PuSh Festival: Hiroaki Umeda elevates hip-hop, cyberculture to high art

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      If you take elements of hip-hop and tech culture, distill them, and infuse them with meditative underpinnings for the realm of fine art, you might get an idea of what the work of Tokyo-based multidisciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda is like.

      Umeda, who started dancing at age 20 and founded his company S20 in 2000, fuses street dance, ballet, and butoh influences in arresting performances that integrate innovative lighting design and computerized soundscapes, all of which he creates himself.

      Vancouverites will get a chance to watch Umeda performing two solo pieces, Haptic and Holistic Strata, at this year's PuSh Festival from January 25 to 27. 

      To get a better idea of his work, here's a clip of Umeda performing Haptic.

      In sharp contrast to the striking use of colour saturation in Haptic, the monochromatic Holistic Strata utilizes a projection of white dots (which sometimes form abstract or jagged shapes) against a black background. The white particles are evocative of anything from a blizzard of snow to a galaxy of stars.


      The following video captures Umeda performing in front of visually striking, minimalist digital imagery.

      Umeda's repetitive movements and minimal use of stage space places emphasis on the importance of the lighting design.

      For comparison, the video below shows Umeda performing in daylight, without the use of lighting design. In this case, quick edits provide visual dynamism.  

      For those interested in learning more about Umeda from the man himself, he will be participating in a post-show talkback session after the January 26 performance.