Tickets for 20 and 21 Sep performances are sold out and only wheelchair seats are available. Unsold or unreserved wheelchair seat tickets will be released for sale to the general public as normal tickets from 10 a.m. onwards at the box office of Kwai Tsing Theatre on the day of each performance. First-come-first-served while stocks lasts.
Limited tickets are available for 22 Sep performance. Thank you for your support!
A multimedia staging unfolding time and space
‘Everything is done with precision. It does surprise, and occasionally delight.’
ST/LL is a multimedia production created by Japan’s avant-garde contemporary artist Shiro Takatani, a founding member of artist collective Dumb Type. It is a visual spectacle exploring the notion of time and space. The stage is like a mirror to exhibit the reflection of massive projections and movement of actors, where audiences are transported to a hypnotic stage. The music and sound effects are created by the esteemed composer and Oscar winner Ryuichi Sakamoto, together with Marihiko Hara and Takuya Minami. Japanese actress Mayu Tsuruta, a nominee for the Best Supporting Actress in the Japan Academy Film Prize, also participates in the performance. The programme was premiered in France in 2015 and was then taken on tour to Belgium, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.
The programme contains some Japanese and English
Meet-the-artist session (In Japanese and Cantonese) after 20/9 performance
The running time of each performance is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes without intermission.
Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers and audiences who leave during the performance will only be admitted at a suitable break.
'Beyond Multi-arts' Series: ST/LL by Shiro Takatani (Japan)
Shiro Takatani studied environmental design at Kyoto City University of Arts. As a visual artist and theater director, he works diversely with photography, video, lighting, graphics and set design, and uses high-technology in his creations. He is a founding member of artist collective Dumb Type, which was established in 1984. Besides Dumb Type, Takatani began a parallel solo career in 1998, in which he has directed visuals for various theatre productions. His own performances La chambre claire, CHROMA and ST/LL were well received internationally. His first retrospective solo exhibition, Camera Lucida, was held at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum in 2013. He also worked in collaboration with diverse artists. In 2017, the remarkable collaboration with Fujiko Nakaya, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Min Tanaka for fog and cloud sculptures was presented at Tate Modern, London and The New National Museum, Oslo. Takatani received the Japan’s 65th Prize of Fine Arts (Media Art) in 2015 and the Kyoto Prefecture Cultural Award in 2019.
Director: Shiro Takatani
Cast: Yuko Hirai, Mayu Tsuruta, Misako Yabuuchi, Olivier Balzarini
Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Marihiko Hara, Takuya Minami
Lighting design: Yukiko Yoshimoto
Media creation and computer programming: Ken Furudate
Script: Alfred Birnbaum
Stage Manager: Nobuaki Oshika
Technical Director: So Ozaki
Sound Technician: Satoshi Hama
Computer programming: Ryo Shiraki
Lighting Technician: Kazuya Yoshida
Company Manager: Yoko Takatani / Dumb Type
Song: 60 cradles - rehotne sinta (voice: Yoko Kawakami)
© The Foundation for Ainu Culture
Production: Dumb Type
Co-production: Le Volcan – Scène Nationale du Havre, Biwako Hall - Center for the Performing Arts Shiga, Japan, Fondazione Campania dei Festival – Napoli Teatro Festival Italia
Production Touring: EPIDEMIC
ST/LL: A Visual Feast of Time and Space, Movements and Stillness
Text: Daisy Chu
On the stark stage is a long table assembled from several shorter black wooden tables, along with three plastic chairs. The table is set with several place settings of Western tableware. The light on the screen upstage reflects the table and chairs onto the pool of water spread across the stage ─ this still-life-like setting is what the audience sees the moment they enter the theatre. Using time as the core of the performance, Shiro Takatani, director of ST/LL and founding member and Artistic Director of the cross-media art group Dumb Type, has created a dispassionate cross-media visual feast.
In addition to his creative works for Dumb Type, Takatani also produces personal visual art and theatre works. As he studied environmental design at the Kyoto City University of Arts, Takatani’s stage works have always displayed strong elements of the visual arts and unique concepts on spatial deployment. In 1999, he was invited by Ryuichi Sakamoto to design the visuals for the latter’s opera, LIFE. Since then the two have collaborated multiple times. The music of ST/LL also has Sakamoto on the creative team.
Time is like air, formless and soundless. Takatani’s staging of ST/LL is a space of boundless imagination where, by deploying movement or stillness, sounds, a water pool and the movement of a video camera, he keeps stirring the viewer’s imagination scene after scene, with perspectives and foci on this abstract thing called “Time”.
The “still life” stage opener that greets the audience lets them feel the frozen state of time and the massive space on stage. The video camera, coming down on the scene from above, captures then projects images onto the screen upstage in real time mode. The objects on the table seem to come to life as they are magnified. Continuous low-frequency sounds break the silence of the scene. As the images of the objects move in sync with the advancing lens, the audience can feel the formless time pushing forward; the spatial environment of the objects is also expanded accordingly. In a monochromatic world suddenly appears a bright red apple, creating a stark and surreal contrast that makes the audience visually jump out of the stillness of the space.
Without stillness, one does not see the changes brought about by movement. The stage, at first barren of a single soul and with time standing still, is disturbed by the slow, silent entrance of the performers. The ripples triggered on the water make one see the intrusion of life on the still space as well as the fluidity of time. The different movements of the performers devised by Takatani represent the length and linearity of time, and lend a tangible feel to its existence. For the two performers sitting at the dining table, whether they sit side by side or face to face, movement and time are synchronised when they make the same movement using the same rhythm. Then when they move at different paces, the audience would be even more aware of the temporal existence through the varying motional speed. Each movement slices open the space, and as they proceed around the stage, dragging the tables and chairs, the sense of space is heightened.
While the gliding video camera points out the existence of time, it also creates an illusion which gives alternative perspectives for viewing space and feeling time. Magnified by the camera, the tableware and the dancers’ minute movements are presented in close-up, right in front of the audience’s eyes. They can interact with the performance outside of the stage’s typical horizontal orientation, or looking onto the stage from above. For example, when the dancers lie on the table and slowly move in a seemingly disorganised manner, the camera lens turn them into running or walking postures that the audience can now see. There are also interesting moments when the actions projected on the screen and the dancers’ actual movements are synchronised, and out of sync.
Space is an infinite visual extension, and music mirrors its vastness. The music composed by Sakamoto, Marihiko Hara and Takuya Minami starts with a low-frequency sound that resonates in the theatre, drawing the dimensions of space and the movement of time. The repetitive notes of the piano, the humming of birds, the minimalistic and peaceful music gradually change, unfolding the length of time. Through music and the various alternating or juxtaposed sounds, Takatani has constructed time and space that is audible to the audience.
There is a point when one of the performers reads out the first sentence of the script by Alfred Birnbaum: “‘Where’ always means ‘when’.” It becomes the point of departure from which the audience can appreciate the ingenuity of ST/LL, and how Takatani presents the close relationship between time and space.
Daisy Chu writes about dance and theatre for printed and online media in Hong Kong.
(Translated by KCL Lanuage Consultancy Limited)
ST/LL: Water of Wonder on Stage
Text: Dr Wong Chi-Chung
The time was May 2019; the place, the Singapore International Festival of Arts in the Esplanade. At the performance venue for ST/LL, the huge stage was covered in a thin pool of water. Several chairs and a long dining table stood in the water, and the table was set with tableware and glasses. What seemed to be something ordinary suddenly became surreal.
As the performers' physical movements began, so did various interactions among humans, objects, water and air. The performers shared the stage with a magical remote-control video camera and a huge screen. At times the show was like a documentary in the making, at other times like humans dancing with machines in the mist. Scenes representing the passing of life through the stillness, fluidity, time and space form a suite, colliding with the philosophies and myths about survival and existence.
The key composer for the background music was world-renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (respectfully addressed as 'Professor' here). A few days later, Professor gave his concert dis•play on the same stage of water. I joined some two hundred other fans to enjoy the performance from seats specially added to the stage, watching Professor up close─how he walked, contemplated and performed on water for the first time. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Shiro Takatani Χ Ryuichi Sakamoto
Multimedia legend Shiro Takatani is also a fan of Professor. In the sharing session in Singapore, he admitted how profoundly he was influenced by the electronic music of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Professor's band that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s and still performs off and on to this day. At the time, Professor was sitting next to me in the audience, and seemed to be a little embarrassed. He covered his face and gave me a shy smile.
Takatani recalled that he was euphoric back in 1999 when he was invited by his icon to collaborate on the opera LIFE. Since then, the two have collaborated frequently, and the levels and depths of their works have increasingly astounded audiences. Addressing issues like human history, peace, disasters and the environment, they have successfully combined different domains, such as humanity, the arts and technology, concepts that everybody can empathise with.
A multimedia opera, LIFE was a heavy indictment of the catastrophe of World War II. It was followed by a sequel, the installation and publication of LIFE - fluid, invisible, inaudible… (the book, in English and Japanese, was published in 2007; the DVD in 2008). Also, they staged the installation and performance of their water cloud mist series. The series travelled to different parts of the world, from a zen garden in Japan to famous art spaces in various part of the world, like the Tate Modern in London and the Emerald Necklace chain of parks in Boston.
With Kyoto as their home, Takatani and his wife have also supported as well as participated in the Kyotographie, Japan's international photography festival. The 2016 Kyotographie had "Circle of Life" as its theme, and Takatani and Sakamoto partnered up to create PLANKTON: A Drifting World at the Origin of Life as their tribute to PLANKTON by French photographer Christian Sardet. They transformed the plankton from Sardet's photographs into a beautiful and touching art installation and an inspirational contemplation on the origin of life. They also released a situational and experimental vinyl album of Professor's music with a style similar to that of ST/LL.
The long colourful strips that were part of the installation were later used on the cover of async (2017), an important album after Sakamoto's recovery from cancer. The two further developed the theme of the festival’s visual in a large interactive exhibition at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art (Watari-um), as well as in a DVD. The aesthetics and philosophy lay in the subtle relationship between time and space as captured by photographic exposure.
IS YOUR TIME (2017) was another installation that could move people to tears. In the documentary Coda, the resilient life forces as depicted by the piano referencing the '311 Tsunami' (the tsunami after the March 11, 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan) accompanied by the surrounding black-and-white images, turned the exhibition space at the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Shinjuku, Tokyo, into a shrine to remember the dead and reflect on nuclear power.
Let us return to the days when Professor first recognised Takatani's talent. It was in 1993 or 1994 that Professor first saw a performance of Dumb Type, the avant-garde artist collective of which Takatani is a core member.
"I was shocked… because I saw a dance performance with very new technology,” said Professor. “They combined artistic movements and concepts, philosophy and technology." His surprise reflected Takatani’s talent for not only deploying technology but also thinking about the philosophy and deeper meaning behind multimedia art.
Now, Takatani and Sakamoto are good friends and admire the same masters of the arts: John Cage, Nam June Paik and Andrei Tarkovsky, to name a few. For example, in their works, we can find traces from Tarkovsky's films as well as his books, such as Time Within Time and Sculpting in Time.
Both Takatani and Professor are also nature lovers. Professor once said in an interview, “We are deeply interested in the different states of water. Water can be clouds or fog, the sea, rivers, rain... it tells the relationship between the real world, nature and our art and technology, all correlated. I think that's a beautiful story about that.”
Since 2015, ST/LL has been performed in Le Havre, France; Naples, Italy; Taiwan; and Singapore. Finally, Hong Kong audiences can enjoy the collaborative work of Takatani, a world-class, prolific multimedia artist, and Sakamoto, a world-renowned composer, offer a cornucopia of artistic modes: stage, installation, video, interactivity, temporal and spatial art…
Shiro Takatani: Between Nature and Technology (2019), a documentary on Takatani by Italian 31-year-old filmmaker Giulio Boato, premiered earlier this year in Montreal; it will be screened in Hong Kong before ST/LL. Right at the beginning of the film, Takatani shares his love of nature and how it inspires his creative work. Also, he explains his conviction that artistic works should be open to the audience's interpretation. Surely, with ST/LL, both Takatani and Professor make miracles in the installation and the space on stage. The two excel in using new technology as well. Through their works, they explore the complex relationship between humans and nature, how to harness technology to avoid losing control and causing catastrophes!
Having known Takatani on a personal level, I find this tall and handsome artist a low key, gentle and modest person. One of his best childhood memories is of the 1970 Osaka World Expo. Ever since, he has been influenced by European artists and architects, such as Gaudi and Bauhaus. Born in Nara, Takatani studied arts at the Kyoto City University of Arts and has been living in Kyoto since graduation. In 1984, Takatani became a founding member of Dumb Type, the internationally renowned trans-genre art group, an anti-capitalism and anti-materialism collective with no hierarchy. The group is known to excel at integrating and reflecting on technology at the same time and also known as a pioneer that reflects on the bizarre phenomena of Japan's economic bubbles. Last year, the Centre Pompidou-Metz hosted a large-scale exhibition of Dumb Type in France; and MOT, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, will soon host "Dumb Type | ACTIONS + REFLXIONS"(16 Nov 2019 – 16 Feb 2020). It is a retrospective exhibition for the 35th anniversary of the artist collective.
Dr. Wong Chi-chung is currently the Head of the General Education of The University of Hong Kong and a guest DJ at Commercial Radio CR2/903. He has been working in the field of music, media, arts and education for over 30 years, and is also a curator and producer of various cross-cultural projects, such as David Bowie's Mandarin song and Ryuichi Sakamoto's async.
(Translated by KCL Language Consultancy Limited)
Some $200 seats may have partly restricted view
Meet-the-artist session (In Japanese and Cantonese) after 20/9 performance.
Tickets available from 5 July onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on internet, mobile app and credit card telephone booking.
Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first come, first served basis.
Group Booking Discount *
For each purchase of standard tickets for stage programme(s) in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:
10% off for 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.
‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series Package Discount*
For each purchase of standard tickets for different stage programmes in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:
10 % off for any 2 programmes; 15 % off for any 3 programmes; 20% off for 4 or more programmes.
*Not applicable to tickets for all lectures and workshops in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series.
Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers. Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.
One ticket per person regardless of age. Audience members aged 6 and above are welcome. Children under the age of 6 will not be admitted.
Internet Booking www.urbtix.hk
Mobile Ticketing App My URBTIX
Credit Card Telephone Booking 2111 5999
Ticketing Enquiries 3761 6661
Programme Enquiries 2268 7323
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.
The programme does not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Free Admission. Limited seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Exploring the Theatre Art of ST/LL and Shiro Takatani
Wong Chi-chung (Music Culture Specialist)
Shiro Takatani (Director of ST/LL)
Daisy Chu (Dance and Theatre Critic)
Conducted in Cantonese and Japanese
Organised and Coordinated by
Please reserve your seat by online registration.
Free Admission. Limited seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Premiered in the International Festival of Film on Art 2019 (FIFA) in Montreal
Director: Giulio Boato
Production: Idéale Audience
Conceived by award-winning Italian director Giulio Boato, this documentary film traces the three-decade artistic journey of Shiro Takatani in Europe and Japan.
Working closely with his collaborators, including composer Ryuichi Sakamoto,Takatani explores the origins of matter, from infinitesimal plankton to galaxies. He celebrates his relationship with art in his eclectic oeuvre which ranges from dance and theatre to installation. Nature and people are observed through technology, and there are interactions between performers with cameras and large screens.
In Japanese, French and English｜Subtitles in Chinese and English
The programme contains nudity scenes and stroboscopic effect.
Not suitable for children