We had admired a splendid installation at a Venice Biennale by this Japanese artist and then visited some exhibitions, and we wanted to acquire a work by him that could be placed in a small space, and that was significant and absolutely "typical" of Miyajima's best known works. This Oblique Three corresponded perfectly to our expectations. I know the meaning of the artist's work, even though at the beginning the rhythmic succession of the luminous numbers, on his installations, had fascinated and attracted me like an astonished child before an unknown phenomenon. Then the meaning of his way of working was clarified for me: I relate it, however, to the oriental philosophy that brings, in an entirely naturalistic vision, death closer to life.
I have said many times that the viewer can "experience" the work in his own way, bestowing upon it a different interpretation from that impressed by the thought of the artist, enriching, in a certain sense, its essence. In the case of this work by Miyajima, I think that I have actually carried out a pure mystification, directed at my daily microcosm. The numbers that follow on one after another have become, for me, the rhythm of the time that marks the seconds of the events/occurrences in our lives as human beings (and in this I have remained faithful to the artist). Only that, to these events,
I have attributed characteristics that are delightfully positive: births, breaths, desires, impulses, joys and even thoughts (in this instance positive or negative, given that for me the world of ideas is a world that goes beyond any fears). I know well that the attentive viewer owes a deeper devotion to the artist, but this time I have been more faithful to my inner nature with all its fragilities. I think that the artist might forgive this confession of conscious guilt. However, to the guests who ask me the meaning of the work I speak only of the passing of time, without giving any connotation to this. At least in this I am honest.
Constant flux, abundant connections, and eternal continuation form the crux of Tatsuo Miyajima’s artistic practice. Drawing inspiration from modern science as well as Eastern and Western cultures, Miyajima’s LED counters, or ‘gadgets’ as he refers to them, aim to create quiet, yet unsettling balances between order and disorder. Operating at different speeds as well as
in varying sequences, Miyajima’s numeric digits appear as disembodied symbols that flash in continual and repetitious cycles from 1 to 9. Representing the journey from life to death, Miyajima adopts the teachings of Buddhism - likening the numeric zero to the ku or void. It is for this reason that the zero never appears in Miyajima’s work, instead when the value approaches the counter goes blank. As the viewer becomes hypnotized by attempting to decode the endless cycling of numbers they become more aware of the passage of time and subsequently of time as a mental construct. As a result, Miyajima’s counters serve as metaphors for our own internal clocks.