The symbols used by Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima are instantly recognizable. Look at any stopwatch or scoreboard, and you’ll see the numerical digits at the heart of his work.
A new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art features Miyajima’s digital installations. It’s his first solo exhibition in the U.S. in more than two decades.
“I don't use 0 because it represents death and darkness,” says Miyajima, whose art reflects his Buddhist practice. “When the screen goes blank, that is essentially a signifier of death. 9 to 1 being lit up and cascading is a symbol of life. And this particular piece, the fact that there is 9 to 1 and then flashes of black really indicates this cycle of life and death."
“I'm very interested in this life and death dynamic,” he says. “The light-dark dichotomy is perfect for this, the contrast when light goes out, signifying death. This is really why I've chosen to use light as my main medium.
The “Tatsuo Miyajima” exhibition runs through April 19.