Japanese and artist. He finished undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986 and came to prominence in the late 1980s with installations of digital counters in the form of light-emitting diodes. He made his first counter in 1988 and subsequently retained this form as his basic building block: a large, two-digit red display, it continually counts from 1 to 99, never reaching 100 or registering zero. Often he wired together several counters together so that they triggered each other at various points; he called these groups ‘Regions' and saw them as representing a symbolic universe. In the first half of the 1990s he produced work as part of his 133651
series: ranging from small groupings of counters to large, complex installations, each work consisted of a row of ten two-digit counters with up to five wired together. Such a unit allows a total of 133,651 combinations to appear, hence the title. The project Running Time
(1994; see 1996–7 exh. cat.) showed a formal development in Miyajima's use of the counters: here he filled a dark room with small toy cars in constant movement which kept bumping into each other, triggering the counters mounted on their roofs to reset. Although Miyajima's work is indebted to Serial art of the 1970s and to the use of numerical systems by other artists, the artist himself spoke of his work as addressing humanist ideas within Buddhist philosophy.
Tatsuo Miyajima: Region (exh. cat., essays K. Yamawaki, J. Takeba and J. Poodt, Nagoya, City Mus., 1991)
Miyajima: Thousand Road (exh. cat., essay G. Koh, Ottawa, N.G. and elsewhere, 1996–8)
Tatsuo Miyajima: Big Time (exh. cat., essay M. Auping, Fort Worth, TX, Mod. A. Mus.; London, Hayward Gal.; 1996'7)
10 December 2000