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Daito Manabe, the man who made the robots dance

The world musician and star of digital creation speaks in Pamplona about the frontiers between art and science

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Daito Manabe, the man who made the robots dance

Doing contemporary dance with robots and drones, converting sneakers into audio mixers, translating to music electrical signals of human body, creating gigantic interactive and virtual spectacles such as closing of Rio Games and To mount shows of musicians like Björk, Lang Lang or Ryuichi Sakamoto are some of daily occupations of Daito Manabe.

This composer, digital artist and Japanese DJ of 41 years lives in a strange world in which nothing becomes entirely science or anything is exactly art ... or maybe everything is both at same time in crazy technological-creative puzzle that proposes in ir interventions. And this may have to do with his double professional degree: Degree in dynamic sensory programming by International Academy of Media and Science and in exact sciences from University of Science of Tokyo. That, besides Picasso's unconditional lover, Éric Satie and Verdi.

"The essence of science is to solve problems." My activity, instead, is to pose problems through my creations. If I make art? I think I'm in an intermediate place between scientific and artistic, but I'm closer to artistic terrain, yes. Because art poses problems, like philosophy. And I do not want to solve puzzles ... I want to create puzzles, explained Daito Manabe on Tuesday during a conversation with this newspaper in Theatre of Museum of University of Navarra. There, and in presence of about 500 people who looked at him and listened between fascinated and stunned-among m, a majority of students- Japanese creator gave along with choreographer and Japanese dancer Mikiko a masterclass and projected some of his more Celebrated digital-Virtual creations.

With one of m, Phosphere, he attended last edition of Sonar Festival in Barcelona: a poetic, disturbing and delirious spectacle, in short. All this populated with synchronized mirrors, light bars, dancers, smoke machines, computers and algorithmic architectures at service of dance and music. A montage that, like most of those directed by Manabe, comes from Rhizomatiks factory, studio created by him and four or partners in 2006 in Tokyo. A horse montage between real and virtual, between what Spectator sees and what he believes to see.

Between opera and algorithm

Borja Hermoso

Daito Manabe, winner of a long rosary of awards at festivals of digital creation, collaborates with artists like composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, composer and conductor Andrea Battistoni (in opera Ollo of Verdi), Icelandic singer Björk ( He oversaw production of his live show Quicksand and Japanese pianist Lang Lang. Earlier this year, Manabe signed Assembly of Celestial Frequencies, an audiovisual work based on data and algorithms, in collaboration with National Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics Jodrell Bank Center of University of Manchester.

In anor of shows he projected and explained in Pamplona, 24 drones, presence of small flying machines along with five dancers was anor ingredient of show. "Demanding dancing machines is difficult," explained Manabe, "but we are perfecting a lot ... it is increasingly difficult to know wher this or that choreography has been created by a human being or a machine with a program." And soon re will come a day when it is impossible to know if author has been a man or a machine.

Where will it be, what sense will human presence have when scientists with artistic sensibility like Manabe get robots to move – or think-like man and woman? The Japanese star, guy who contest festivals and Congresses half world, meditates and prefers not to answer that. But he recognizes: "In field of dance it is more complicated, because machines at moment create artificial movements, which are seen to be artificial." "They have not yet managed to create movements that seem natural, but will come."

Daito Manabe arrived two days ago in Pamplona after 28 hours of travel from Japan, and after his master class at Museum of University of Navarra he was reassembled on plane to ... Shanghai. The leaders of MUN, in collaboration with Japan Foundation, invited him to count his cable crossing: a fantastic cable crossing between art and science; Between music, number and algorithm.


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