What does time mean to you? For Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima (Tokyo, 1957), time connects everything. Step inside his room-scale installation Samsara and experience the unending journey of life, surrounded by hundreds of blinking LED numbers in an array of colours. Spirituality, Buddhist philosophy, and technology come together in this brand new installation.
Miyajima is famous around the world for his room-scale installations, for which the artist uses contemporary technological materials such as electric circuits, videos, and computers. With the aid of these building blocks, the artist conveys his philosophical ideas, which are heavily inspired by Buddhism. Time and its passing are central to his work and to this installation, in which blinking numbers symbolize the cycle of life and death.
"Time connects everything. I want people to reflect on the universe and the human spirit."— Tatsuo Miyajima
CIRCLE OF LIFE
What exactly can you expect to see? Digital LED counters, or digits as Miyajima calls them, each count down from 9 to 1 at their own pace. This repeating cycle is a visual representation of the passing of a life, and of time. Time arises from Miyajima's Buddhist ideas about reincarnation: a human being dies, but each time is reborn. What is striking is that 0 is always bypassed. When the position of 0 is reached in the cycle, the counter briefly switches to black; a moment in which to pause or take a breath before life begins again.
About the artist
Tatsuo Miyajima is one of Japan's most important sculptors and installation artists. He was born on 16 January 1957 in Tokyo. After completing his bachelor and post-doctoral studies at the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo, he began experimenting with performance art before switching to technological installations. Miyajima has previously staged successful solo exhibitions in cities including Sydney, New York and Beijing, and has taken part in numerous international biennales and group exhibitions. His work can be seen in museums all over the world.
Through different eyes
If you'd like to know more about the artist, the exhibition includes a short film in which Miyajima talks about his ideas and the context of his work. Once you've watched the film, be sure to visit the installation. The film will help you view and interpret it from a new perspective.