Ryoji Ikeda – datamatics [ver. 2.0] and NONOTAK – Shiro, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, February 27, 2020 – Live Review

As part of the ASIA TOPA festival in Melbourne, two different audio-visual artists, Ryoji Ikeda and NONOTAK, joined forces to bring their performances to Melbourne’s Hamer Hall for one night only.

NONOTAK is a collaborative between illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect and musician Takami Nakamoto. Their performance ‘Shiro’, is a mix of electronic beats and visuals displayed onto opaque panels. Whilst datamatics [ver. 2.0], performed by Ryoji Ikeda, is a mix of deep bass, beeps and repeating sound patterns that are accompanied by data displayed on a large screen. Sounds interesting right? Well, yes, it was. But only for about 10 minutes, then I was over it.

The performance opened with NONOTAK and right from the start I was shielding my eyes from the excessive strobe lighting. Schipfer and Nakamoto were standing amongst four screens on the stage that formed a large ‘X’. With each artist behind the screens at the front and with screens behind them, the visuals gave the illusion that they were moving between the screens, when in fact they were standing still. The combination of the music generated by Nakamoto with the monochromatic visuals from Schipfer worked well together. Remove the strobe lighting and the performance was mesmerising and entertaining. Sadly, it went on for way too long and I got bored of it very quickly.

The same can be said for the performance of datamatics [ver. 2.0.] from Ryoji Ikeda. The use of data to create music is quite clever and as a Business Analyst myself, I was certainly intrigued. datamatics uses real data and errors from electronic hardware that is mixed into an audio-visual landscape. My favourite part of the performance would be how the screen displayed a series of rotating dots that represented stars in our galaxy. The rotations and use of map-style grids drew the audience into a three-dimensional world and I was, again, captivated by what I was seeing. However, it got very repetitive and tiresome. The screen would also randomly flip from black to white, completely blinding the audience.

datamatics [ver.2.0] and NONOTAK were not horrible, despite my criticism, but even though I tried to enjoy it, I got tired of both performances quickly. I am sure that there would be a select few that adored thoroughly enjoyed the performances, but after the show ended, I couldn’t have left quick enough. My ears were ringing and every time I closed my eyes, all I could see were white lines scrolling through my eyelids. It’s not that the performances were bad, but I believe that perhaps both would have been better off as an art installation at an event like White Night or performed in a more intimate venue where patrons would be allowed to stand. Unfortunately, the space of Hamer Hall wasn’t really suited to either of these artists, but I guess they didn’t have many other options available as part of the ASIA TOPA Festival.

For tickets and more information on ASIA TOPA, visit: https://www.asiatopa.com.au

Photography supplied by Arts Centre Melbourne.

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