Sunday, September 27, 2015


Carriageworks and Ozasia Festival present, SUPERPOSITION, by Ryoji Ikeda, at Carriageworks, Redfern, 23 -26 September, 2015.

Lisa Havilah, Director of Carriageworks, has made a commitment to the work of Ryoji Ikeda, SUPERPOSITION being the third work that Carriageworks has presented of the Japanese Sound Artist: test pattern no [5] and concert datamatics [VER 2.0] in 2013. Some of us know his work with the performance collective, Dumb Type - they performed in the Melbourne Arts Festival in 2005.

This work incorporates a large computer-generated dynamic of sound and light with two performers: Stephane Garin, Amelie Grould.

From the program notes of Mr Ikeda:
superposition explores a new notion of information: quantum information. The language of classical information is BIT (binary digits - 0 or 1, which is judgement and logical thoughts.
The language of quantum information is QBIT (quantum binary digits) - 0 and 1 superposed at the same time, which is a new way for us to capture the truth of nature at an extremely small sub-atomic scale - such as behaviours of photons or electrons.
When we try to observe a sub-atomic particle we cannot know both its position and its speed at the same time. Once we observe the position, we understand the information of the position but lose that of the speed.
Before we observed the position, the single sub-atomic particle was actually located at all possible positions simultaneously, which is the so-called "superposition state". In short, our observation fixes the position. It is unbelievably counterintuitive and is beyond our human comprehension.  ... BIT is digital. QBIT is analog - analogous to nature. BIT is discrete. QBIT is continuous - a continuum. ...
superposition is inspired by all these thoughts and is foolhardily and quixotically aiming to explore the new kind of information through art.

Sitting in the theatre we are confronted with a lower battery of ten independent computer screens. On the back wall, and above them, a large screen. In between, is a rectangular screen embracing the whole horizontal width of the installation, which can be, technically, viewed as one image, or as a variety of 'spaces' that can be sub-divided with independent images - mostly 10 or 12. A low sound begins to emanate throughout the auditorium and gradually, with the startling activation of the images, it played, simultaneously, an orchestrated sound/noise symphony. We had been warned about the intensity of it all, for as we entered we were given some ear-plugs to protect our ears. This combined image and sound concert, partly, manipulated live, by two performers, then, over an hour of exploration and extrapolation of the above scientific knowledge, are presented with a quixotic attempt to illustrate the idea of superposition. Too, with questions juxtaposing Science and Religion, for instance, we are urged, invited to debate other things. It can be an immensely immersive experience - and I felt it was better, for me, to surrender to the 'personal' journey intuitive response than it was to attempt to wrestle out meaning, of it all,  whilst in its thrall. Much like the way I responded to the BINDU SHARDS experience of James Turrell, at the National Gallery in Canberra, in April, I simply surrendered to the emotions provoked in my consciousness, without too effortful a logical reckoning of what or why  was happening to me, while in the live moments.

Looking at the complication of all the 'computer-machinery' in front of me in the Big Bay at Carriageworks, I was awed by the imaginative mind that had conceived the project. But, even more I was staggered by the brilliant co-ordination of it all - the technicalities cause hyperventilation and anxiety in me. It startles my conceptual naivety and practical skills that such courage, 'genius' can be given permission. One is grateful that it can be. One is very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it, and then, later, to ponder on it. I was reminded of the awesomeness of George Miller's conceptual imagination with his recent MAD MAX, FURY ROAD film, and my overwhelming admiration of his and his teams' logistics in bringing it into a reality onto the screen, for me.

On-the-edge art. To what next? Where will Mr Ikeda go? The evolution of Science and an artist's, art's response to express it. Is a gift to have witnessed this manifestation of it.

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