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Renowned Japanese Artist Tatsuo Miyajima Marks U.S. Debut of ‘HOTO’ Art Installation in Las Vegas

September 29, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

Inspired by Buddhist scripture, HOTO – meaning “treasure pagoda” – refers to a story about a monumental bejeweled tower that emerges from the ground, floats midair and covers half the world, symbolizing the importance of every human life.


According to Buddhist teachings, life cannot be described without such an impossible story because life is nothing but a miracle.

It was this scripture and the devastating events of September 11, 2001 that inspired Miyajima to create HOTO, which represents his belief that every life is important as well as his hope for inter-connectedness across the globe creating peace and community.

To share his message, Miyajima – recognized for work that merges a philosophical appreciation of life with the latest technologies – created a remarkable mirrored pagoda measuring 18 feet high and more than six feet around, inlaid with 3,827 vibrantly colored LED numerical displays in varying sizes. The LED displays flash the numbers nine through one in a descending, continuous series and at varying speeds, representing the never-ending cycle of life, the universal language of numbers and how every life moves at its own unique pace.

Focusing on interaction rather than exhibition, the circular tower features angled surfaces that play with the viewer’s reflection, allowing them to visually locate themselves in the art. This is indicative of Miyajima’s work in recent years, by which he summarizes his belief that art is the expression of creativity within each of us. “I’m trying to show that every human being is unique,” Miyajima explained.

Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, said, “Las Vegas visitors are more worldly in their travel habits than ever before and seek provocative, unique experiences. One of the ways we’ve responded to this is by introducing thought-provoking art that stimulates interest and energy. Along with renowned masters from generations past, our vision is to present contemporary and forward-thinking works that fascinate people of all ages, regardless of whether they are art aficionados or casual passersby.”

HOTO is part of MGM Resorts’ larger commitment to exposing Las Vegas’ global audience to Japanese culture. The Company recently presented the Kabuki Spectacle on the Fountains of Bellagio starring renowned Japanese actors Ichikawa Somegoro and Nakamura Yonekichi, an art installation at Bellagio by renowned sculptor Masatoshi Izumi and the first-ever Japanese-inspired display at Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

“The expansion of Japanese art and tradition on the Las Vegas Strip is a focus for MGM Resorts, and we continuously search for new and innovative ways to celebrate it,” Murren added.

The piece integrates three Buddhism-inspired concepts that dominate Miyajima’s life and work: the idea that everything changes, everything is connected, and everything goes on forever:

  • Modern Technology – Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and Miyajima’s utilization of the LED panels and electrical circuits embodies this concept.
  • Numbers – As a universal language, numbers represent the commonality and connection between all humans.
  • Programming – The piece is programmed to shift through numbers nine through one, skipping zero and instead going dark and starting over at nine to represent that life goes on forever even after death. In Miyajima’s world, life, death and digits are one and the cycle is never-ending.

Miyajima’s installation is the newest addition to MGM Resorts International’s Fine Art Collection and joins a significant display of commissioned and acquired fine art at The Shops at Crystals and within the connected ARIA Resort & Casino, including James Turrell’s “Shards of Color” (2014); Henry Moore’s “Reclining Connected Forms” (1969-1974); Masatoshi Izumi’s “CACTUS Life – living with Earth” (2007-2008); Maya Lin’s “Silver River” (2009); Jenny Holzer’s “VEGAS” (2009); Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” (1998-1999); Nancy Rubins’ “Big Edge” (2009); and Frank Stella’s“Damascus Gate Variation I” (1969), among many others.

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