Experiment 05



October 11, 2008 - January 12, 2009


Le Laboratoire is pleased to present, for the first time in Europe, a personal exhibition of the Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, a major figure of the sound and visual electronic scene. From his correspondence with the American mathematician Benedict Gross, he has conceived a work where the definition of the sublime blends with the immateriality of infinity. Welcome to a world of millimeter precision.

An avant-garde composer of ultra-sonic frequencies; an explorer of minimal sounds; an artist of visible waves, Ryoji Ikeda explores the interference between reality and unexplored dimensions. His musical structures strive to develop perception by bodies; his sound and visual installations fill up a design space, between darkness and light.

Decibels take life and run up against each other; sounds are oppressive yet liberating; is it resonance or silence that we’re hearing? Waves make light of the light, gently mocking; from shadow to light the atmosphere vibrates inside a sonic and audiovisual temporality, whose only hidden meaning is in the suggested truth.

From Infinity to the sublime, Ryoji Ikeda instills a new dimension whose theoretical definition embraces the science of mathematics.


V denotes the von Neumann universe and L denotes Godel’s constructible universe. Their equality or inequality is a disputed point, and the position one chooses to take on whether V=L or V≠L reveals a great deal about one’s philosophy of mathematics. If V≠L, then not every set of numbers is constructible. The removal of this restriction allows for the inclusion of numbers that are almost beyond the limits of human comprehension. More than just a mathematical equation, this expression inspires contemplation of that which we cannot perceive, which can lead to a transcendent experience of the sublime.

Download the press release.



About Ryoji Ikeda

Japan’s leading electronic composer/artist, Ryoji Ikeda, focuses on the minutiae of ultrasonics, frequencies and the essential characteristics of sound itself. Ryoji Ikeda featured in Forma’s launch season with his audiovisual concert formula [ver.1.0] and in concerts with Carsten Nicolai and Mika Vainio. For the past six years, Forma has produced and toured all of Ikeda’s exhibition and performance projects worldwide. Since 1995, Ikeda has been intensely active through concerts, installations, and recordings, integrating sound, acoustics and sublime imagery. In the artist’s works, music, time and space are shaped by mathematical methods as Ikeda explores sound as sensation, pulling apart its physical properties to reveal its relationship with human perception. Ikeda has gained a reputation as one of the few international artists working convincingly across both visual and sonic media. Using computer and digital technologies to the utmost limit, his audiovisual concerts datamatics (2006 – present), C4I (2004 – 2007) and formula (2000 – 2006) suggest a unique orientation for our future multimedia environment and culture. His acclaimed installations data.tron [prototype] (2007), data.film nº1-a (2007), data.spectra (2005), spectra [for terminal 5, jfk] (2004), spectra II (2002), db (2002) and his first large-scale, public arena work spectra [amsterdam], (a commission for Dream Amsterdam 2008), continue to diffuse Ikeda’s aesthetic of ‘ultra minimalism’ to the art world. Ikeda’s latest body of work, datamatics, is a long-term programme of moving image, sculptural, sound and new media works that use data as their theme and material to explore the ways in which abstracted views of reality – data – are used to encode, understand and control the world. He has been hailed by critics as one of the most radical and innovative contemporary composers for his live performances, sound installations and album releases. His albums +/- (Touch, 1996), 0°C (Touch, 1998) and matrix (Touch, 2000) pioneered a new minimal world of electronic music, employing sine waves, electronic “glitch” sounds, and white noise. Ikeda released his critically acclaimed, seventh solo album entitled dataplex (raster-noton), as part of the datamatics series, in 2005. His latest release test pattern (raster-noton) was released in April 2008. The versatile range of Ikeda’s research is demonstrated by his collaborations with Carsten Nicolai on the project cyclo and with choreographer William Forsythe/Frankfurt Ballett, artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, architect Toyo Ito and artist collective Dumb Type, among others. The first complete catalogue of Ikeda’s seminal work, formula [book + dvd] (Forma) was published in 2005. Ikeda has exhibited and performed at many of the world’s leading festivals and venues including: the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2005 (Melbourne); MIT, 2006 (Massachusetts); Centre Pompidou 2004, 2007 and La Villette 2002 (all Paris); Sónar 2006 (Barcelona); Architectural Association 2002, Barbican 2006, Tate Modern Turbine Hall 2006 (all London); Irish Museum of Modern Art 2007 (Dublin); Auditorium Parco della Musica 2003 (Rome); ICC 2005, Tokyo International Forum 2006 (Tokyo); Art Beijing 2007 (Beijing); Göteborg Biennial 2003 (Göteborg); Mutek Festival 2007 (Mexico City); Le Fresnoy 2007 (Tourcoing) and Paradiso (opening event, Dream Amsterdam 2008). A solo exhibition of new and existing works by Ikeda, was recently presented at Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media in Japan (Mar - May 2008). In 2001, Ikeda was awarded the Ars Electronica Golden Nica prize in the digital music category and he was short-listed for a World Technology Award in 2003.

About Benedict Gross

“When you discover a mathematical truth, everything immediately becomes clear. It’s so easy to understand. You don’t want to touch it. The beauty of mathematics is just a pleasure to behold.”


Benedict Gross has always been interested in mathematics, from his youth in New Jersey to his current position as George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University. Attending college during the height of the political turmoil of the 60’s, Gross struggled with how mathematics fit into the bigger picture. He spent three years traveling in Africa, Asia, and Europe, playing music, and reading mathematics, before returning to the United States to study number theory. During his graduate career he was taught by such great mathematicians as John Tate, Jean-Pierre Serre, Raoul Bott, and Barry Mazur. One of Gross’ major contributions was his collaboration with Don Zagier to prove the Gross-Zagier formula, an identity for the first derivative of the L-functions of elliptic curves. Gross has taught at Princeton, Brown, and Harvard and has had over 30 PhD students. In addition to numerous scientific publications, Gross has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Cole Prize in Number Theory. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. Along with mathematician Joe Harris, he co-authored The Magic of Numbers (2007, Prentice Hall), an example-driven book elucidating the joy and wonder of mathematics to a non-mathematical audience. Gross served as Dean of Harvard College from 2003-2007 but has since happily returned to full-time mathematical research, in the fields of number theory and representation theory.