely unintelligible that way. It’s the rare four hour film where almost scene is totally essential to understanding what’s going on, at least from my view, so to see how drastically it was sliced up fills me with both anger and understanding for how badly the critics jeered at it upon its release. Anyway, really happy to have seen it in its as-complete-as-it’s-ever-going-to-get form. It’s a marvelous movie and one of my very favorites that I’ve seen this year, I think. Yes, my brother does indeed like “Frisk”! I think he’s going to finish it later on this evening. Sorry to hear of the preponderance of work this weekend, although at least it’s working on Gisele Vienne project, which always sounds super interesting to me. Your Bûche feast was definitely and unabashedly wonderful, though, or so it seems from your description. I’m tremendously glad to hear it. I finished by holiday shopping yesterday, although I should probably try and get something for my parents, and possibly for my aunt, who’s flying over from Ireland on Wednesday to stay with us till New Year’s, as was the custom pre-pandemic. We haven’t seen her since Christmas 2019, so that should be a real delight. Hope the first day of your pure Xmas build-up week arrived garlanded in holly and perfumed with…I don’t know…peppermint? Some seasonal-appropriate scent.

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