For Rhizome (

Tatsuo Miyajima
@ La Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
261, blvd. Raspail, Paris
12 avril - 19 mai, 1996
by Joseph Nechvatal

With regard to our current culture being shaped by technology, sociologists
and anthropologists have repeatedly stated that social and technological
change appears concurrently as a bundle. If we desire to really comprehend
either the social or the technological, we must understand both at once. In
this respect, the Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima's work with 'social time'
is beneficial to the understanding of time in the digital dominion.

For La Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Miyajima has made two
large installations which deal with the abstract constitution of time in the
flourishing digital age. Both installations consist of abundantly sprouting
LED signal-lights which flash a countless bevy of excited digital numbers in
what appears to be a random order. One installation, "Running Time 1993",
has the numbers circulating within a dark, large room on the floor in
chaotic patterns as they are transferred by miniature car toys. The other,
"Time Go Round", has twenty green and red digital modules spinning in
various circular orbits against an imposing dark wall. One discerns here a
mystifying constellation in transit.

The night of the opening there was a very simple performance by Miyajima
where he instructed six people to repeatedly count down in French from nine
to zero. Zero became a silent count at which point the performers plunged
their heads into bowls of water obtained from the Mururoa in the South
Pacific - the controversial site where recently nuclear explosions took
place to test French nuclear weapons.

If Miyajima's art is an attempt to outline a crisis of time in relationship
to the dispersed ontological self in the information age (where digital time
as the only time has become non-problematic in computational work
environments) then his artistic sense of crisis serves to encourage us to
value the freedom of our own interior sense of time. The climacteric
question posed by Tatsuo Miyajima's work then is: What am I doing this for?

Paradoxically, this basic need of personal freedom from digital time (most
people's daily life has never been more over-regulated by time constraints
and the demands made upon them) might serve as a prime motivation for an
individual's entering art's virtual time-zone of the on-line as on-line here
means being together with each other and with art without a scheduled time
agenda. As such, it serves the need to break with the contradictions of the
digital by offering an ideal of freedom from digital time and its scheduling