Dumb Type, Voyages  

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, "Dumb Type".

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 director.

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 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 terrain.

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.

October 27, 2002
NTT Inter-Communication Center