Art of numbers – Tatsuo Miyajima reflects on infinity and eternity

EMMA takes pleasure in hosting the Scandinavian solo debut of the internationally acclaimed Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima. Sky of Time marks the continuation of a new form of collaboration between EMMA and the Saastamoinen Foundation. Every year, a new work is commissioned for the Foundation’s collection from an interesting and topically relevant contemporary artist. The commissioned piece is displayed at EMMA as part of a curated exhibition shedding further light on the artist’s current practice.

Sky of Time is the title of both the exhibition and the new commissioned piece, which is a meditative installation consisting of hundreds of LED counters fixed to the ceiling of a darkened space. The glowing green numbers keep changing at a unique pace between nine and one. Instead of hitting zero, the gadget darkens momentarily before proceeding the process. The green light is a reference to the Aurora Borealis, which the artist saw twice while visiting Rovaniemi for the Snow Show exhibition in 2004.

Tatsuo Miyajima’s (b. 1957) minimalistic installation expresses three Buddhist concepts that underpin his art and personal philosophy: “keep changing”, “connect with everything” and “continue forever”. The concept of random chance also holds special significance for the artist.  The rhythm and speed of each gadget is set using a random system. Once the countdown begins, their rhythm cannot be altered by human invention. The artist sees this random system as being the closest to how nature works.

Miyajima began using LED lights at the start of his career back in the 1980s. In a career now spanning four decades, he has held exhibitions in numerous major museums including SFMOMA in San Francisco (1997), the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome (2004), the Art Museum in Beijing (2011), the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art (2016) and Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum (2019). He has also exhibited at major international showings including the Venice Biennale (1988, 1999).

“The content of Tatsuo Miyajima’s art revolves around timeless themes: time, eternity and continuity. It is a great privilege for us to have this opportunity to commission a work from a pioneer of new media art for EMMA and the Saastamoinen Foundation Collection,” enthuses EMMA Chief Curator Arja Miller.

Sky of Time features the new commissioned piece alongside two other works: Counter Falls (2018) and Counter Steps, a new installation displayed on the staircase leading up to the gallery. Miyajima’s earlier work Changing Time with Changing Self, No.5 (2001), is on display as part of the Touch exhibition featuring picks from Saastamoinen Foundation Art Collection.

Sky of Time was curated by EMMA’s Chief Curator Arja Miller and Päivi Karttunen, Chair of the Board of the Saastamoinen Foundation Arts Committee. A new publication will come out in November in conjunction with the exhibition featuring articles written by the curator Arja Miller and by Mami Kataoka, the new director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The book is available in the EMMA Shop.

Press images:
Password: emmamuseum 

For further information:
Asta Teräväinen, Communications Coordinator, tel. +358 44 7601930.

Photo: Tatsuo Miyajima, Sky of Time 2019
Photographer: Ari Karttunen, EMMA