Dumb Type

Article Bio Works Projects Images Video www Extra
crossroads:
Aids, body, borderline experience, death, gender, technology
genre(subgenre):
Media Arts (multi media installation)
Performing Arts (dance, performance, theatre)
region:
Asia, Eastern
country/territory:
Japan
city:
Kyoto
created on:
May 14, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 15, 2008. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Article

Attack on the body and senses

Dumb Type is an artists´ collective founded in 1987 in Kyoto. It is committed with unparalleled resolve to the interaction of new technologies and the performing arts, thus transforming all reminiscence of local tradition. This interdisciplinary project includes composers, dancers, engineers, architects, translators, programmers, artists and graphic designers. Along with the audience the group transports itself as the performer to border zones of perception between life and death, inner and outer, image and reality. The performances by Dumb Type attack the recipient´s perception with their speed, volume, irritations in the transitional zones between real and virtual bodies, between representation and reality. This strategy has brought the group world-wide recognition.
Dumb Type, the artists´ collective that was founded in 1987 in Kyoto is almost unparalleled in its fusion of the body and new media. Both artists and audience are transported to border zones of perception between life and death, inner and outer, image and reality. The group asks the question posed by many Performers in East Asia: is the body a projection space for social, economic and political processes which are written into every individual? Or is the body the last core of resistance of archaically anchored identity in a culture?
The group has been pursuing this question from the very beginning. After their first production "Pleasure Life" had achieved a certain level of international success, Dumb Type secured a global triumph with "pH" which had its premiere in autumn 1990 in Tokyo and was also performed in 1991 at the Granada festival in Spain. In this multimedia masterpiece by Teji Furuhashi, the head of the group who died of AIDS in 1995, the stage acted as a huge photocopier which scanned the dancers from right to left like some copy object, subjecting them to innumerable choreographic constellations in the rhythm of an "exposure process". Parallel to this a slide projector showed images of urban environments and computer chips while a 16mm was also running.

The performances by Dumb Type are an attack on the observer´s perception. Dumb Type provokes the observers, besieges them with incredible force in order to overcome perception thresholds, break old habits and remind them of a space of peace and existence. The artists´ collective from Kyoto is committed with unparalleled resolve to new technologies and their influence on the performing arts, thus transforming all reminiscence of local tradition. Since the beginning of the 1990s the group has probably enjoyed far more international acclaim than any other Japanese cultural export product.

Their themes and performances are not always easy to digest: this applies to the artificiality of the theatre languages, the way they play on the surface appearances of people and objects, and the way they play with light and the theme of the realm of the dead. In the "S/N" production of 1992 Furuhashi came to terms with his AIDS illness. "S/N" fuses fiction and reality. Furuhashi, "male, Japanese, HIV positive, homosexual" played himself. In the 1992 production the dancers were banished to the roof of a four-metre-high wall of light from where their dramatic, "dumb" falls resemble plunges into a bottomless chasm. At the same time the audience watched four stage-filling projection screens with images of naked breasts gliding past or medicines for AIDS patients dancing to techno music. Body and identity had lost all validity when Furuhashi proclaimed: "I dreamed of losing my nationality. / I dreamed of losing my gender. / I dreamed of losing my passport."

After producing "Pleasure Life", "pH" and "S/N", Teiji Furuhashi was only able to realize the video installation "Lovers" which went on a world tour after his death on 29 October 1995 and is now in the New York Museum of Modern Art. As in "S/N", "Lovers" questions not only identity, the dancers also seem to lack any vestiges of personality. The virtual dancers seem to represent the anticipation of death. The life-size image of Furuhashi is projected on all four black walls of the room. He seems like an apparition from another world approaching the viewer with outstretched arms only to embrace itself before it disappears again. The dancers seem like hallucinated dream figures pursued by sentences such as, "Don?t fuck with me, fellah, use your imagination".

In "\OR" (as in "Orientation"), the Dumb Type performers concentrate on the border zone between life and death. The Japanese Butoh tradition of Ohno is a shamanistic concept which Dumb Type transforms into a concrete struggle with the theme of death through AIDS. "\OR" centres around a number of key images, such as recurring visits to Furuhashi´s death bed and the oppressive atmosphere of an intensive care unit. A two-hour staccato of flashing strobe lights transforms the stage into a place between this world and the next. Light becomes a physical stress factor. One dancer even loses her hair as a result. The group touches on the great ancient themes of humanity and uses all the available means of the electronic world. Each Dumb Type performer, with his physical condition, possibilities and limitations, is the absolute measure of the performance and finds himself woven into the reality levels of media, sound and image. Although there is not so much dancing, the vehicle of the media disjoins or accelerates the movements of the body by means of strobe lights so that the dancer seems suspended in mid-leap.

Butoh performances are conceived as a radical confrontation with the viewer´s physical experience. In a similar way, the Dumb Type performances attack the viewer´s perception with their speed, volume and irritations in the transitional zones between real and virtual bodies, between representation and reality. The battlefield of the stage is transmitted to the eyes and bodies of the observers who are bombarded to breaking point with visual and acoustic stimuli. Dumb Type also pursues this method in "MemoRandum" (1998) which is dedicated to the phenomenon of memory. This performance assaults the viewers´ senses to breaking point in a visual and acoustic overkill of electronic sound cascades.

In analogy to the "random choices" of virtual aesthetics, which delegate the artistic decisions to a computer generator, Dumb Type takes a similar path by allowing the representations of meaning to disintegrate. This is a way of lending description to the logic of the information society and creating an experience of the symbiotic relationship between the human being and the digital world in which the borders between human and electronic memory storage dissolve.

Dumb Type created its unprecedented installation entitled "Cascade" at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin as part of the exhibition "Translated Acts". "Cascade" is directly linked to the spectacular performance "MemoRandum". Two huge projection screens opened a three-metre-wide corridor. In the "normal state", a virtual waterfall was visible which transformed itself at regular intervals into a thundering sound and image collage. The viewer, poised between the two huge video screens, became part of the installation with his own reactions. Performance heightened the bombardment of the senses even more. Under the guidance of the choreographers, they were rehearsed by six performers from Berlin who then acted behind the screens. The performances by Dumb Type attack the recipient´s perception with their speed, volume, irritations in the transitional zones between real and virtual bodies, between representation and reality. Dumb Type provokes the viewers, attacks them with incredible force in order to overcome perception thresholds, break old habits and remind them of a space of peace and existence. The body becomes part of the media network, it is rediscovered for the theatre as an interior view or as a virtual play.

Bio

Dumb Type was founded in 1987 in Kyoto, Japan. Artists from a number of disciplines work together as a collective. The group developed in the exciting climate of Kyoto´s cultural scene where the members of Dumb Type soon moved into a central position. They founded Art Space, an institution which, for instance, provides accommodation for travellers passing through, offers space for regular meetings of diverse working groups and the development of local initiatives. "036 - Pleasure Life" brought them their first international success in 1988. Their international breakthrough came with the project "pH" which catapulted them into the top league of multimedia performers.
From 1992 onwards, when artistic leader Teiji Furuhashi announced his HIV illness, the work of the group focussed strongly on AIDS, homosexuality and death. This also applies to "S/N" which was realized in the same year. In 1994 Furuhashi worked together with "Canon Art Lab" to produce the video installation "Lovers (Dying Pictures, Loving Pictures)", which is now part of the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art. After Furuhashi´s death in 1995 the following works were produced: "\OR" (1997), "MemoRandum" (1999) and "Cascade" (2000/ 2001).

Works

Frost Frames_Shiro Takatani Installation

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Lille 2004, Lille, France

LOVERS_Teiji Furuhashi Installation

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Lille 2004, Lille, France

Voyage

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Installation. Lille 2004, Lille, France

Voyage

Production / Performance,
2004
Performance. Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Yamaguchi, Japan; Novel Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

Voyages

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Installation. Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Yamaguchi, Japan

Frost Frames_Shiro Takatani Installation

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Lille 2004, Lille, France

LOVERS_Teiji Furuhashi Installation

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Installation. Lille 2004, Lille, France

memorandum

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Installation. Lille 2004, Lille, France

memorandum

Production / Performance,
2003
Performance. Modafe 2003, Seoul, South Korea; Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Play house, Bangkok, Thailand; The Forum Melbourne, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia; The Roy and Edona Disney_CalArts Theater, Los Angeles, USA; Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, USA

memorandum

Production / Performance,
2003
Performance. Modafe 2003, Seoul, South Korea; Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Play house, Bangkok, Thailand; The Forum Melbourne, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia; The Roy and Edona Disney_CalArts Theater, Los Angeles, USA; Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, USA

memorandum

Production / Performance,
2003
Performance. Modafe 2003, Seoul, South Korea; Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Play house, Bangkok, Thailand; The Forum Melbourne, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia; The Roy and Edona Disney_CalArts Theater, Los Angeles, USA; Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, USA

Voyage

Production / Performance,
2003
Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar, Weimar, Germany; Biwako Hall, Shiga, Japan; The Roy and Edona Disney/CalArts Theater, Los Angeles, USA; Maison des Arts de Creteil, Creteil, France

Voyage

Production / Performance,
2002
Performance. Centre de Dveloppement Choregraphique+TNT-Theatre de la Cite, Toulouse, France; Le Parvis, Ibos-Tarbes, France; Saitama Arts Theater, Saitama, Japan; Theater Drama City, Osaka, Japan

memorandum

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Installation. École superieure des beaux-arts, Toulouse, France

memorandum

Production / Performance,
2002
Performance. New Opera of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA; On The Boards, Seattle, USA; PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art), Portland, USA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA; Festival ART ROCK, La Passerelle, St Brieuc, France; Maison des Arts de Creteil, Creteil, France; Singapore Arts Festival, Victoria Theatre, Singapore; Istana Budaya and The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

cascade

Production / Performance,
2001
Installation and performance. Translated Acts: Performance and Body Art from East Asia, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany

Love/Sex/Death/Money/Life

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
Installation. vision.ruhr, Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany

cascade

Production / Performance,
2000
Installation and performance. Stanze e Segreti, Salone del Mobile, Milano, Italy

memorandum

Production / Performance,
2000
Charleroi Danse, Charleroi, Belgium; GRAME + Maison de la Danse, Lyon, France; Centre de Developpement Choregraphique+TNT-Theatre de la Cite, Toulouse, France; Teatro Central, Sevilla, Spain; Julidans, Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; tanz aus japan: internationales sommerfestival 2000, Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany; La Batie Festival de Geneve, Batiment des Forces Motrices, Geneve, Switzerland; The Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan; New National Theatre, Tokyo, Japan; Theater Drama City, Osaka, Japan

Cascades

Production / Performance,
2000
2000/2001

Dangerous Vision

Production / Performance,
1999
(Concert - in co-operation with Art Zoyd and Lille National Orchestra, France) Lille, Maubeuge, Creteil, France

MemoRandum

Production / Performance,
1999

OR

Production / Performance,
1998
performance Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria Tokyo International Festival of Performing Arts, Tokyo, Japan

OR

Production / Performance,
1998
performance EXPO ´98 Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal Barbican Centre, London, Great Britain Kampnagel, Hamburg

OR

Published Audio,
1998

OR

Production / Performance,
1997
(concert)

S/N

Production / Performance,
1996
performance Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hong Kong Teatro Central, Sevilla, Spain

Monkey Business Class

Production / Performance,
1996
Musical Performance - in co-operation Hotel Pro Forma, Denmark, and Diller & Scofidio, USA Malmö Musik Theatre, Malmö, Sweden Musikteatret Albertslund, Albertslund, Denmark

S/N

Production / Performance,
1995
performance Theatre de Esch, Luxemburg Kunsten Festival des Art, Brussels, Belgium Züricher Theater Spektakel, Zürich, Switzerland Spiel Art, Munich Festival International of Performing Arts, São Paulo, Brazil

S/N

Exhibition / Installation,
1995

"Lovers (Dying Pictures, Loving Pictures)"

Exhibition / Installation,
1994
Video installation at the Museum of Modern Art, NY

S/N

Production / Performance,
1994
performance Adelaide Festival, Adelaide, Australia The King Theater, Seattle, USA Landmark Hall, Yokohama, Japan

Love/Sex/Death/Money/Life

Exhibition / Installation,
1994
installation Spiral, Tokyo, Japan

pH

Production / Performance,
1993
performance Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Zürich, Switzerland

pH

Production / Performance,
1992
performance Wiener Festival, Austria Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia

S/N #1

Exhibition / Installation,
1992
installation Museum of Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium

The Enigma of the Late Afternoon

Production / Performance,
1992
Performance - in co-operation with Hotel Pro Forma, Denmark Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

S/N #2

Exhibition / Installation,
1992
installation Art Tower Mito, Mito, Japan

pH

Production / Performance,
1991
performance Art in the Anchorage, New York, USA Granada Festival, Granada, Spain Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland

pH

Film / TV,
1991
video Japan Satellite Broadcasting, Japan

The Polygonal Journey #2

Production / Performance,
1990
Performance - in cooperation with The Bridgehouse Collection Northern Light Planetarium, Tromso, Norwegen

pH

Production / Performance,
1990
performance Spiral Hall, Tokyo, Japan

pH

Exhibition / Installation,
1990
exhibition Spiral Garden, Tokyo, Japan

The Polygonal Journey #1

Production / Performance,
1989
Performance - in co-operation with The Bridgehouse Collection Artspace Mumonkan, Kyoto, Japan

Play Back

Exhibition / Installation,
1989
Installation/Video San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Pleasure Life

Production / Performance,
1988
Performance Quest Hall, Tokyo, Japan Theater im Pumpenhaus, Münster, Germany ICA, London, Great Britain

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

dumb type

memorandum and cascade

(22 March 01 - 16 April 01)

Www

Homepage of the artists

images
from the Performance PH
from the Performance S/N
video

Music excerpt taken from the performance "S/N"

play video

Music excerpt taken from the performance "PH"

play video

Music excerpt taken from the performance "OR"

play video
extra

from the Performance OR

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