Time Lift, 2000

Tatsuo Miyajima

Light installation with 104 blue LED bulbs
9 x 3.8 cm, each bulb

© 2006, Tatsuo Miyajima

Image copyright Stefan Altenburger

Time is like air. If we try to grasp air, there is nothing.

Tatsuo Miyajima's light works have their origins in his early performances, a time when he was interested in the idea that "objects might be perpetually transforming" and unstable. During this time he became fascinated with the "potential of light and movement". He then discovered LEDs and its potential to achieve what has become his (Buddhist-inspired) mantra – "keep changing, connect with everything, continue forever". This is why he uses numbers in his work, such as Time Lift. And as they are randomly programmed to count between one and nine they, as Miyajima says, "set up all sorts of mental associations which vary according to the audience". At the heart of this is his exploration of time. "Time", he says, "is like air. If we try to grasp air, there is nothing." Looking at the LED's, we notice that the numbers never reach zero. Why? "Avoiding zero is a deliberate inclusion of a void", he says, "a rejection of the idea of nothingness". In this way, as we look at these flashing numbers, we can feel very much alive.