Fujimoto began participating in projects of the performance group Dumb Type in 1987. He designed the lighting for the performance works S/N
and went on to do the lighting design and overall technical management since OR
. He also worked with Ryoji Ikeda on the video and music concert series formula
and has participated primarily as the lighting designer in performance and multimedia works by a number of overseas artists including the Hong Kong choreographer Daniel Yeung, the Vietnam-born French choreographer Ea Sola, Singapore’s video artist Choy Ka Fai and others. In recent years he has worked on the installation/concert path
with the guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi and the singer UA, collaborated with the dance company Monochrome Circus to create works like Refined Colors
and lost that make use of the unique potential of LED lighting. For his latest work true
in 2007, he worked with two performers, Tsuyoshi Shirai (AbsT/BANETO) and Takao Kawaguchi
(Dumb Type) and put together a multi-talented technical team to focus on integrating LED lighting with other digital devices in order to create a highly organic stage work. In his working process he actively employs the latest digital technologies in works for the stage with the aim of creating new “circuits” to connect directly to the audience with no less strength than the connection created by the stage performer communicating directly to the audience in a live stage experience.
true tour schedule (Japan and Europe)
Dates: Aug. 6 – 9, 2009
Venue: Setagaya Public Theatre / Theatre Tram
Dates: Sep. 25 and 26, 2009
Venue: Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam (SSBA)
Date: Sep. 29. 2009
Venue: Parktheater Eindhoven
Dates: Oct. 3 and 4, 2009
Venue: Tanzhaus NRW Dusseldorf
Dates: Oct. 9 and 10, 2009
Venue: Mousonturm Frankfurt
Dates: Oct. 15 – 17, 2009
Venue: Maison de la culture du Japon a Paris
|As a member of the pioneering multimedia performance group Dumb Type, Takayuki Fujimoto has helped open up new horizons in computer-controlled lighting. In recent years he has concentrated efforts on projects that explore the possibilities of LED lighting, and in collaboration with performers and creators trained at the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS) he has experimenting with forms of spatial expression where sound, visuals, performer movements and lighting are digitally synchronized. Just prior to the overseas tour (the Netherlands, Germany, France, etc.) of a revived production of one of his representative works, true, we spoke with Fujimoto about his artistic world, beginning from his early work with Dumb Type and going on to his views on the future of LED lighting in the multimedia performance scene he has continued to support as a lighting artist.
(Interviewers: Takao Kawaguchi (Dumb Type); Eiko Tsuboike)
Lighting as multimedia performance, in the creative style developed at Dumb Type
Kawaguchi: Fujimoto-san and I are both members of Dumb Type. I joined the company in 1999 and you were a participating member from the company’s earliest days. From what I hear you were not in charge of lighting at first. Can you begin by telling us how that came about?
Fujimoto: I was a high schoolmate of the late Teiji Furuhashi, who was a central figure for me and for Dumb Type. We both went on to study at Kyoto City University of Arts.
Once there, I chose to join the volleyball club, and so did quite a list of people who would later make a name for themselves in the art world. To name a few there the artist Noboru Tsubaki a few years before me, and the artist Hiroshi Fuji, one year my senior, and then me. After that, Toru Koyamada who would later become a Dumb Type member and Koichi Emura of Kyupi Kyupi joined. A year younger than them Hiromasa Tomari who would also later become Dumb Type member. After him came Kenji Yanobe and Tadasu Takamine, as well as the contemporary artist Nobuaki Date who makes ukuleles, and a little after them came Yoshimasa Ishibashi of Kyupi Kyupi. It is sort of a legend that all of these artists started out from the same volleyball club sweating and doing the same hard training together. What’s more, Fuji, Koyamada, Tomari and Takamine are all from Kagoshima Prefecture and were a close-knit group as a result.
After Fuji joined the University’s theater company “Gekidan za-Karma” that would eventually become the forerunner of the company, other artists who would later become core members of Dumb Type, including Furuhashi and Koyamada, also joined the “Karma” and that is how Dumb Type came to be formed later on.
I myself didn’t join the Karma but continued to study oil painting while also making stage sets as a part-time job that I had begun in my freshman year at the university. Making stage sets was a common part-time job for art students and we made sets at theaters like the public halls and Kaburenjo (theater for geisha) in Kyoto. In the process I became familiar with the language of the theater and how things happen on stage, as well as the stage hierarchy; who the director is and who you should take orders from for each job. This work became very interesting to me and by my senior year in university I was basically working as a freelance set builder.
When I graduated (in 1984), I rented a large studio space with about 50 sq. m. in the Sagano district of Kyoto. And since the floor above it was vacant, the Dumb Type members who were graduating around that time decided to rent it as their office. Then I became involved for the first time with one of their productions because I knew a good deal about theater. That was Suimin no Keikaku (Plan for Sleep), their first production outside the university, and my role was as the set builder.
For the production 036-PLEASURE LIFE (premiered 1987), Dumb Type used multimedia for the first time.I had a friend who was involved in electronic circuitry and I got to join him to make a video switcher, a lighting control device and motor controllers for us. At that time I was working on the set and props with Koyamada.
K: I saw PLEASURE LIFE in a promotional video and the use of many round florescent lights impressed me and I was surprised that such lighting was possible. Was that a design by Shiro Takatani?
F: Takatani did the designs for 036-PLEASURE LIFE, PLEASURE LIFE, pH and S/N. Takatani’s lighting is cool, but he doesn’t use stage lighting. He is an architect and was working at architectural offices, so he chose his lighting [fixtures] from architectural-use catalogs, and what he couldn’t get that way we made by ourselves.
Around the time of 036-PLEASURE LIFE, Sony released a monitor that could take video input (SONY PROFEEL) and production-model VHS cameras could also be purchased about the same time. That made it possible to display images in real time on a monitor as you were filming them live with a VHS camera. But, it wasn’t possible to create our own computer graphics at that time, or at least nothing better than something with the appearance of an electrocardiogram image. Even so, Dumb Type kept pace closely with the technological advances of the times in creating new modes of expression.
By the time of S/N (premiered 1992) the performance of the Mac computers had reached the point where we could create our own computer graphics. Video projectors were expensive but Dumb Type also managed to buy about four of them and Takatani was put in charge of [video] visuals with Furuhashi. Then it was decided that someone should be in charge of lighting, and since I had some knowledge of the workings of theaters, I volunteered. The first production I did the lighting plan for was OR (premiered 1997).
K: So you started as a set builder and moved up to lighting artist.
F: Since I had never been formally trained in lighting technology, I called myself a “special lighting technician.” (Laughs)
K: What was it like working on S/N?
F: S/N was at first (#1) an installation work, but while we were in the midst of talks with Denmark’s Hotel Pro Forma about doing a collaboration, Furuhashi collapsed. So we had to leave him behind and go to Denmark without him. But then we got a letter from him saying that he was HIV positive and the disease had developed into a full-fledged case of AIDS. That brought a clear vision of a theme for S/N as a performance work. We were already scheduled to go to Adelaide (Australia), so we worked hard to get the work ready. Takatani did the lighting plan and I worked with the local Australian staff—asking them things like what a “patch” was—to put together the program and then work desperately to operate it. That was my first experience in lighting.
Eventually, each of the Dumb Type members became busy with their respective jobs and I became the technical manager responsible for using a CAD program to do of all the blueprints for a production including stage sets, audio, visual and lighting. A Dumb Type project can’t come together unless there is a centralized system, and since I was familiar with sets too, it became my job to do all the set and lighting blueprints and deal with the outside technicians, etc.