Artist : Ryoji Ikeda
Title : data.anatomy [civic]
Date(s) : 2012
Website : http://dataanatomy.net/
Ryoji Ikeda, data.anatomy [civic] text by James Smith
The artist Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475) is often referred to as the godfather of modern single point perspective. Although not strictly the first to introduce it into painting, he was the first to really push its possibilities as an artistic device. His obsession was legendary, manifesting itself most famously in his paintings where fallen lances happened to land exactly along the lines of visual recession, further enhancing the illusion of depth. In many ways this experimentation with the representation of space and the painter’s wrestle with the 'flatness' of the canvas has been an artistic obsession ever since.
Ryoji Ikeda's project 'data.anatomy [civic]' echoes Uccello's computations with the deftness of an artist confidently adept with the digitisation of everyday life. The project was produced in collaboration with Mitsuru Kariya, the development leader of the new Honda Civic. Ikeda took the raw production data, usually hidden - or rather kept secret - to fashion a response to the industrial production of this motor vehicle. The data used to engineer the inner workings and outer surface of the car were compressed and animated into an eye-twisting series of scans. This is before it descends to a more transcendental moment where we float through three diminishing renderings of the inner world of the car. At moments you are able to tell where you are located, at other moments your only awareness is one of expansive space.
This is echoed most impressively by the location of the installation, sited in the vast and uncompromising space of a former power station which is now - perhaps predictably for Berlin - also home to a techno club. The sheer scale of both the space and also the project has the effect of shrinking your presence, not least because the projections of the inner workings of the car are so greatly scaled up.
At times the piece does have echoes of a car advert; for example key components seem to be highlighted in red. Is this possibly a reference to a car showroom aesthetic or product launch? However, clearly Honda stood back to let Ryoji work very liberally with some fascinating, and usually hidden material, that produces a worthwhile project that harks back to fundamental artistic concerns.