Tatsuo Miyajima

Miyajima originally trained as a painter in Tokyo, where he was born in 1957, but soon abandoned painting for performance art. He eventually rejected that, too, feeling it was too ephemeral, and finally settled on light installations in the late 1980s.

He still draws on his experiments with painting and performance — the LEDs are his equivalent of brushmarks but their constant ticking movement keeps a sense of his work evolving in time and space. “The work is performing instead of me, for me,” he says.

Despite the apparently impersonal nature of his materials, Miyajima’s individual touch is distinct — he hand-makes all of his works in a studio near Tokyo. “There is a personal aspect to my work, that is much like oil painting: my work is not mass-produced,” he explains. “I create the work physically by myself and the installations are always related to my physical existence.”

Each environment is carefully honed. The “counter gadgets”, which can move upwards or downwards from one to nine or 99, can be made with red, green or blue digits, and each has a different rhythmic setting. From these simple conditions, Miyajima conjures constantly shifting configurations.

But one factor is consistent in all his works: you never see the number zero. Instead, at the end of every sequence, there is a brief pause, a darkness. “The moment of zero is a metaphor for death,” he once wrote, “and the counting a metaphor for life.” This is a reflection of his Buddhist faith, where death is not an end but a preparation for rebirth, he explains.

Duration 07 December 2009 - 16 January 2010
Cost Free
Venue Lisson Gallery
Address 52-54 Bell Street London NW1 5BU, ,
Contact / / www.lissongallery.com

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