Back at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a series of computer-generated images were projected onto the field at the Maracanã stadium. Glowing with bluish hues, the symbols of the sports to be part of the next Olympics, in Tokyo, appeared to be dancing on the grass. The piece was crafted by Japanese collective Rhizomatiks, which now has its exhibition featured at São Paulo’s Japan House in the first display in Latin America exclusively dedicated to their work.
Four pieces were selected by the curators at Japan House to be part of exhibition O Que Não se Vê (“What Eyes Cannot See”), which started Tuesday (Jul 12) and is expected to end on October 2. The items are interactive and showcase some of their best achievements in art, media, and technology since 2006.
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“This is the predominant rationale behind the works of [Rhizomatiks]—the duality between the real world and the virtual world,” said Japan House Cultural Director Natasha Barzaghi Geenen, curator of the exhibition.
All items are displayed on the first floor of the Japan House. “It’s an attempt to show some of the fronts Rhizomatiks works on. Their oeuvre is wide in both scope and diversity,” Geenen said in an interview with Agência Brasil. “In one way or another, the pieces deal with elements that we don’t see.”
The first work unveiled to the public is Sensing Streams 2022 – Invisible Inaudible, by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Daito Manabe, the latter being the multimedia artist who created the collective in 2006. Here, visitors find a large, black screen playing images produced by electromagnetic waves generated by the noise of cars on Avenida Paulista, where Japan House is located, or by nearby cellphones. The public can also change the wave frequency by moving an antenna installed in front of the LED panel. Sounds and noises accompany the profusion of images.
“The piece turns invisible electromagnetic waves into image and sound. It’s interactive inasmuch as people coming to Japan House can change the frequencies with their own cellphones, which also emit waves. To a degree, the interactivity is not perceived by visitors,” she pointed out.
Next, in installation Paredes Ópticas (“Optical Walls”), visitors are confronted with three luminous objects hovering in the air in a dark, misty room. The devices rotate and project beams and lines onto the walls, creating different geometric shapes. “It’s an immersive piece, which also addresses the invisible, in a way. […] Its logic is based around sensory and spatial perception,” the curator added.
Third comes installation Gold Rush, which introduces the concept of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with a focus on Everydays: The First 5000 Days, by US artist Beeple, auctioned for nearly $70 million in March last year. After the auction, the collective began to analyze data on NFTs sold on OpenSea on the day Beeple’s work was sold. Rhizomatiks was able to make a portrait out of all transactions that took place in the metaverse that day. “Next, they compressed the images and turned them into film,” the curator said.
The exhibition ends with videos that show Rhizomatiks’ creation process, as well as objects and gadgets used or designed by them for their work. “These videos show various projects carried out over more than 15 years of activity and some of the devices they developed, such as drones and lighting devices.”
O Que Não se Vê is free of charge, with no appointment required. More information can be found on the Japan House website. More details about the featured items are available through a dedicated web application, which can be reached via a QR code in the exhibition room.
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