On a Thursday morning a dapper Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, is standing in the Shops at Crystals discussing Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima’s 18-foot mirrored pagoda placed in front of Dolce & Gabbana and lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Hoto” features more than 3,000 LED-lit numbers in varying sizes that change in descending order from nine to one (then go blank), each at its own pace. Mesmerizing, mechanical and unexpected, the 2008 sculpture, inspired by Buddhist scripture and 9/11, stops passersby who pause for a moment of contemplation and to better understand its purpose.
That “Hoto” looks like a time machine dropped in the high-end and famously austere shopping mall, fits. Its cyclical process represents the never-ending cycle of life and holds ideas that live in much of Miyajima’s work: Everything is always changing. Everything is connected. Everything continues forever.
Murren, a noted art collector and proponent of creating more enriching environments on the Strip, says “Hoto” hasn’t been seen outside Asia. It appeared on the heels of the Kabuki Spectacle performed within the Bellagio Fountains, a recent MGM effort to showcase Japanese art and culture on the Strip.
Great art brings in great diversity, says the executive whose corporation brought in CityCenter’s $40 million collection, with works by Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg and Maya Lin, whose piece above Aria’s registration desk addresses water issues and the Colorado River. “We’re not trying to hit people over the head with a message. We’re trying to ignite a conversation.”
Miyajima’s work, celebrating the uniqueness of all individuals, will likely do that. It connects with its environment at Crystals, reflecting in the floors and shop windows of the Daniel Libeskind-designed building. Amid the universal language of numbers viewers see themselves reflected, too—an unusually different take in a visually bombastic city of lights and numbers.