Author: Joseph Nechvatal --- Date: 04/15/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Tatsou Miyaijima
La Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
261, Blvd. Raspail, Paris

April 12 - May 19, 1996

With regard to the cultural shaping of technology, sociologists and anthropologists state that social and technological change come together as a packet: if we want to understand either, we must understand both. In this respect, Tatsou Miyaijima's work with 'time' is beneficial to the understanding of the new relationship of what we think of as 'time' to the society of the global digital empire. The Japanese artist Tatsou Miyaijima has made two large installations at the Cartier Fondation and a performance; all which deal with the abstract 'nature' of time in the digital age. The installations consist of multiple LED signal lights which flash digital numbers in great quantities in what appears to be random order within a dark large room. One installation has the numbers circulating on the floor in chaotic patterns (Running Time 1993) moved by small car toys. The other (Time Go Round) has 20 green and red digital modules spinning in various circular orbits against a large, again darkened, wall. What one perceives is a constellation of revolving red and green numbers. It was very beautiful to see.

If Tatsou Miyaijima's work is an attempt to outline a crisis of time and of the self in lieu of the information age where abstract personal identity and interactions outside of clock-time have become non problematic in postindustrial settings, then his art might serve to encourage us to value the freedom and flourishing of the individual's interior sense of time and pressure and stress and aging.

The questions posed by Tatsou Miyaijima's work then are, what am I doing this for, and do I have time to exist for myself?

The night of the opening there was a very simple performance piece by Tatsou Miyaijima where he instructed 6 people to count down from nine to zero in French where zero became a silent count at which point the performers plunged their heads into bowls of water from the Mururoa in the South Pacific where the nuclear explosions took place (testing French nuclear weapons). Paradoxically, this basic need of freedom from time, which Tatsou Miyaijima posed in this performance and in the two installations, might serve as a prime motivator for an individuals entering the virtual time dimension of the online. But perhaps as the plunging of the performers head into water illustrates, in fact most people's daily life has never been more over-regulated by time constraints and the demands made upon them; as life becomes increasingly organized around the impersonal administration of people at every level.

But in Miyaijima's oriental (?) sense of art/time, art/time always carries the intertwined dimensions of the symbolic and the functional, the symbolic including the cultural, ritual and religious dimensions. Therein lies the potential of long-term societal change through art/time which will undoubtedly have untold spiritual implications in an age where every user may become a server to all other users. Art may mean etymologically: to bring together, to put together, to share our time! In a virtual art community, like THE THING, this has the implication of responsibility and respect. Online art/time means being together without an agenda and it serves a need to break the contradictions of the real world with ideals of freedom from time and rules and constraints.

Joseph Nechvatal

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