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Jun 3, 2015

Hiroaki Umeda: Particles of Light

Presented within the A/VISION series of Mutek festival, the Japanese contemporary dancer and choreographer Hiroaki Umeda offered two perfermances: Split Flow and Holistic Strata. The multidisciplinary artist merges his sonic and visual realms to create a confused reality. Using basic technology, the two pieces create impressive optical illusions through the use of stroboscopes, speed variations, movement inversions and light decomposition. In a short interview, we discussed his artistic process. 

What does electronic music bring to your pieces?

I make music for my own performances because I am not looking for melodic sounds. I want abstract sounds that I can use as physical stimulation and for me, electronic sounds work better in that sense. Generally speaking, I think electronic music is a strong physical stimulation. The dance culture is very different in Japan as clubs are forbidden, it doesn’t stop people from making music, but for the audience, sadly, it’s a different appreciation of the music.

Could you describe what your ‘Kinetic Force Method‘ is?

I would describe it as a system. It’s not a dance technique or a style, it’s a method that shows how to stand or walk and how the natural forces work in the body. It would be more a passive way of dancing. I don’t try to control anything in my body, but rather I try to enjoy it’s natural movements. It works mainly with the three gravity points; the hips, the chest and the feet. Once you are aware of the balance working in between those three points, you can move in any way you want. All the movements works in reaction to the balance between these three points. With this system, I’m trying to find the basis of any movement, common to any type of dance.

What does the human gesture bring to digital arts?

I would see it the other way around. For me technology brought a lot to our gestures. Sharp and fast movements, etc. It brought a new aesthetic to the way we move. I see anything that is digital as non-continuous, by opposition to the analog technology constituted of a continuous flow. The human body doesn’t have this discontinuous sense, the digital culture brought us a new way of perceiving things and new kind of movements that we weren’t aware of before the apparition of digital technology.

What is the limit of digital arts?

I haven’t seen it yet! (laughs) Technology forces us to have control over everything up to the tiny details. It brings us a perception of details and within the arts it enables us to have access to those details and to be able to control the microscopic. For now machines don’t have this sense of sensibility that humans have, but we can’t be certain that it will never happen in the future. That is why I think many artists and scientists are working on reproducing nature with digital technology. Everything is evolving so fast, right now I cannot say where will be the limit, we haven’t come to it yet.

You seem to believe that all humans, moreover all things on Earth, are constituted of the same energy or material, could you develop on this idea?

When you break down everything on the planet whether it’s our body, a chair or desk, you find out that we are constituted of the same cells. What makes the differences between things is the energy and this is what I try to create. Dance makes movements which create energy and then the energy makes a shape.

Would you describe the sensations provoked by art as primitive?

I try to go back to primitive sensations. I cannot say for sure if they really are, but that is what I try to do. I think primitive sensations like physical desire or hunger are more honest. If we go back to the primitive needs, it constitutes a stronger basis and on this solid basis you can open up to more complex things.

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