Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Tatsuo Miyajima (Japanese, b. 1957)

Counter Circle 19, 1993

L.E.D., IC, wooden panel, and electric wire

Installed: 2 1/4 x 164 in. diameter (5.7 x 416.6 cm diameter)


Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, and restricted gift of Werner Kramarsky, Jackie Rabin, and Dedrea and Paul Gray
1997.74

This work is one of a series of the artist’s “counter circles,” a group of works that present questions about the meaning and measure of time through the use of repetition and change. Each unit counts one through nine, but the variable rates of the counters result in constantly changing and unique combinations of numbers, suggesting a nonlinear notion of time. The artist also considers these repetitions and variations as a metaphor for social organization. Miyajima counteracts the usual use of numbers to rank people and things by using the nonhierarchical form of the circle. Continuing with the artist’s metaphor, this work can be seen as a model for an egalitarian society.