Datamatics: Breaking Space Into Visualized Data

Ikeda uses data as a source for sound and visuals, using dynamic CGI to render visualisations and synthesisers to create music. You can see an example in the video above. The data is sourced from hard drive errors and software code, and then run through a stack of filters and processing algorithms to turn it into music and animation that’s not too far off glitch art.

The result is sparse, black-and-white imagery with just the occasional flash of colour, overlaid with high-frequency bleeps and blips and underpinned by droning bass frequencies. You can hear a sample on Soundcloud. Ikeda uses high-framerate video and variable bit-depths to, as the artist puts it on his website, “challenge the thresholds of our perceptions“.

– Duncan Geere,, 07 April 2011


Datamatics is a series of audiovisual works by Ryoji Ikeda, turning space into visual data points flying past our eyes. The work breaks down our perception of space, turning the space into 1s and 0s. It converts our space from a physical plane to something less tangible, more electric. He helps visualize data errors in an artistic manner that is surreal and tangible.

Though the process of data corruption cannot be actually visualized, Datamatics uses such data in creating its vivid imagery and music. In that sense, Datamatics is anti-sublime because it maps something that is nearly intangible into a form that we can decipher.

If Romantic artists thought of certain phenomena and effects as
un-represantable, as something which goes beyond the limits of human senses
and reason, data visualization artists aim at precisely the opposite: to map such
phenomena into a representation whose scale is comparable to the scales of
human perception and cognition.

-Lev Manovich

The generation of imagery and music from a nearly intangible form is reminiscent of Norman McLaren’s work with film – he simply drew what he wanted directly on film, creating fast moving images and futuristic sounding music. While not anti-sublime or data-related, it is interesting to see Datamatics in comparison to his films, such as Synchromy.


Ryuji Ikeda’s Datamatics in Ars Electronica 2009

Datamatics blurs the line between the intangible data and the physical space we inhabit, and in that way creates a new sensed space for us to explore, superimposing our physicality with the seemingly nothingness of data. It brings down the formless into form, and forces us to rethink of how we see the world – whether we see objects made of 1s and 0s, or whether we see data as matter.


Author: JN Fernandez

They don't think it be like it is, but it do.

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