The Transfinite

My favorite type of art is massive, immersive, installation art. This past weekend I caught a really awesome example of this at the Armory. Japanese artist/composer Ryoji Ikeda’s The Transfinite was a bit like going inside of a synthesizer. After entering the huge Armory space, you were confronted with this space filling screen where patterns of black and white lines synchronized with glitchy electronic music. After removing your shoes, you could take a place on the white floor in front of it and let the lines wash over you.

Don’t watch this if you are prone to seizures (not my video, but gives you an idea of the experience):

It was mesmerizing to watch, although I’m not sure what it was meant to mean. Something about how we are always fixated to glowing screens?

I’ve always been really awful at quieting my brain. I have no inclination to meditation. But sitting in the Transfinite and losing track of time, I was actually able to suspend my thoughts for a short while. Yet I don’t think I’d call it relaxing. It was just the perfect example of immersion art, where you briefly forget anything exists outside this artist-created space.

On the other side of the screen, there was a projection of shapes and codes. I didn’t think it was as successful as the front. Maybe because everyone was standing up, checking their phones, trying to figure out the point of the illuminated boxes in the middle of the floor. Still, the experience of the first half of the Transfinite was so amazing, that I’m still going to rank it among my best art experiences of the year. Its last day was this past Saturday, but here’s another video for a taste of immersion:

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