Ryoji Ikeda: The Transfinite at the Park Avenue Armory

A big sweeping panel in white with people scattered on it, set on a black background from Ryoji Ikeda

It's one of the great spaces in town, the cavernous Wade Thompson Drill Hall at the historic Park Avenue Armory, but it's also been a bit of challenge for the Arts at the Armory curators to find the right artist, with the right idea, to take full advantage of the massive room. Fortunately, Ryoji Ikeda's stunning, enveloping, light- and sonic-scape of a installation, The Transfinite, more than succeeds. We had the great pleasure of spending a chunk of our Friday afternoon last week–opening day of The Transfinite's three-week run–with Ikeda's incredible installation, and had a blast just taking it all in. 


A woman in black laying on a white paneled background on display at Park Ave Armory in NYC

Ryoji Ikeda's The Transfinite is basically comprised of four massive screens–two on the floor, two soaring close to ceiling–and a dozen high-end speakers, that envelop you with noise and pattern and rhythm and light: the sensory manifestations of "digital information and binary code". All of which sounded really cool (if somewhat difficult to picture) to us when we first read about it months ago… but the amazing thing about Ikeda's The Transfinite is how subsuming, and even soothing, the experience is, especially considering that the piece consists essentially of bright flashing lights and very loud, abstract, clicky, electronica sounds. 

People walking and laying down on a big white paneled projection from Ryoji Ikeda

At Ryoji Ikeda's The Transfinite, people (including us) were lying on the super-smooth plasticky floors (shoes are forbidden), blissfully succumbing to the sensory overload; and then sitting right up under the massive wall, letting the data cascade down upon their heads; and then pulling way back to the edges, and beyond, to experience it all from a different perspective entirely. So transfixing, in fact, is the front part of The Transfinite–called "test pattern"–that when we unexpectedly had to hurry out of the exhibition, it wasn't until later that night that we remembered that there was a whole other side of the structure that we didn't even see, and which displays Ikeda's pieces data.tron and data.scan, pictured below. No worries, though: even at $12 for admission, Ryoji Ikeda's The Transfinite is worth a return trip. 

A silvery man in front of a digitalized skycraper from artist Ryoji Ikeda

Ryoji Ikeda's The Transfinite at the Park Avenue Armory Details 

Ryoji Ikeda's The Transfinite is on display in the Park Avenue Armory's Wade Thompson Drill Hall from now through Saturday, June 11. The Armory is located on Park Avenue between 67th and 66th Streets, and is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m., and on Thursday until 9:00 p.m. Closed Monday except for May 30, Memorial Day, when the Armory will be open from 12:00 to 7:00. For more information, please see the Park Avenue Armory website. Oh, and, judging by the pictures we've seen of the crowds that came over the weekend, it seems like weekdays are the way to go here.   

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