April 4, 2011
With their salaryman suits and their palsied, uncanny synchronizations, the Japanese pop group World Order seem shaken loose from the very joints of the globo-urban infrastructure. And their dance vocabulary — with its robotic hand-jive, its centipeding slo-mos, and its uncanny intimacies — is the hieratic to our shuffling vernacular, a not-sauntering poised tautly between commuter stride and street dance.
World Order is fronted by Genki Sudo (b. 1978), a former mixed-martial-arts fighter and avowed Buddhist. As a fighter, Genki was flamboyant and performative; his entrance routines evoked hip-hop dance, the popeyed antics of manga antiheros, and the off-kilter mastery of drunken swordsmen from sixties samurai epics — a Revivalist schtick at once fey and deadly serious (it’s hard to be camp when someone is trying to choke you until you pass out). With World Order, Genki is rebooting global society. I particularly love how empty rooftops, loading zones, and industrial wastelands are transformed into stage-set versions of apocalyptic habitats. Routines taking place in public spaces, by contrast, are framed out-of-center, angular gyrations flashing while workers and travelers stream by; zombification becomes underwhelming spectacle. But the video, released in the wake of the recent earthquake, is also a call to ethical noticing, collectivism, and mutual aid.