|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2007)|
Founded in 1984, the artist collective Dumb Type is based in Kyoto, Japan.
Members are trained in varied disciplines, including visual arts, theatre, dance, architecture, music composition and computer programming. Their work ranges across such diverse media as art exhibitions, performances, audiovisuals and publications.
Dumb Type is known for portraying a dark, cynical, and humorous world in which technology is a way of life—if not necessarily a welcome one. In a 1990 interview in High Performance, the late Teiji Furuhashi, one of Dumb Type's founding members, described their work as political in nature. "Something Japanese theater never does. Japanese audiences don't want to see that. They want to avoid it. They just want entertainment. Yes, I think we should always have a political view. We should represent that this is Japan." Notable in a country plagued by political apathy, the group has played the unpopular role of AIDS activist, organizing symposia and other events, motivated in part by the fact that Furuhashi died of AIDS in 1995.
While based in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, Dumb Type is oriented more to the global than the local, the contemporary over the traditional. Dumb Type members claim that Japanese art movements have had little influence on their work. Furuhashi explained that the core group—Furuhashi, Toru Koyamada, Yukihiro Hozumi, Shiro Takatani, Takayuki Fujimoto and Hiromasa Tomari—began working together in 1982, while still students at Kyoto University of Art and Design. "We were frustrated artists, and wanted to start creating something new with our skills. Most of the time we spent discussing society or whatever, not specific art things. When someone had an idea it would be presented on a piece of paper. If the group was interested, we made it come true. At first the idea would be really open, then gradually it became something very specific. In that way, we're really democratic. Dumb Type is a collaborative group; we don't want a king."
Their work has been exhibited and performed at notable venues internationally.
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