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b. 1957, Jersey

Tatsuo Miyajima Biography

Leading Japanese sculptor and installation artist Tatsuo Miyajima explores philosophical notions of time, eternity, life, and death through light and numbers. The Ibaraki-based artist is best known for works incorporating LED counters.

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Tatsuo Miyajima began to create light-based works using multiple small LED counters or 'gadgets' in the late 1980s after completing an MA at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1986 and following an early foray into performance art. Since then these counters have become a consistent staple of his work and continually flash through different digital numerals.

Across painting, installation, sculpture, drawing, performance, and video, Tatsuo Miyajima's work is united by an obsession with the digital numerals that are seen in calculators and radio clocks. As the artist explained in his conversation with Ocula Magazine, he is philosophically interested in the 'quantum leap' that occurs when a digital clock ticks over. It is not 'clock time' that interests him but something more personal: 'the sort of time that changes due to our consciousness and awareness.'

Flashing, though not always sequentially, through numbers one through nine, the LED counters in Miyajima's light installations evoke not hours but stages in the journey of life. Instead of displaying '0', the counter goes dark to represent a death-like pause before repeating the cycle—an allusion to Buddhist philosophies of life, death, and eternity.

Each counter represents the essence of life, and consequently each follows a different rhythm and speed. In Tatsuo Miyajima's Sea of Time'98 (1998) installation in the 200-year-old Kadoya House, 125 local residents were invited to set the speeds of each counter, while in Arrow of Time (Unfinished Life) (2016), the artist set alternating speeds himself to convey the lives of people of different races, religions, languages, skin colours, and cultures.

Through the same cycles of illumination and darkness, Tatsuo Miyajima has been able to convey some of the horrors of the 20th century. In his Mega Death (1999), the lights go out simultaneously, conveying the sudden disruption of the natural symphony of life cycles when many are abruptly cut short. Such ideas of temporality and connection across time that the LED works explore also reflect the artist's three-part mantra of 'Keep Changing', Connect with Everything', and 'Continue Forever.'

Beyond the LED counters and projections, Tatsuo Miyajima's more analogue artworks include 'Counter Paintings', which are made on everything from canvas to items of clothing, and performance-based projects like Counter Skin (2007–2008), which involved members of the public painting numbers on each other's bodies.

Tatsuo Miyajima's art has been shown internationally at group and solo gallery shows, biennials, and art fairs across the globe. His work can be found in major public collections such as Tate, London; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tatsuo Miyajima Solo Exhibitions include:

Connect with Everything, Gallery Baton, Seoul (2020); Tatsuo Miyajima: Chronicle 1995–2020, Chiba City Museum of Art, Japan (2020); Tatsuo Miyajima: Sky of Time, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland (2019); Connect with Everything, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2016); ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO DUST, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2011); MEGA DEATH: shout! Shout! Count!, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2000).

Tatsuo Miyajima Group Exhibitions include:

STARS: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2020); Minimalism: Space. Light. Object., National Gallery Singapore (2018); Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2012); AGAINST THE CLOCK, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia (2007); Project for Survival, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (1996); Performing Objects, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1992).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Tatsuo Miyajima Featured Artworks

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Innumerable Life by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaInnumerable Life, 2020Light Emitting Diode, ID, electric wire, steel, stainless, transformer
126.5 x 126.5 x 10 cm
Gallery Baton Contact Gallery
Hiten - no.17 by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaHiten - no.17, 2020Light Emitting Diode, IC, electric wire, wooden shelf, switching power supply
143.5 x 126.8 x 13 cm
Gallery Baton Contact Gallery
Life (le corps sans organes) - no. 13 by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaLife (le corps sans organes) - no. 13, 2013L.E.D., IC, microcomputer by Ikegami program, steel, plastic cover, passive sensor, electric wire
190.1 x 232.6 x 11 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Unstable Time L no. 3 by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaUnstable Time L no. 3, 2020Light emitting diode, IC, electric wire, nylon fabric, switching power supply
160 x 160 x 1 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Hand-drawn Innumerable Counts 20180305 by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaHand-drawn Innumerable Counts 20180305, 2018Ink on paper
56.6 x 57.2 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
„KU“ drawn in 20 Minutes by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo Miyajima„KU“ drawn in 20 Minutes, 2017Ink on paper
54.5 x 79 cm
Buchmann Galerie Contact Gallery
Life Liquid type-I by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaLife Liquid type-I, 2018Cylinder-shaped glass
21 x 46.5 x 19.5 cm
Lisson Gallery Contact Gallery
Counter Painting on William Morris Blue by Tatsuo Miyajima contemporary artwork
Tatsuo MiyajimaCounter Painting on William Morris Blue, 2017Acrylic on textile (Morris & Co., Bird in red, c. 1878) designed by William Morris
65 x 228.5 cm
Lisson Gallery Contact Gallery

Tatsuo Miyajima Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Tatsuo Miyajima, Tatsuo Miyajima at Buchmann Galerie, Buchmann Galerie, Berlin
Open Now
28 February–13 March 2021 Tatsuo Miyajima Buchmann GalerieBuchmann Galerie, Berlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Tatsuo Miyajima, Connect with Everything at Gallery Baton, Seoul
Closed
26 November 2020–8 January 2021 Tatsuo Miyajima Connect with Everything Gallery BatonSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Tatsuo Miyajima, Uncertain at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Closed
7 November–12 December 2020 Tatsuo Miyajima Uncertain SCAI The BathhouseTokyo

Tatsuo Miyajima Represented By

Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery London, East Hampton, New York, Shanghai

Tatsuo Miyajima In Ocula Magazine

Ten Decades, Nine Works From Art Basel's OVR:20c Ocula News Ten Decades, Nine Works From Art Basel's OVR:20c London, 27 October 2020

The digital showcase of 20th century art takes place from 28–31 October.

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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide By Sherry Paik, Seoul

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese...

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Tatsuo Miyajima Ocula Conversation Tatsuo Miyajima By Stella Rosa McDonald, Sydney

What is interesting to me is what's behind technology and the philosophical aspects of that.

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'Mission [Spacexart]: Beyond Cosmologies' And 'Chronicle 1995' At The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Tokyo Ocula Feature 'Mission [Spacexart]: Beyond Cosmologies' And 'Chronicle 1995' At The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Tokyo By Annabel James, Tokyo

Too many Tokyoites miss the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) altogether. Beyond both the Ueno museums and the network of newer art spaces in Roppongi, this institution of first-class exhibition facilities, a vast pubic art library and one of the most significant global collections of contemporary Japanese art takes you by surprise in Old...

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Tatsuo Miyajima In Related Press

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Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios Related Press Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios 8 September 2017, The Vinyl Factory

This October, Store Studios will host Everything At Once, an extensive off-site exhibition featuring 24 artists currently shown at Lisson Gallery in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

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'Time, Light, Japan': Japanese art from the 1990s to now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Related Press 'Time, Light, Japan': Japanese art from the 1990s to now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 4 April 2017, Art Radar Journal

From 17 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney presents Time, light, Japan: Japanese art 1990s to now. The exhibition explores time and light through video, photography, sound and installation from the 1990s to now. Drawing from the gallery's collection, the exhibition brings together the works of eight...

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Tatsuo Miyajima: connect with everything | time, light, japan: japanese art 1990s to now Related Press Tatsuo Miyajima: connect with everything | time, light, japan: japanese art 1990s to now 30 January 2017, Artlink

It's something of a cliché in Western art history that canons shake when revolutions sound. Social change precipitates stylistic reinvention and the same can be said in reverse. Although they might gesture back, time and style share an aggressively forward momentum. Over a career spanning more than three decades, Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima...

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The Art of Numbers: Japan's Tatsuo Miyajima at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Related Press The Art of Numbers: Japan's Tatsuo Miyajima at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 27 January 2017, Art Radar Journal

Born in Tokyo in 1957 and based in Ibaraki, Japan, Tatsuo Miyajima is well-known for his sculptures and room-scale installations, which have as their centre point the use of light and numbers. He often incorporated contemporary technological materials such as electric circuits, video and computers. Since the late 1980s he has focused on LED...

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