encounterBLOG 21 November, Wednesday

movement A: premiere of ‘dance in audio-visual environment’ by Ulf Langheinrich, with Toshiko Oiwa (dance), Dirk Langheinrich (software), Mayu SaSajima (costume). Festpielhaus Hellerau.

CYNETart_07encounter »Movement A«

as the audience walks into the hall and heads for the raked platforms on either side of the “dancefloor,” a pleasant disco sound embraces us. down on the dancefloor, a platin blonde Asian lady in a white fur coat gently sways to the sound, her fingers flickering, along with the cozy rhythms. later, a Japanese pop song starts up, we see the blonde dancer smile and mimic singing the song, she is enjoying herself, she is in love with herself, and karaoke-wise everything is going well tonight.

then the sound changes. Langheinrich’s composition of densely layered granular sonic noise starts a long, slowly evolving journey into the heart of something, i don’t know what to call it yet. oiwa’s movement continues as if she was on the dance floor still, except that her arm movements grow wider, her undulating body under the fur coat creating sense of restless motion energy, then one arm flails like a bird’s broken wing, the other hand clutches the heart. after three or four more minutes, she suddenly stops. on the edge of the large white rectangle that stretches endlessly across the hall, she drops the blonde whig and the white furcoat, she sheds the skins, and from now on, the darker side of this performance takes its relentless course. (for video excerpt, click here).

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the light had already switched suddenly from grey-white to dark red. in our minds, we have already entered something dangerous, fire-burnt, stark and more desolate. oiwa now appears a very different person, her thin muscular body draws attention to bone and marrow, to a hectic pulsing organism, skeleton anatomy in disarray, twitching flickering limbs flying in various directions. oiwa’s body moves into a longer hyperextended series of torsions and self-deformations. the movement is painful to watch, exhilarating, it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

white grey red. dark red and white. there are subtle, occasional changes of the general light conditions in which we see.

oiwa’s twitching grows in intensity, her whole body – limb after limb, shoulders, chest, pelvis, thighs, foot, elbows, wrists, fingers, eyes – is affected, a strangely beautiful and haunting epilepsy of the cellular body, millions and billions of cells in senseless (?) permanent active motion, movements within movements, meandering and centrifugal, a constant dispersion of movement energies that feed the body-organism. we see oiwa as she tumbles from her earlier vertical position to the horizontal….. she now twitches and itches on the ground and seems moved by some invisible force, she slides or is slided, her nervous physical ecstasy enhancing her presence as a singular organism in a vast field of light/heat.

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gradually, as we look at the body in the heat, we begin to become more aware of the fields having their own presence, their life……the four identical light-projction fields (illuminated by 4 video projectors and the additional lighting instruments) slowly establish their reality after 30 or 35 minutes, and from that point on, they become unmistakable material entities, the squares which create the long corridor of light begin to boil, thousands and thousands of small piexl bubbles appear, blurred animated cellular pebbles, in constant pulsating rhythms of motion underneath oiwa’s twitching body. a macrocosm of infestation and crawling electronic maggots spreads out, often dipped into an unearthly red, and oscillating its colors again, white, grey, pink red, grey, blue-ish white, pink, red…

oiwa’s continuous dilation of her limbs and extremities, breathing stomach and chest cavities, face, mouth, nostril, suddenly come to a halt, then continues, now we begin to see freeze-frames, pauses, as if her body were able to pause the hectic restless vibrations or electrical charges that run through it. her pausing draws our attention to the media surface on which she performs, the pulsating light-floor which has its own contiunous motion-textures. oiwa’s body now appears to float on top of an ocean, underneath the surface, above.

the last section of the work is indescribable. gradually, the ocean of light pixels, together with the pulsating sonic stream that grows heavier and heavier, takes over the entire space of the Festspielhaus. an awareness of a total moving sonic light-space penetrates one’s brain and nervous system. Langheinrich is working with color fields (Ganzfelder), transforming the performance space into Barnett Newman-Pollocks of unbelievable, grainy color blotches, dancing particles which corrode and gradually overwhelm the dancer. near the end, oiwa has become motionless, she lies without breathing in midst of an ocean of dancing light, now enforced in its virulent power by numerous red and white strobe lights which cut seeringly into your brain. i am nearly unable to watch now, when i try to glimpse the dancer, i notice her body lies crucified in the center, arms outstretched as if a martyred figure on a baroque altar, her torso bent upwards, head backwards, mouth wide open, the fish position (in Yoga and Tantric practice) which in fact expands the body outward to receive light and air, the sonic light-field droning and flickering underneath her, above her, burying her in an electric storm.


her tensed still presence is heightened by a totally active environment which creates perceptual havoc with our senses, maximal digital/electrical motion combined with minimal breath, a human body inhaling, a human body expiring on the tectonic plates of an immense driftwork.

there is a long silence when it all ends.

we leave the hall, exhausted.

johannes birringer

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