Rhizomatiks’ First Solo Exhibition in China: “rhizomatiks_multiplex 2023”

December 10, 2023

Date and Time: 10 December 2023 — 7 April 2024
(Monday – Friday 10:00-19:00 / Saturday – Sunday 10:00-21:00, Last admission: 30 minutes prior to closing)

Venue: Sea World Culture and Arts Center
1187 Wanghai Road, Shekou, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China

Inquirly: tel. +86 (0755) 2667 1187 e-mail.

Press release issued by the Design Society

(Shenzhen, 2023) Design Society is delighted to announce “rhizomatiks_multiplex 2023”, a major solo exhibition showcasing the world-renowned new media art collective, Rhizomatiks, commencing on December 10th, 2023. Marking Rhizomatiks’ inaugural solo exhibition in China, it will be curated by the acclaimed curator Yuko Hasegawa. The exhibition will be entirely led by the team, co-produced by Insula affiliated with Design Society. As an upgraded version tailored specifically for Chinese audiences, rhizomatiks_multiplex builds upon the widely praised Rhizomatiks exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT). 

Two representative of Rhizomatiks, Daito Manabe (left) and Motoi Ishibashi (right)

Since its inception 17 years ago, Rhizomatiks has been a creative team dedicated to exploring the relationship between humans and technologies. Their activities have crossed genres, which lead to continuous collaboration with the music group called Perfume since 2010. Furthermore, one of the founders, Daito Manabe has been working together with artists on a global scale, including, to name a few, Grimes, Arca, Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as the kyogen actor Mansai Nomura, and various researchers.  The spectacular special effects that illuminated Tokyo’s 8-minute performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics’ Flag handover ceremony were also crafted by Rhizomatiks. With their unremitting pursuit to the new potential of artistic expressions for the public, Rhizomatiks actively visualizes the humanistic imagination by artificial intelligence and virtual technologies. They have integrated cutting-edge creations in fields of music, dance, stage design and visual arts, earning them international acclaim.

ELEVENPLAY×Rhizomatiks×Kyle McDonald, “discrete figures”  Photo byYoshikazu Inoue

Rhizomatiks’ artistic practice transcends the realm of so-called “media art”, refreshing society as well as industries involving architecture, design, advertising and entertainment, through research and practices on data visualization. They are a full-stack collective comprised of artists, programmers and researchers, all working cohesively on ideas, covering everything from hardware and software development to operation. Along the way, Rhizomatiks has been vigorously reshaping the established art and cultural industries. 

Rhizomatiks × ELEVENPLAY, “multiplex”(2021) Exhibition View (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo), photo by Muryo Homma(Rhizomatiks) 

In today’s mercurial, complex and ambiguous world, our bodies oscillate between virtual and physical domains. As technology develops, the boundaries between the perceptible and imperceptible realms blur and blend, continually reshaping our understanding with novel implications. In light of this, Rhizomatiks explores the shifting boundaries of perception from myriad perspectives. Their collaborations with a diverse range of international performers have created a new form of bodily senses. Their collaborations based on intensive research with scientists and researchers, including notable works by Daito Manabe for his collaboration with neuroscientists and astronomers, have enabled what is invisible to come within our reach through data visualization.

Presented as Rhizomatiks’ debut in China, this large-scale exhibition features works that seamlessly merge virtual space into in-real-life experiences. By connecting Rhizomatks’ creations to the actual world via the use of digital technology, the exhibition becomes a laboratory that explores synchrony with a constantly changing environment. The exhibition unfolds from the work Rhizome, which encapsulates the data-driven developmental journey of Rhizomatiks over the years. Rhizomatiks got their name from the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who coined the term “rhizome,” which alludes to a self-generating, ever-evolving network of knowledge. Going deeper into the space, visitors will encounter several major works in their career. multiplex, a collaborative work between Rhizomatiks and Japanese dance company ELEVENPLAY, recently received an Honorary Mention in the New Animation category at Ars Electronica 2023. It creates a multilayered window on the work in real and virtual spaces. By immersing the audience in this environment, multiplex invites them to venture into the transcendent realms of time and space. Another award-winning installation work, particles, will unveil its reappearance in an updated version. Enormous balls roll on a huge rail with an organic spiral structure, and flashing lights floating in the air create illusion-like afterimages. The laser irradiation, which precisely tracks the position of the balls, has realized a unique and three-dimensional visual expression. rhizomatiks_multiplex will also unlock Rhizomatiks Archives and data systems accumulated over the years, assisting the audience to decode both the front and backstage of this top-tier new media art collective. 

Yuko Hasegawa, curator of exhibition, stated, “Following a major solo exhibition at MOT in 2021, the Rhizomatiks exhibition will take place in Shenzhen, the digital cultural capital of China, with two and a half years of preparation to update and enhance the exhibition. The MOT exhibition showed the interplay between the virtual and the real through the intersection of the material and the visual. This time Rhizomatiks Multiplex shenzhen, new works will be added that reflects the evolution of AI, the biggest topic in 2023. Using the latest technology, the project challenges the uncharted territory of visualisation and imaging of stories created by AI, as well as dance choreography and composition by AI, demonstrating the enormous potential to expand the creative possibilities of a digital medium that can be shared and used by everyone. This exhibition is the best opportunity to see their spirit of challenge, the process of trial and error without fear of failure, the technology and aesthetics to refine their expression, and a new world view in symbiosis with AI.”

Zhao Rong, director of Design Society, stated, “Rhizomatiks possesses a distinctive creative spirit that arises from their independently driven, collaborative and interdisciplinary working model. By synthesizing diverse artistic domains such as technology, music, visuals and performance, they continually explore new forms of human perception. Technological iterations have significantly shaped how we perceive and make sense of the world. Rhizomatiks merits recognition as one team meaningfully exploring this vital issue of our digital age through boundary-pushing works. I believe this exhibition will trigger transcendent imagination in all who encounter it.”

rhizomatiks_multiplex offers an overview of the interdisciplinary creations as well as showcasing various new projects synchronized critically with the “present”. A post-pandemic society is tilting increasingly online, spurring exploration of novel human connections in global digital transformation. Rhizomatiks has been implementing numerous projects and technological proposals against this chaotic backdrop, seeking to demonstrate the “new role of the artist” in our constantly morphing reality. 

The exhibition will run through 10 December 2023 — [Date] April 2024 and will be complemented by a series of lectures, talks, performances and other public events. Further updates and detailed information will be announced through Design Society’s official platforms.

Design Society
Design Society is a cultural and arts initiative co-founded by China Merchants Shekou (CMSK) and the Victoria and Albert Museum. As a creative platform in the cutting-edge city of Shenzhen, Design Society pursues collaboration with a wide range of organizations, including museums, academic institutions, educational institutions, and corporations, and has built an extensive network with institutions both in China and around the world.

Rhizomatiks is a creative collective that explores new possibilities of technology and artistic expression, focusing on experimental projects which involve a strong R&D heavy approach, while executing R&D projects and creation with elaborate research on the relationship between humans and technologies. The team consists of artists, designers and engineers, and takes responsibility in every process of the project, from hardware and software development to operations. The team keeps presenting cutting-edge works and researches through collaboration with other artists, researchers, and scientists.