Map for Ryoji Ikeda’s Datamatics exhibition –  Alejandro Martín, Andrés Villaveces

Last Tuesday, Alejandro Martín and I gave a “commented visit” to Ryoji Ikeda’s Datamatics exhibition at the Art Museum of Universidad Nacional in Bogotá.

The challenge was interesting, and manifold: because of the strong sound pervading the exhibition, we could not really speak while watching it, we could not speak in front of the projections, we could only speak outside the main room, for a crowd gathered under scorching sun.

The conditions created a bizarre layer of abstraction in our lecture: we had to speak about what was inside the main room, while being outside of it. Of course, at some point we went into the main room and watched the full cycle of videos for about 15 minutes, midway into our lecture, and then went back outside to continue our conversation.

I believe the set-up added to our lecture – while originally I thought it would be very strange to speak about Datamatics while not watching it, there was some beautiful “black-box effect”, some kind of “entering a cube, living the experience and then going back outside to ponder it”.

We had no precise script (except for Alejandro starting the duo show by asking me how Model Theory allows me to see Datamatics, what is Model Theory, really – and then, after my reply, I would ask Alejandro what does he think “representing infinity” may (or may not) mean in Art). From there, we were to follow the map (drawn above) in a random way, stressing some of the main points.

My final invitation was for the audience to destroy the map (they were given photocopies of these arrows), to construct their own map, to add or remove words.

I really liked Alejandro’s (impromptu?) comparison between Van Gogh’s brushwork and Ikeda’s pixelwork – one among many things that were said that somehow stuck to my mind.

Paola Vargas commented that her watching the exhibition, and our words, made her think of Carnap. I wonder about that connection!

I was also intrigued by questions about “scores” (I spoke about capillarity and scores with infinitely many lines, densely packed) that an artist asked – she was clearly intrigued by a kind of self-referential work in the scores that occasionally appear. Finally, a very young (freshman) student of Architecture came to speak to me, and told me how he started seeing spatial-ness in a completely different way after watching the exhibition and hearing Alejandro and me comment on it. He was clearly shocked that “space” could be torn, disarrayed, discombobulated, sheared, reassembled, iterated, that way… That single conversation with the freshman student at the end, to me, paid the effort of thinking about Ikeda with Alejandro.