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> > > Short Circuit: Digital Arts Project at the Lighthouse

Short Circuit was an action research intensive funded by Arts Council, South East that has been breathing life into a number of digital projects using disabled artistry for the last two years. Review by Colin Hambrook

still image of dancer Chisato Minamimura set against the digital backdrop of visual images created through movement

Chisato Minamimura SoundMoves

Focusing on two of the original ShortCircuit artists: Chisato Minamimura and Jon Adams, the Lighthouse, Brighton played host to the artists discussing their work alongside an evening of films giving a glimpse into what happens when disability and digital collide.

Born from the concept of taking a path of least resistance Short Circuit has been about lives lived in a state of creative tension between perceptions, access and barriers: it is about the different perspectives that disabled people can bring to the arts.

Chisato Minamimura is a professional conceptual dance choreographer, dance artist and BSL art presenter having taught in 40 locations across 20 countries. At the foundation of her work are ideas about movement, culture and digital space. So an initial enquiry of her SoundMoves project was how do deaf people perceive sound? Sound has a vibration, which digital process can digitise into a visual response to movement.

Bringing an added cultural layer to the project Chisato looked at how to bring in FOUR Japanese Kanji pictograms representing elements Fire, Earth, Water and Wind. So, she looked at getting her dancers to think about their relationship to the elements and working with digital animator Dave Packer and digital Sound Artist & Coder Wesley Goatley from the University of Brighton to create a series of visual representations that render the elements, teasing colour from vibration.

The stunning results combining dance and technology allowed the dancers to manipulate the digital colour and patterns that emerged out of the choreography. At the foundation of the ideas behind the project is the intent to depict the rhythm and the musicality of silence: silence is the canvas on which the dancers impose sound and vibration through movement with wonderful visual repercussions. In explaining this Wesley cited John Cage and his piece 4’33” (4 minutes, 33 seconds) as a starting point for his understanding of Chisato’s intentions.

At the event we were also treated to another application of SoundMoves, working with learning disabled people as part of the SprungDigi festival in Horsham. It was clear from the film of the event how much enjoyment was taken from the energetic patterns produced through dance. As one commentator said: “It’s like when you see a ghost coming from behind you. It copies every move and follows you. And if you make a slam it will flash and glow into different colours.”

I look forward to the SoundMoves films being made public soon. In the meantime Chisato and Sarah Pickthall from Short Circuit are travelling to Japan to showcase the work and foster this unique set of starting points for a cultural exchange.

For more information about Chisato's work please click on this link to visit her website