Fri 12-03-2004 : De Morgen

Closer gets under your skin To listen to your body with your eyes With closer the Deep Blue collective presents something the title was promising: it gets under your skin, but the closer you get to your own body, the more it transforms into a strange object. The image of the body doesn't get any clearer, no matter how well you are listening. At the end of last year the Nobel prize was awarded to the scientists who developed the MRI technique in the seventies. This technique allows us to visualise organs and tissue by employing a magnetic field and radio waves. The importance of medical representation has infected the collective imagination massively, mainly through popular culture and massmedia. Many tv programs on pregnancy or even the age-old fascination of anatomy are centered on the desire to acquire a more thorough analysis of the physical inner life. Also on the desire for a transparant body, one that you can learn to know and manipulate. About this body spectacle a lot of critical art has been made, often with a strong ethical impact. As the title Closer indicates, Deep Blue is more interested in movement and sound on a micro-level. Not only does the company deliver a brilliant piece of work, taking a closer look at bodies apparently also renders them more alien than we ever would like to admit they are. Every spectator receives wireless headphones and can walk freely in an environment. Scenographer Shizuka Hariu created a surprising space with a screen of vertically suspended bamboo sticks. On this screen Arne Lievens projects bright strings of light, bright red, fuchsia, turquase. Meanwhile the minimal sound design of Christoph De Boeck crackles, hums and buzzes in your ears. All of those elements contribute to an alienating sense of intimacy, in which you can start finding a spot for yourself, slowly. Only after some time the dancers-choreographers Heine R. Avdal and Yukiko Shinozaki, known by their past in Damaged Good, mix themselves with the spectators. As if tiny packets of energy are transmitted through their bodies, a hand or a foot is tingling, or a chest is moving up and down restlessly, agitated. They hardly move any more than that, their attitude is closed and distant, despite their physical proximity. Suddenly you realise they do not even share the same audiospace with you as a spectator. Do we spectators dispose over more knowledge about their bodies, through sound, than they themselves? Did we now turn into researchers? Does the audience still consist of a group, now that everyone operates from within its own sonic space? Although the visual space is still shared among us, our loneliness appears to us lifesize: in our world of experience we are fundamentally lonely, just like any other human spirit is lonely with respect to the other, the world, the body. What is a closer look able to do against this loneliness? The movement material is blown up, with the traveling packet of energy as a principle of this movement. A strange gesture transports itself through the whole body, to another body or through space according to a most idiosyncratic logic. Highly fascinating, while it all remains alien. The dominance of the eye is questioned in a most interesting fashion, just like 'medical representation' holds a paradox: does the measurement of blood values lead to a precise íimage'? In Closer there are senses unknown to us which deliver us the proximity so much sought after, in which blindness turns into a futuristic imagination. The fiction of the transparant body disappears somewhere in between. Jeroen Peeters