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The Power of Codes

(Ryojo Ikeda installation ‘code-verse’ in Centre Pompidou until 27 August 2018)

The following article gives a few thoughts about ways to show digital flows using three examples – movie, video installation and corporate video.

The digital age hasn’t only changed the economics of film/video and music production. New narratives have emerged, like in Tron or Matrix. With it, new visual images needed to be created. How to visualize a world where computers rule? How to show a world where people are creations of computers and are essentially comprised of data flows? Data flows are abstract. Looking at them, doesn’t convey any information other than that these are data flows.


The film Matrix invented the full screen image of ‘digital rain’ in the titles, but in the story of the film the world still appeared to be real and naturalistic. ‘Digital Rain’ itself is a poetic title. As it started to stand for Matrix and its idea, ‘digital rain’ suddenly became a meaning which is not necessarily visible in the title clip. However, the movements of the digits that seem to come down like falling stars evokes a feeling of watching something that lives and ceases to exist that isn’t usually associated with the binary world of data.


The digital artist Ryojo Ikasido doesn’t care about a story in his video installation ‘code-verse’ and he hasn’t time to tell a story. He wants to create an experience. In the Centre Pompidou, Paris / Garage Museum of Contempory Art, Moscow- exhibition, he projects with three projectors millions of signs and words that flow by on the screen. The result is impressive and due to the huge screen it’s (almost) immersive.


The extreme widescreen with three projectors was used by Abel Gance in his epos about Napoleon in 1927, originally. Abel Gance used the format to accommodate split screen as well as monumental battle and mass scenes.

In code-verse, there are only mass scenes – with codes. The mass of codes stands for the underbelly of our world that is the digital world. Gance used the format to show the rise of man who changed the world at his time, Ikasido shows what actually drives our world.


In corporate videos, showing codes has become a way to visualise the world to demonstrate the capability of a company which usually happens to be from the financial sector or IT . Recently,  Crystalfilm was creating a digital code sequence, as well. Here, it’s about a character realising that everything is driven by codes, including him.  The street is shown as constructed with binary codes.

And as it’s always one thing to speak about something visual, and something different to see it, here’s a compilation with examples from the ‘digital rain’ from Matrix, Ryoji Ikeda’s installation ‘code-verse’ and crystalfilm’s ‘digital awakening’. With regard to Ikeda’s installation, please note the little person lying on the left side very close to the screen, which gives you an idea of the size of the screen. Please, also note that the screen is cropped on both sides. Unfortunately, the Ikeda installation finishes on 27 August 2018 in Paris. So, hurry up should you be in Paris in the next days.



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