Data Microhelix by Ryoji Ikeda

Data Microhelix by Ryoji Ikeda is an abstract audio-visual generated by pure data. The project undermines the invisibility of data and explores its potential to be percieved as a substance. The project serves to materialise data so that it can be comprehended and acknowledged. Patterns have been derived from hard drive errors and software code studies.

The audio does not have a distinct tone as it is quite neutral. Beats and sounds are mostly staccato but there is an underlying elongated sound that serves as a bass sound. The audio has informed the visuals so the two are in sync. Synaesthesia, the seeing of sounds, is an appropriate way to explain this relationship between audio and visual in this composition.

Rhythm is the main constituent of music. Despite the lack of harmony, melody and sense of progression within the audio, the piece can be classified as music due to the beat as well as the variation in pitch.

(Data.Microhelix 2010)

This perhaps influenced IBM’s project, ‘Making Music with Tennis Data’. In this project, IBM materialised data in audio form – in this case from US open tennis match data. The algorithm that forms this music has three parts; the data being sourced from the tennis matches, the sound output and the layer that translates the tennis data into music.

(Making Music with Tennis Data 2014)

(Match 4 – James Murphy Remix | The US Open Sessions 2014)


Data.Microhelix 2010, video recording, Ryoji Ikeda, <;.

Making Music with Tennis Data 2014, video recording, IBM, United States, <>.

Match 4 – James Murphy Remix | The US Open Sessions 2014, video recording, IBD, United States, <>.

R, Ikeda 2010, datamatics, viewed 1 May 2017, <>.

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