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ICC Collection

“Installation OR” [1997]

dumb type

“Installation OR”


Four long slabs of glass are laid on a white carpet, Video images of men and women are projected onto surfaces of the glass. The glass and the carpet warp the images. As a result, there are immaterial images and material sounds. The images of lying men and women will metamorphose when sensors detect the visitor. The work is a meditation on the “grey humour” overhanging the space between life and death.



Related Information

Artists’ Statement

new work (no title)
Explaining the issue around the border of life and death.
And how technology is involved in to distinct this border now.
Idea came up from my experiences in the hospital when my mother (cancer) died in August, and my brother (traffic accident), my lover (AIDS) in the past.
How much the science can control this border.
How much our mind can control this border.
This is the border which all the humans have to confront some day.

teiji furuhashi oct. 1995

“OR” is a “grey humour” reflection on the zones between life and death.

Is death unknowable? Does it transcend experience? Is it visible only to the clinical eye of medical science? Or will technology change all that...?
The promise of control, The promise of choice, The promise of parallel para-experience, As the human quest for knowledge/power fast approaches the limits of the tangible “real” what becomes of the instability of “real time” living? Does our denial of uncertainty mirror ever closer to deathlike inevitability?

OR Installation
Four body-length “laboratory slides” are laid out on a sterile white carpet, each “slab” consisting of two glass plates sandwiching an LCD film that switches ON/OFF between semi-opaque and transparent.

The glass and carpet serve to distress the projected images, and to obstruct/reflect/absorb sound.

Four flat image-display sites as planar pools, presence without depth.

These, in turn, placed in grid formation as scanning/sorting “beds” in a hypothetical holding area, a zone of watched manifestation.

Unto these surfaces are mapped video transforms of seven men and women, multiple possibilities which at the point of projection are made singularly “real” while the remaining visions are stripped away as impossible unrealities. The computer-controlled laser disc system implicitly renders forth only one sample out of many.

In contrast to the non-materiality of the visuals, the invisible non-directionality of sound shapes an unobtrusive aural ambience. Visitors are free to walk around in the room yet “outside” the sound, until hidden sensors detect their intervening movements, and arouse slight shifts in the planar foci, disturbances in the projected images, displacements in the audio...

(dumb type)

On the Artists’ Works

Since its formation in 1984, dumb type has worked directly and ironically toward a broadening of the possibilities for artistic expression. Derived from the diversity of its members and from the different media the group uses, dumb type’s aesthetic has acted as a refined, astute sensor in the realization of the group’s projects. The technique of “work-in-progress” has been constant in each work, with the members traversing in any number of forms the variety of media humans have created. Directly addressing the synthesized medium of “the body,” the members have worked to express the “invisible communication” called love.

The first performance of “Pleasure Life” in 1988 marks the particular coherence of subject and form that characterize dumb type’s works to the present day. This performance, which suggested that nothing can be achieved unless relayed through media, staged a cross-section of life representative of current culture and engaged the role of such things as media, information, the body, and order. In doing so, it became the theoretical basis for the group’s future projects. Subsequently, the 1990 performance of “pH” offered a cynical simulation of 1980’s post-consumer society. Controlled by a computer, a giant truss swung across the stage in regular cycles. Its position repeatedly threatened the performers’ bodies, forcing the audience to confront the fact that technology is not necessarily beneficial for human beings. “pH” was a multimedia project employing installation, video, and printed matter.

Then, in 1992, FURUHASHI Teiji, a central figure within dumb type, announced his HIV positive status to the group and dumb type’s works took on a new approach. Up to that point, dumb type had already been actively operating as an “art center” for new ideas: as an information resource, by providing artists with support, offering seminars and workshop programs, and also running a salon-type café. But with FURUHASHI’s announcement the group began an aggressive campaign aimed at general society and took up such questions as AIDS and homosexuality. With their 1993 experimental “S/N Seminar Show” they committed themselves to this direction. “S/N” was a multimedia project that was decidedly multiply structured. Attacking the predetermined categories of gender, homosexuality, race, nationality—in other words, forced identities—they engaged these issues with irony and humor. The project, which was developed through the use of numerous media—namely performance, installation, books, compact discs, and the Internet—raised awareness concerning so-called “minorities,” ready-made identities, and the consciousness and social actions surrounding these issues.

In October 1995, FURUHASHI passed away while performing in Brazil. Yet, before his death in 1994 a new project, “OR,” had begun to take shape. In what ways will it engage the new forms of communication and transcended borders portrayed in “S/N?” dumb type always questions: “Is art possible?” And their projects are appropriately therefore “works-in-progress.”



conception: dumb type
visual direction: TAKATANI Shiro
sound: IKEDA Ryoji
compiler: TOMARI Hiromasa
subject: ISHIBASHI Kenjiro, OUCHI Seiko, KAWAGUCHI Takao, SUNAYAMA Noriko, TAKAMINE Tadasu, TANAKA Mayumi, YABUUCHI Misako, Alfred BIRNBAUM

List of Works