The Beauty of Time and Image: “ST/LL” at SIFA 2019

Seamlessly blending the digital image, live dance and a richly evocative music score, ST/LL is startlingly beautiful treat for the eyes and the ears. This production celebrates the performance collaboration of composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and visual and multimedia artist Shiro Takatani. (Sakamoto’s concert Fragments, with visuals by Takatani, is already sold out.)

Here are four reasons to catch ST/LL at the Singapore International Festival of Arts this year.


Photo by LeHavre


  1. Seamless Illusion

At times it feels as if you have stepped into a live world of one of Rene Magritte’s surrealist paintings – at others, a three dimensional world of a Japanese science fiction animation. ST/LL offers a succession of beautiful, dreamlike scenes where screen projection meets the live dancing body, lighting and staging effects to create a world of total illusion. In the opening, dancers move almost in suspended motion across a reflective floor, which turns out to be a seamless pool of water – a rippling continuation of the projection screen panel in the centre of the stage. In several scenes the dancers are tracked live by a mobile camera, and their images projected larger than life above them to the effect of a fresco painting. Glasses, books and people fall in suspended motion, so that gravity, space and time seem to lose their boundaries.

  1. Luscious Soundtrack

The effect of image come to life is heightened with a music score created specially by Ryuichi Sakamoto in collaboration with composers Marihiko Hara and Takuya Minami. His brooding score that primarily features piano, strings and electronic sound reflect wistful emotion, steeping some images in delicious melancholy, and others in meditative peace or light playfulness. Sakamoto and Takatani have been longtime collaborators since Takatani created the visuals for Sakamoto’s opera LIFE in 1999. Together they experiment with the boundaries of their art forms, creating astonishing and unique performances and installations.


Photo by Yoshikazu Inoue


  1. Elegant Dancing

This is not ostensibly a choreographic work, but among the performers is dancer Yuko Hirai, who features in several beautiful dance solos embedded in the work. Standing in the water, her willowy figure and long limbs transform into an elegant crane as she flows and reaches through architectural lines.

  1. Capturing Film, Philosophy and Photography in a moment

Takatani is an extraordinary artist whose interests span philosophy, art film and photography.

He is a founding member of the iconic Kyoto-based art collective Dumb Type, which brought together visual artists, video artists, choreographers and performers, as well as architects, graphic designers, sound engineers and computer scientists to create groundbreaking multidisciplinary and multimedia performance in the 1980s and 1990s. Takatani trained in visual arts and environmental design, but with Dumb Type soon became the wizard of visual and technical effects. Takatani makes work for the gallery as well as the stage, with a distinct interest in photography and philosophical questions about perception. His past work La Chambre Claire (2008) was inspired by Roland Barthes’ theory of photography. ST/LL is his tribute to Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, referencing stunning images of a water-filled world. ST/LL also takes up Tarkovsky’s questions about image and time, and gives us a refreshing and gorgeous voyage into another world.



ST/LL by Shiro Takatani, Dumb Type runs 24 May & 25 May, 8pm, at Esplanade Theatre, as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts. Tickets at $40, $60, $80.

This post is sponsored by Arts House Limited.

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