Research Projects

Technology and Art

Project Leader

Abiko Shin

Born in 1951. Specializes in philosophy, and history of French thought. Graduated Kyoto University Graduate School. Editor and author of works including Mecanique et mystique, 2018, OLMS, Bergson Busshitsu to Kioku o Kaibou suru, 2016, Shoshi Shinsui, Bergson, le Japon, la catastrophe, 2013, PUF, Descartes wo Meguru Ronsen, 2013, Kyoto University Press 

Tokyo's achievements: listing real examples and deciding representative examples

Humans surround themselves with objects and nature. The step of making these work for practical usage is technology; an extension of this technology born when it is made to work transcending any practical application, like the rope markings - of no practical use themselves - on pottery, is art. The term art can be used widely to indicate technology and the arts. Cities are the birthplace of this type of art. In particular, since the modern era, modern cities have sprung up in the West under the lead of modern scientific technology and its encounter with thorough quantification and rationalization of objects and nature. The art that has flourished in modern cities can also be described as part of that flow (Cubism, Futurism, Abstract, Structuralism, Functionalism). Concerning space, this is an organic whole where the various pieces are put together inseparably; that is, it excludes nature. Concerning time, a memory that is never evidently incorporated into forward-looking planning; that is, it shuns history. In other words, quality is removed. Although sometimes delivered as criticism of this kind of modernism, Ultra-modernism (Post Modernism, Deconstructionism) too is preoccupied with avoiding the absurdity of restoring nature and history anachronically (which is indeed absurd), but does not succeed in reviving nature and history within its advances and generation. 

This is how modern Western art stands. That same Western art was studied and introduced extremely faithfully to Tokyo from Meiji onwards. Without being a deliberate intention, however, but due to a natural resilience, Tokyo trained Western art so as to achieve a unique coexistence between it and its own that is unseen elsewhere, and that continues today. Investigating and confirming Tokyo's uniqueness in relation to its art, both historically and within the numerous examples today, is the aim of research here. As a comparison we might say that while Londinium no longer exists as part of London, Tokyo is Edo-Tokyo and not simply Tokyo. History has not been forgotten. Most of the great cities of the world have consisted only of warrior and merchant classes from the "warrior, farmer, artisan, merchant" hierarchy, yet Tokyo is essentially a water city, where even today "warriors, farmers, artisans and merchants" coexist. Nature has not been excluded. This nature and history, however, is not backward-looking and anachronically stopped in time, but breathes within generation and change (the "metabolism"). History and nature does not point to museums and memorial parks, but can actually be discovered in the newest of Tokyo streets. Art is what supports the metabolism. Not Western art per se, but "Tokyo art" of a type not found anywhere else. The aim of this research is to close in upon the complete image of Tokyo art.