Museum of Contemporary Art: Tatsuo Miyajima

Hello! This is my long overdue post about the Tatsuo Miyajima exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). I had been meaning to visit, but kept delaying it until I realised it was the last day and would be gone forever. I must admit I know nothing about Tatsuo Miyajima and his artworks, but I saw some pictures of this exhibition and thought I just had to go and see it for myself.

Each artwork had the individual LED lights counting down from 9 to 1 at a different pace to each other. How they were arranged and presented in each artwork was different, but I imagine the theme was about life and death — each light represents a human being, some dying faster than others. It’s a confronting thought, but it made me reflect on life in general.

‘Changing Time with Changing Self’ (unknown number)

‘Changing Time with Changing Self’ (unknown number)

According to the description in the gallery, “Tatsuo Miyajima’s works immerse visitors ‘within’ the art. They bathe people in coloured light, surround them from above and below, and reflect them through the use of polished, reflective surfaces including glass and mirror. His mirror works demonstrate the concept of ‘Art in You’, something he describes as ‘the realisation that art is inside yourself. The work itself is living and moving as you yourself are.'”

‘Arrow of Time’

I can only apologise about the quality of this photo, but I really wanted to share this experience with you. In this room, the red LED lights were suspended at different lengths from the ceiling, with large cushions for people to lie down on and look up. You can learn and see more about ‘Arrow of Time’ here. I was lucky enough to get a cushion and I spent a while lying here, staring at all the numbers counting down at their own pace. Everyone was so quiet. It was kind of magical.

‘Diamond in You No.1’

Like Tatsuo Miyajima’s ‘Changing Time with Changing Self’, except the mirrors here have been arranged into a diamond shape to create some kind of kaleidoscope of reflections. According to the gallery information, this “suggest the graceful unfolding of a lotus, or origami. Another reference is the geodesic dome — a halved sphere made up of conjoined triangles — pioneered by the American architect Buckminster Fuller in the early 20th century.” 

‘Mega Death’

‘Mega Death’

‘Mega Death’

This was my favourite artwork (but also quite sad). Inside the large room, three walls from ceiling to floor were covered with the blue LED lights. Each individual timer counts down at its own pace, until they all suddenly switch off and it’s pitch black. I stood in darkness for minutes before the lights started appearing again, little by little. “‘Mega Death’ represents a memorial to death on an industrial scale over the past century, recalling the Second World War, Hiroshima and Auschwitz. It is also a powerful statement about humanity’s capacity to heal and begin again.” You can learn more about ‘Mega Death’ here, and this is one I definitely recommend checking out.

I’ve shared less than half of Tatsuo Miyajima’s artworks that were on display at the MCA, but these were my favourites. I hope you got a chance to check it out while it was showing in Sydney. You can find more about Tatsuo Miyajima and his artworks here. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for any of his upcoming projects.

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