In Conversation with Ochiai Yōichi: Sustainable Media Art & the Legacy of Minakata Kumagusu
Ochiai Yōichi is a visionary Japanese media artist whose creative and research work presents and explores the concept of ‘digital nature’ a new environment created through the fusion of the physical and digital worlds.
For this special talk event for Japan House London held as part of the Japan Cultural Envoy programme of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, Ochiai explores the relationship between mingei (Japanese folk crafts) and the media arts by tracing the footsteps of Minakata Kumagusu (1867 – 1941), a Japanese author, biologist, naturalist and ethnologist who lived in the UK for his studies in the late 19th century.
While Minakata Kumagusu is perhaps most famous as a researcher of slime moulds, he was also intensely interested in folklore and religion. His studies on these topics, fusing ecological and Buddhist worldviews, and perhaps influenced by his time spent in the UK, have made a great contribution to a number of fields of modern Japanese thought including folklore studies and anthropology.
During this event, Ochiai unravels the influence of the ideas of Minakata Kumagusu and his contemporaries on the arts and considers new possibilities for a sustainable society.
Following his talk, Ochiai Yōichi will be joined in conversation by Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures) to deepen the discussion on sustainable media art by re-exploring points of connection between 'the West' and 'the East' and new views of nature in the digital age.
There is an opportunity for guests to ask questions to the speaker during this live online event.
About the Speakers
Born in 1987, Ochiai received his PhD in Applied Computer Science from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information. He is Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba where he is also Head of the Centre for Digital Nature. He is Principal Investigator for the JST CREST xDiversity project, has received Super Creator / Genius Programmer titles from the Information-Technology Promotion Agency, Japan and is president of Pixie Dust Technologies.
Ochiai has received numerous awards, including a World Technology Award in 2015, the Prix Ars Electronica 2016, a 2019 SXSW Creative Experience ‘ARROW’ Award, MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Japan and more. His work explores the intersections between images and materials, nature and computers, and freely crosses the boundaries of computer science, applied physics and media arts.
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, PhD, is the founding Director and currently the Research Director of the Sainsbury Institute and Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1998. She published Vessels of Influence: China and the Birth of Porcelain in Medieval and Modern Japan with Bloomsbury Academic in 2012 and translated Professor Tsuji Nobuo’s A History of Art in Japan with Tokyo University Press in 2018. She was until recently the IFAC Handa Curator of Japanese Art at the Department of Asia, British Museum, and was the lead curator there for the Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan exhibition in 2007 and the Citi Exhibition Manga held in the Sainsbury Exhibition Galleries, British Museum in 2019.