Counter Ground


Tatsuo Miyajima ( Japanese, 1957 )

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General Description

In 1999, the Dallas Museum of Art commissioned Tatsuo Miyajima to create a work for one of its four quadrant galleries in the Museum's Barrel Vault. Rather than using a wall as he had often done, Miyajima focused on the floor. Counter Ground makes reference to attributes Miyajima found in the north Texas landscape: an impression of power emanating from the ground, the nonstop energy of a huge network of freeways and electrical grids, and a sense of endless expanse. It is a shimmering mathematical landscape that alludes to the power and age of the earth, particularly the Texas plains.

Miyajima uses LED (light-emitting diodes) numerals, found in alarm clocks and wristwatches, as his visual language. The LED numerals indicate energy either ascending (red) or descending (green). Each numeral, or diode, in the field counts from one to nine at its own pace, goes blank, and then repeats its individually timed sequence. According to Miyajima, his work deals with the recognition of humanity within a technologically driven global society.

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Counter Ground," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 343.

  • Charles Wylie, DMA label copy, 2009.