José Maceda – the Filipino composer’s name is emblazoned on t-shirts worn by 100 participants, mostly young volunteers, moving purposefully though an enclosed public space. The dimly lit atrium of Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) has been decorated with stretched fabric, taut and brightly coloured or gauzy and translucent; touches that soften, while also reconfiguring that capacious entrance hall, helping to transform it into an atmospheric arena for performance. Beyond the tall building’s glass frontage a stream of urban traffic flows silently through the chilly Yokohama night.
The movements of the crowd within the atrium are closely coordinated, as though choreographed in observation of some arcane ritual. For half an hour they mill around, dance on the spot, climb stairs, hold stand-offs, ride an escalator, scamper on all fours, pause in smaller groups, tread stealthily, form a snake-like chain. Non-participants watch and listen, at liberty to alter their perspective, or simply to wander through the space, mingling with the performers. Some use their phones to capture what’s happening.
Each participant carries a playback device, an mp3 player or tape machine; some carry both. Arms are raised and waved to modify the character of the sound being broadcast. It fills the air and floods the ear. Performers’ postures change, as they seek to reach, for themselves, higher levels of attentiveness or greater intensity of experience. This event opens with a countdown and has a regimented appearance, yet individual performers are clearly caught up in an exploratory process. This is a collective activity that doesn’t exclude opportunities to make personal discoveries.