Art Department

Back to Contents of Issue: March 2000

Scan Art

In contrast to this magazine's tagline, Kyoto-based performance group Dumb Type's might be People • Art • Technology.

Its OR theater piece ("OR" stands for operating room, either/or, zero radius, or the binary system) uses images and lighting on a white screen, in front of which the company performs. Founder Teiji Furuhashi explained the original conception of OR as exploring the border of life and death, and of technology's impact on that border. There's also a permanent OR exhibit at Tokyo's NTT InterCommunication Center, where four full-size LCD images of laid-out bodies, sandwiched between glass, switch on or off, move from one white slab to another, and are "scanned" by a line of white light; meanwhile, sensors detect visitor movements, which alter the images.

For the performance piece, Ryoji Ikeda provides an air-piercing, often computer-generated, sound. At the work's outset, his powerful electronic tone, pulsing with the scanner light, provides the simplest and perhaps biggest impact of the whole performance. (Ikeda also has his own output of electronic and computer-made music -- he's from Japan's eclectic "technoise" scene, and will be part of the NTT ICC Sound Art show until March 12.)

Furuhashi set a standard and intent that still lingers in the group's work, even five years after his death from AIDS. In his own exhibit, Lovers, naked people (computer coordinated lifesize projections from laser discs) wander between the four darkened walls of a walk-in cube, merging, meeting (or, more importantly, failing to do so), and being tracked by (again) that singular line before falling away. In the eerie quiet you cross paths with other watchers, and your shadow might even interrupt the projection. Partly through construction and partly through intent, you become absorbed in the exhibit's process as well as in its emotional impact. Technology in its most human form.

-- Andrew Pothecary


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