Arithmetik Garden

29 Oct 2007

I just returned from a trip to Japan and while in Tokyo I attended an exhibition at the Mori Art Museum that was simply amazing. The show was called Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art and overall the artists that participated were fantastic, with most of them creating pieces specifically for the show. However, the exhibition included one piece in particular that stands out as the best artistic use of RFID that I have seen.

Created by Sato Masahiko and Kiriyama Takashi the piece was called Arithmetik Garden. The premise of which is a space that one enters after picking up a card with a number on it. This card also contains an embedded RFID chip. One then wanders through a series of gates that contain RFID readers and are marked with mathematic operators combined with numbers (e.g. + 3, -8, / 2, * 7, etc.). The end goal is attaining a value of 73 by walking through the various gates to perform those operations on the current number before exiting the piece.

What is especially nice about this piece is that the technology is completely transparent, as the card is on a string which is placed around one's neck. This leaves a participant to focus on the math operations required and the freedom to enjoy the experience of walking through an interface rather than passively interacting with it. There is, however, a computer in the corner of the exhibit that will display the original number as well as all of the mathematical operations performed throughout the experience. It also displays the current number for those that are less mathematically-inclined.

Photos were not allowed in the exhibition, so here are a few that I found:

Arithmetik Garden 2

Arithmetik Garden 1