I was invited over to Japan in 2005, by Dance Media Japan* (see below). We made this half-hour performance piece in just over a week – I think it’s pretty much the hardest I’ve worked in my life, although I got the feeling that some of my collaborators work like that all the time (I’m carefully treading around national stereotypes here). I’d also say that while I’ve been involved with a lot of projects combining dance/performance with technology, this is by far the most complex.
We did performances in Tokyo (in the rather wonderful Spiral Hall), Kyoto and Yamaguchi (way down south in Onsen – volcanic springs – country). In each location I directed a 3-4 day workshop on media performance (or something) with a group of young artists. The whole thing was incredibly intense, exhausting and hot, but ultimately also extremely rewarding. I felt very privileged to be working with such amazing people, both in terms of this production and the workshops. You’ll find a few videos of both here on my site.
Please note that these excerpts are not contiguous (or even in order, time-wise). See the foot of the page for some nice photos..
This was very much a collaborative project. I co-directed it with Hizume Giga. People’s roles would be quite hard to define precisely, but the credits would be something like this:
Joseph Hyde – Direction, Sound, Video, Software
Hizume Giga – Direction, Choreography, Design, Dance
Kunihiko Matsuo – Sound, Video, Software
Kazuyasu Kochi – Light Installation
Shigetake Ao – Surround Sound Projection
Salmon – Sound
Yayoi Hatanaka – Dance
Eriko Otsu – Vocal
Toru Ikegami – Technical Support
Naoto Iina – Producer/Manager
supported by the British Council and YCAM
This is one of the busiest sections where you can see pretty much everything working together. We developed an extremely complicated network between various computers/applications and hardware (including my own AViator system running sound and video) so that everything was beautifully synchronised and choreographed, and the dancers could effectively control every aspect of the media and technology used in the production.
This section centres around a performance by Eriko Otsu, who is trained in the traditional style of Shigin chanting. From my limited understanding, this discipline involves striving to make the whole body resonate (there seem to be some parallels with Mongolian throat singing). I tried to reflect this by making a kind of responsive resonating chamber – the shape, or ‘vessel’, you can see on screen here was generated live according to the volume and frequency content of the voice. The voice was also sampled, to make a re-appearance later in the performance.
Amplified was all about varous kinds of interactivity, and here we have a strange kind of interaction between performers, with the dancers conjuring up the ghost of the singer, and using her voice to ‘sing’ themselves. The movement of the dancers is tracked using two cameras – this data is used to control the playback of the sound (using granular synthesis), so that the dancers can precisely control the vocal melody. We also see a return of the ‘big red ball’ (as seen in excerpt 2) which once again serves as an abstract representation of the body, here providing a kind of ‘partner’ for the dancers.
* Dance Media, or Media Performance, or Dance and Media, seems to be a uniquely Japanese concept. Although people are combining performance and technology all over the place, what seems distinctive about Media Performance is that the ‘media’ part is just as prominent, if not more so, than the ‘performance’ part. Much of the work that I’ve seen in this field is closer to what I’d call an installation than a performance – I’d say that Amplified comes close to that point.
The pioneers of this kind of work were Dumb Type, who are no longer in operation, but contemporary companies include NEST, Sal Vanilla and CMProcess (some of these people were involved in this production, in fact).