"Gesamtkunstwerk" refers to the bringing together of all the
arts to form the perfect piece. It is a German expression most closely
associated with operatic composer Richard Wagner. However the term could
also be applied to the work of a contemporary Kyoto based arts collective,
Over the last twenty years, Dumb Type has brought together a diverse group
of people seeking a fusion of the arts. Dance, theatre, visual arts, video,
multi media, design, architecture, sculpture and music are some of the
disciplines, which combine to form Dumb Type. However, this group's quirky
performances laced with humor, irony and technology seem a long way removed
from anything ever envisioned for an opera house.
"Voyages", is their new interactive video installation now on display
at the ICC. The exhibition includes a series of screenings of Dumb Types
past performances from 1988 to the present. Also included in the show
are a sound and light installation by Ryoji Ikeda who is their musical
Dumb Type was formed in Kyoto in 1984 and many of the original members
studied at the Kyoto City University of the Arts. Over the past five years,
their work has begun to integrate digital and multi media technologies
into their performances. Dumb Type's art addresses a variety of issues
from gender issues to universal themes of life and death.
"Voyage", involves a complicated mechanism of moving projectors to achieve
a seemingly simple image. Projected onto a floor screen/platform, by about
five computer-synchronized projectors, is a landscape. This landscape
image flows across the floor Ð as if the viewer is moving across the earth.
On top of this river of landscape are projected two small square images
of maps -- geographical references. The two map images move up and down
the length of the piece. Their video projectors are on rails above. A
haunting mechanical soundscape accompanies the work, which is echoed by
the grind and hum of the mechanics of motors and projectors.
While the video images seem to relate they remain disconnected. The video
landscape never quite matches with the mapped representation. The roving
maps are stuck in their tracks in an endless search across the revolving
Wagner's epic Ring Cycle of operas traced a journey from underworld to
Valhalla, land of the Gods and back again. Dumb Type's video voyage seems
on a never-ending search. However, both seem to reaffirm that in life,
it really is the voyage that is more important than the destination, which
remains the same for all of us.