Ryoji Ikeda in London

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  • Ryoji Ikeda, perhaps Japan's best-known experimental sound artist and visual composer, brought his latest audio-vibratory experience to one of the Barbican's theatres in March for a pair of sold-out concerts. He was on full-tilt right from the beginning—I don't imagine many of the audience knew what hit them when the monochrome shining of 20 LCD screens and a huge cinematic backdrop accompanied by binary glitch mechanisms began. Throughout his career, Ikeda has focussed on the importance of information conveyance, and Superposition uses elements of this ongoing project to emphasise the ever-expanding possibilities of data presentation. Using live performers for the first time, Ikeda highlighted the human element of the data that has only been implicit in his other works. Before the information presented seemed detached from its creator, but now performers produce some of the data on stage—two of them, for instance, tapped out Morse code in tandem. The performers sat opposite each other, coding and deciphering, conversing in sound and movement, moving in and out of symmetry. Superposition is more than a musical performance, but of course it wouldn't be complete without its sonic accompaniment. Sounds were positioned in precise alignment with the visuals, snapping, flashing and swiping. The Barbican soundsystem didn't quite immerse the audience, but Superposition still made for a truly expansive poly-sensory barrage.