DUMBTYPE

LOVERS

DUMBTYPE

source: stephanbarronfreefr

Dumb Type

Teiji Furuhashi, 1960 Kyoto (Japon) – 1995

Ryoji Ikeda (Compositeur, installations) cédérom, CD audio

En 1984, le musicien performer et vidéaste Teiji Furuhashi fonde le groupe Dumb Type. Depuis, ce collectif d’architectes, de graphistes, de chorégraphes, d’acteurs, d’artistes, de vidéastes, de sculpteurs et d’informaticiens s’est distingué au plan international par des spectacles multimédia sophistiqués, proches du théâtre expérimental, et le plus souvent accueillis dans des structures spécialisées dans ce type de création.

Bien que les représentations scéniques “live” constituent la part essentielle des activités de Dumb Type, la qualité sculpturale et la richesse visueile des environnements qui servent de cadres aux performances situent l’œuvre du groupe à l’interface des arts du spectacle et des arts plastiques.

Les premières œuvres de Dumb Type proposent une vision sarcastique du Japon contemporain déchiré entre passé et futur, entre une tradition rafffinée lente et cérémonielle, et la culture bruyante noyée d’électronique des mégalopoles du Japon américanisé d’après-guerre.

Dans ces œuvres, les danseurs/acteursévoluent parmi des modules métalliques–socles illuminés par intermittence et supportant des objets d’usage courant et des moniteurs (Pleasure Life, 1987-1988), ou structures mobiles où sont fixées des grappes de projecteurs de diapositives (pH, 1990-1991) – I’action consistant en une succession de “moments” évoquant des comportements sociaux codifiés, autant de tableaux fragmentaires que les dispositifs visuels et sonores complétent ou enrichissent.

Dans la série de performances-installations intitulée S/N, la technologie de pointe qu’utilise Dumb Type sert moins la vision critique de la société japonaise développée jusqu’alors qu’une exploration des nouveaux types d’interaction entre l’homme et l’environnement techno-médiatique. Une caméra hxée sur un détecteur de mouvement balaye les images télévisées diffusées par 25 moniteurs alignés, et restitue des images secondaires altérées ( S/N n°l, 1992). Dans S/N n°2 créé la même année, 2 projecteurs mobiles circulent à des vitesses différentes sur le plafond d’un long couloir, et projettent respectivement des images fixes et un film vidéo. L’existence de deux séries d’informations visuelles formellement dissemblables, simultanées mais non synchrones, a pour effet de penturber la perception spatio- temporelle du spectateur.

Dans la pièce Lovers, créee par Teiji Furuhashi en 1994, I’exploitation des plus récents progrès de la technologie interactive dispense de recourir à des acteurs. L’observateur/acteur intervient sur les imagesde textes et de corps nus qui courent, se chevauchent ou se télescopent sur les murs de l’espace. En agissant sur des capteurs, il pilote l’apparition, la disparition et le rythme des images enregistrées que distribue, depuis le centre de la pièce, un empilement de vidéo-projecteurs gérés par informatique.
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source: momaorg

Computer-controlled, five-channel video/sound installation with five video projectors, eight-channel sound system, and slide projectors. Coproduced by the artist and Canon ARTLAB, Tokyo. Collection of the artist. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

“Lover” is a common word, and lovers are a popular subject in art. As an image, a pair of lovers often suggests a castle of exclusion. With the sexual liberation of the last few decades, the word now has more to do with physical coupling than with the sublimity of “true love.” AIDS has added a new dimension of wariness to this pairing.
The life-size dancers in Lovers are drained of life. Projected onto the black walls of a square room, the naked figures have a spectral quality. Their movements are simple and repetitive. Back and forth, they walk and run with animal grace. Their actions become familiar over time, so that it is a surprise when two of the translucent bodies come together in a virtual embrace. These ostensible lovers–more overlapping than touching–are not physically entwined.

Teiji Furuhashi was a cofounder of Dumb Type, an internationally recognized arts collective based in Kyoto. The group’s multimedia collaborations are irreverent takes on popular culture and the rigid stratification of Japanese society. Photo: Shiro Takatani, courtesy of the artist.
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source: exquiseorg

born in 1960, JAPAN
choreograph, media artist, dancer, musician, performer, visual artist, videographer, painter
Not long before Teiji Furuhashi succumbed to AIDS, his video “Lovers” was selected by New York’s MoMA for an exhibit that included works by the famed Gary Hill and Bill Viola. This artistic feat, while impressive, would hardly be earth-shattering — if it wasn’t for the fact that “Lovers” was Teiji’s first and last solo piece. Teiji created almost no solo work because of his dedication to Dumb Type, the Kyoto-based arts collective that he had co-founded. Seriously iconoclastic, the group lived outside the social strata and traditional mores of Japanese culture — from this self-imposed exile, it scrutinized Japanese customs, pop culture, and the fetishes of the information age. One of the group’s credos was that the members should only create art collectively. The day came, however, when Teiji needed to create something all his own. But he still wanted to leave behind a definite statement of Dumb Type’s philosophy. He also wanted to explore feelings and ideas related to AIDS. The result was “Lovers.” For Teiji, the subject of love and sex presented a vast field of contradiction. Love was a source of pleasure, fulfillment, and unity, but also a springboard into pain and death. The video portrays a pair of naked lovers, translucent and spectral, seemingly gliding through one another. They have no communication (if two lovers can’t communicate, how can a world?), yet they stop ever so often to embrace. They are unaware of each other save for these sporadic moments of intimacy. Their connection seems only physical, never mental or emotional. It’s a vision that’s creepy and beautiful at the same time. Working in Performance art, dance, Video art, and painting, Teiji was a symbol of artistic rebellion and freedom of expression in Japan. His leadership role at Dumb Type carried over into the political realm — he became an activist for both AIDS awareness and the homosexual community. He was only 35 when he passed away.
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source: epidemicnet

You enter an empty, square room. In the darkness, indistinct images appear on the surrounding walls. Several nude, nearly life-size men and women are walking, standing still, embracing one another. Their movements are slow and suspended, as if in a dream. Apart from the slight, almost inaudible whispers heard from time to time, there is nothing to break the silence. As your eyes adjust to the darkness you approach the walls in order to see the images better, but at that moment you are detected by sensors and a ring of words projected onto the floor around you transfixes you.
DO NOT CROSS THE LINE OR JUMP OVER !
When you look towards the wall in confusion as if to seek rescue, you will notice a new figure, also nude, moving slowly in your direction. This person who is none other than the artist himself, stops close to you and spreads both arms. Yet when you reach your hands out to him, he embraces himself and slowly falls backwards, vanishing. An aesthetics of disappearance that contains a sweet – yet incomparably cool – narcissism. Afterwards, the wordless, dream-like pantomime continues ceaselessly.
While its consists of images produced by life-size human figures, this work entitled Lovers is far removed from the concept of the living picture, or tableau vivant. It is especially removed from the most radical usage of the concept of living picture -the usage by which Pierre Klossowski described Balthus’ paintings, and which could also be applied to Klossowski’s own drawings. In his case “living picture”, in contrast to its lateral meaning, signifies the suspension and freezing of the vital drama of life in which the human figure is led away from life’s flow and placed in a world of deathless, eternal existence. In this type of living picture the human figures are fixed in boldly exaggerated, stiff poses, and the viewer senses an intensity that has been suspended in a boiling state.
Lovers is completely the opposite. Here, human figures become thin shadows, sliding and floating by, eventually disappearing without a sound. While it is a scene consisting of moving, life-size figures, it is in fact the exact opposite of a living picture, and in this sense may perhaps be termed a dying picture -tableau mourant. Yet it contains not a trace of tragedy or despair, but only a quiet affirmation of the constantly changing world, reminiscent of Epicurus or Lucretius more than anything Eastern.
One can perceive social and technological change underlying this type of opposition. In industrial society, it was possible to consider the body as the centre of resistance to mechanical systems. For precisely this reason, our theorist of living pictures sees the “phantasm of the body itself as the centre of resistance” at the basis of plastic arts.
In what is known as post-industrial society, however, the body has, on the one hand, achieved a global expansion through its direct connection to the web of electronic information; at the same time, it has been reduced to a surface image and has suffered the corrosion of bio-engineering and retro-viruses, thereby losing its stable boundaries and threatening to dissolve and flow outwards. In this situation, the presence of the phantasm of the body, not to mention the body itself, becomes uncertain, and the body’s image, transforming itself at will -or rather, being forced to change- eventually disappears into non-existence.
May Lovers then be considered an expression of the “aesthetics of disappearance” suited to the age of information and biological science -not in this sense, however, of a hard expression of extreme speed as conceived by the creator of this phrase Paul Virilio, but rather as a slow, soft expression ? In this beautiful, almost too beautiful work should we perceive a resignation and clear vision regarding the disappearance and absence of the body -death- under the post-modern condition ? Undoubtedly, there is more.
Lovers is a work of an extremely high degree of perfection and should be evaluated in and of itself. Yet certainly I may be allowed to pursue supplementary lines in order to re-examine it from various perspectives. In truth, the creator of “Lovers”, Teiji Furuhashi, was an active as the central member of the multi-media performance group dumb type, formed in 1984, and his 1994 work Lovers is closely linked to dumb type’s S/N, first performed in the same year.
S/N is a highly multi-faceted performance, with the character of “work in progress” usually associated with dumb type’s work, and it would be difficult for me to summarise it here. Only, by looking at the first few scenes it should be possible to infer the direction of the whole performance.
S/N, as it was first performed in Adelaide, begins with a strange scene of dialogue / translation. A man moves about on all fours while emitting unintelligible sounds. Teiji Furuhashi himself then enters as narrator and talks to this man who cannot hear -he is deaf but not dumb- and, translating his private language, explains that the man is trying to dance the tango, usually performed by a male and female couple. There is more. The label “Homosexual” is affixed to the man’s clothing. Upon closer look, the narrator also has the same label. Indeed, in the course of their humorous exchange it becomes clear that the man is a “male, Japanese, deaf homosexual”, the narrator, a “male, Japanese, HIV-positive homosexual”, and furthermore, that they are not merely playing these roles, for this is what they are in reality. Of course, this not a rite of confession, nor what can be considered its other side, a strategy of identity politics. Rather, by taking branded identities in reverse and locating its perspective there, S/N achieves a cutting intensity that pierces through reality.
The next scene shifts to a thrilling, high-tech performance (to use already out-dated terms). The stage is divided into upper and lower levels; the lower level consists of a wall upon which four video images are projected, while on the upper level people move left and right in the narrow passageway above the wall. Overall, the space lacks depth, empasising instead serial, lateral movements. As shown by the play on words “Conspiracy of Silence / Conspiracy of Science”, a cool allegory of modern scientific civilisation, which excludes anything alien while organising and categorising everything superficially, is played out through the projection of images and words and the interconnected mechanical movements of the people. As it reaches a climax, however, a different dimension is introduced. “I dream…my gender will disappear”. “I dream…my nationality will disappear”. A shrill female voice, or the voice of a deaf man, screams these words in agitation, even as they are rapidly blown up from the back to the front of the screen at right angles to the left-right movements. Illuminated by the flash strobe lights, the figures move like androids and insects on the passageway that has now become a precarious borderline; they then remove all their clothes, dropping down and disappearing into the back of the stage. An aesthetics of disappearance created with powerful intensity. Of course, if that were all, we could not help but take it as a post-modern desire for a dream. Yet, at certain moments -for example, the instant before the artist’s image embraces himself and disappears as he falls back- they show an indefinable expression of hesitation, as if perhaps they wish to ask us something. At precisely that moment of undecidable hesitation, neither a distinct appeal or a narcissistic self-enclosure, we are able to glimpse the possibility of the exchange of love, which differs from the high-intensity intercourse of sex, and is instead infinitely close to zero -which can only communicated, for example, by an almost inaudible whisper. Thus without thinking we reach our hands out of the image of the artist, even though we know we can never reach him. Yes, Lovers, with a low, coolly restrained voice that is never more or less eloquent than the radical, diverse agitation of S/N, continues to transmit to us the message of “love”.
Charles Fourier once conceptualised the dream of a “new world of love” in which all possible passions intersect while increasing their intensity without limit -a dream more radical than any subsequent vision of sexual revolution. What Klossowski, who may be considered a modern Fourierist, tried to realise in his living pictures through the phantasm of the body was nothing less than this dream. Instead of the differentiation of a love that allows for coexistence with others, however, the real world has merely brought about the uplifting of sex, which tries to make self and the other ultimately coincide, resulting in catastrophe. It is no doubt impossible to repeat the vision of a sexual utopia after the actual sexual revolution and AIDS. Rather, at a point infinitely close to zero, Lovers continues to whisper quietly its message of “love”. I would like to think that the dream of a “new world of love” emerges there like an artificial flower which has survived in a state of suspended animation and now blooms in cold water.