The Radar

A lone man stares up at the end of the universe.
A lone man stares up at the end of the universe.

After a day spent exploring the area around the Gion District 祇園 of Kyoto 京都 in late October 2016, I was heading back to my hostel with a couple of friends when we witnessed the construction of what looked to be a huge projector screen just beside the newly built Kyotookazaki Tsutaya book store, which takes it’s name from the adjoining Okazaki Park 岡崎公園. It was far from finished, so the mystery of it’s purpose went unresolved, but a week later, after slowly making my South along the Kamo River 鴨川; I ended up returning to satisfy my curiosity.


It turns out that the installation was for a piece of sound art by Ryoji Ikeda 池田亮司 titled ‘the radar’, which ran for 5 days from sunset to 10pm as part of the ROHM Theatre’sKyoto Experiment 京都国際舞台芸術祭’. What appear to be star and heat maps are endlessly scanned to a rhythmic backdrop of ambient tones, bleeps, bloops and white noise. Nothing ever gets found, and it loops after around 5 minutes or so, but I found it fairly hypnotic all the same – reminded of times studying and composing electroacoustic music in university, and getting weird with audio synthesis – trying to create meaning from melting and fracturing sampled sound beyond all recognition. Possibly ‘the radar’ is about this endless search for meaning in the void – the artist hasn’t offered an explanation so it’s all very much open to interpretation. It would be very meta though.


You can watch some of the spectacle here, although a 10m tall screen that takes up your entire field of vision would definitely be the way to go if you can swing it.