The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
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Artist Interview
The world of Takayuki Fujimoto, a lighting artist at the forefront in Japan’s multimedia performance scene
The world of Takayuki Fujimoto, a lighting artist at the forefront in Japan’s multimedia performance scene
true (Dec. 8 – 9, 2007 at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)
Direction/Lighting Design: Takayuki Fujimoto (Dumb Type)
Choreography/Dance: Tsuyoshi Shirai (AbsT/baneto)
Choreography/Text/Dance: Takao Kawaguchi (Dumb Type)
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Photo by Hiraku Ikeda
Presented by 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
T: How is that kind of technical form of expression related to the theme of true?

F: It is related to the meaning or the work’s title, true. Is it true that we really exist as we think we do? That is the theme. We think of sound as the things we can hear, but since sound is vibration there are sounds we can’t hear. So what is sound actually?
 The performances may be said they are live art, but aren’t they actually just performing previously choreographed movements in time with the sound? So what does “live” really mean?
 It is the same with color. We can ask things like, “Why do we see so many different color from combinations of RGB (red, green, blue)?” We think that the world we see in front of our eyes is the real world made up of absolute and unchanging things, but is it “true” that things exist that way. So we decided we would give that some thought. It is like a Zen riddle (laughs).

T: In true you collaborated with many creators like Manabe-san. How do you proceed with such multimedia collaborations?

F: The question of how to best share information and create a work together is something we are always dealing with. I have tried a number of methods, such as creating something like a school bulletin board on the Net where people can leave messages to each other, but I actually am still in the trial-and-error stage. Within Dumb Type we basically know what each other are thinking and we have a language and terminology of our own, so there is more room for ambiguity, but when we are working on a new piece with new people, that isn’t a viable way to work.
 So, with true I created a sort of work matrix for each of the members of the creative team. I divided it by scenes and posted my thoughts about what I wanted to happen in each of them like a director’s notes. But, these were not things that were already decided, rather they were ideas in progress to be developed on.
 I created the matrixes using Excel and at the end of each day’s work I sent out emails to everyone reporting what progress had been made in each area, and I also had everyone send back responses about what needed to be done next. As the updates continued to be added it eventually became something equivalent to a director’s script. Members whose contributions couldn’t be explained in text would send in sound or video clips as samples. I would then check them and send back email responses. That kind of exchange was made every two or three days and I made it so that everyone had access to this information and shared knowledge of it.
 Also, in the case of multimedia works, for about the first week of rehearsals everything is still disorganized as people are putting together their programs and there is nothing much that the performers can do during that time. When we start practicing and something goes wrong, the person in charge will say, “I’m going to fix this,” and he will go off for an hour or so and fiddle with the program while the performers have to wait (laughs). When that happens too many times the performers are on the verge of tears and saying they can’t collaborate that way. Of course Kawaguchi-san is all right with that, and since Shirai-san is a person who makes video works himself, he knows what the technical people are doing and can make suggestions about the systems. If it isn’t people like that, we can’t create a work together.

T: In true, the scenes were named Japanese, Arithmetic, Science, Social Studies and Music like a school class schedule.

F: That’s right. The scenes were titled with the names of school subjects like Japanese and arithmetic and at first we had everyone contribute their ideas for key words to go along with them. For example, “Music is Waves” or “Music is Mathematics.” These “Something is something” key words were also posted on the matrixes so we could build specific images from them. For better or worse, the elementary school textbook is the first picture of the work that a child encounters.

K: I was in charge of the Japanese scene, so besides my performance I had to compose specific words as well, but they just didn’t come to me. I was really at a loss (laughs).

F: I had been preparing the scene from the beginning with the intention of having Kawaguchi-san do the work part. There is a scene where words are floating in a blue light and those words were taken from the text that Kawaguchi-san wrote. When you watch the scene live it looks as if the visuals are moving in response to the words Kawaguchi-san is speaking, but in fact it is the opposite. We first had a taped version of the soundtrack played and Kawaguchi-san did his talking performance in time with that. Then we took cues from that and rigged it so that the visuals and lighting operated from those cues.
 
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