The second iteration of Tokyo Tech’s Hybrid Innovation Programme for Industry (HI) culminated with the HI 2022 Symposium on 14th April at Mishima Hall, Ookayama Campus. The in-person event featured presentations on the results of HI Practice undertaken by four groups of participating members, as well as talks by guest lecturers and a certificate awarding ceremony.
The public event was attended by participants of the programme, colleagues from participating companies, the HI organisers, other Tokyo Tech’s academics and students of the Nohara Lab. HI assistant director Kohei Kanomata acted as MC for the day, whilst HI director Prof. Kayoko Nohara welcomed the attendees with a talk about the philosophy and key pillars of the programme.
Assistant Professor Xinru Zhu, a typeface researcher, and Professor Shinya Hanaoka, an expert in traffic engineering, gave guest lectures on how innovation can be created by changing perspectives in their different fields of expertise.
A temporary exhibition was set up in the lecture theatre to showcase models and artworks representing the results of the HI Practice, a project designed to coalesce theories and exercises experienced during the 10 HI sessions into specific speculative proposals, with the aim to provide a practical context for familiarising with the takeaways from the programme. They worked in groups over several sessions, using pre-prepared themes and fictitious company profiles to shape their ideas for new innovations. This year, the participants were asked to respond to the theme of “plastics in 2035”, representing both a potential challenge (i.e. phasing out the use of single use plastics) and design opportunities (i.e. new sustainable materials and uses, bioplastics, etc.). Each group chose to act out a specific company profile out of 12 provided by the organisers, and an SDG that their company should aspire to achieve by 2035. This created clearly-defined constraints to stimulate precise solutions towards achieving each group’s self-determined goals, outlined below.
Group 1 used a farmhouse in Nagano Prefecture and centred on a system whereby local farmers jointly recycle and reuse agricultural plastic materials. A business model was created to protect the abundance of land by creating a circulation system for the materials and the local community through face-to-face dialogue.
Group 2 used an urban café farm made from recyclable materials, designed a container made from bioplastic to feed animals, and proposed to create a place to highlight environmental issues to the local community through the café.
Group 3 designed a project to foster the wellbeing of nursing home residents and the local community, using blockchain technology to place memories on recycled products, achieving both an intergenerational dialogue and an approach to the environment.
Group 4 proposed a new form of education by launching Real e-sports, which primary schools students can easily participate in, providing independent learning opportunities that value students’ curiosity. By combining online games and 3D printers, it became an unprecedented educational content through games.
The proposals’ high levels of reflection and hybridity were indicative of the HI approach, certainly inspired by the numerous activities and conversations we held over the year at Tokyo Tech. The value of such an approach was mentioned by many attendees and highlighted in Dr Betti Marenko’s recorded speech, in which she congratulated the groups on their achievement.
“A transdisciplinary structure where experimentation and playfulness are enabled by design.”
Dr Betti Marenko, CSM, University of the Arts London (UK) and WRH Specially-appointed Professor at Tokyo Tech
The HI 2022 cohort were then awarded a certificate by Prof. Junichi Takada, who also addressed the audience with closing remarks. Discussion and networking continued around the exhibited artworks, with most also joining a social event afterwards. The HI 2022 participants are now Alumni of the programme and further activities will be organised as part of the HI 2023 calendar. Many congratulations to all!
“Spacelab_の会社訪問にて、コミュニティーデザインの方法を学んだ。デベロッパー案件以外のやり方で市民を中心に活動する際のリーダーシップのあり方など、日本とは異なるプロジェクトの作り方を学んだ。” HI 2022-23参加者
3日目は、キングスクロス駅北側に位置するセントラル・セント・マーティンズ美術大学（Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design）を訪問。GoogleやMetaのオフィスがある新地区を散策した後、CSMの国際パートナーシップ責任者であるJosef Wheeler博士による温かい歓迎を受けました。一行は東工大の原正彦教授やCSMの研究者たちと合流し、まずは大学のおしゃれな食堂でコーヒーを飲みながらネットワーキング。その後Wheeler博士が施設を案内、建物の建築デザインの背景や、大学で使用されている教育モデルとの関連性を説明していただきました。見学ツアーでは、ファッション・テキスタイル、セラミック、工業デザイン、版画、デジタルファブリケーションなど、主要なエリアを贅沢に見学することができました。彼らの持つ有名な図書館でも、図書館員に歓迎され「デザインと製造の現在のトレンドを表す、新しく革新的な材料」を所蔵する「材料と製品コレクション」を紹介していただきました。大学での昼食後は、CSMスタッフによる産業界とのコラボレーションの革新的アプローチに関するプレゼンテーションを聴講。また、元学生や在学生たちが、受賞したアート作品やデザインプロジェクトについて発表してくれました。デザインやイノベーションへのアプローチについて、つっこんだ質問をし議論する貴重な機会にもなりました。
“ワークショップではプロジェクトの進め方、リサーチ方法に哲学の要素が多用されていて、自分たちの会社でも利用できる可能性を感じた。” HI 2022-23参加者
午後は、MA Art and Science大学審コースのパスウェイリーダーであるHeather Barnnet氏と、CSMのScientist in Residenceとして滞在中の原正彦教授主導の実験活動に参加しました。科学者、アーティスト、技術者、その他のスタッフらとともに、大学内の生物学実験室”Grow Lab“にて実験。原教授によるショートレクチャーでは、現在の技術の限界を克服するために、計算に対する別のアプローチが必要であることが説明されました。単細胞生物である粘菌は、様々な数学的問題に対して興味深い解決策を示してくれています。「ベストな」解に到達しようとすると時間がかかるのですが、むしろ「平均より良い」くらいの解を生み出す能力は高い。こうした自然科学における「曖昧さ」や「不確実性」の概念は、東工大でのHIセッションでも紹介されているように原教授の研究の焦点となっています。参加者たちはシャーレに粘菌のために餌（ロールドオーツ）と障害物を置き、彼らが時間をかけて一定の方向に成長するパターンをデザイン。こうして粘菌類に向かって課題や問いを投げかけたあと、タイムラプス写真により、彼らの数日間の行動を記録する実験調査活動に参加しました。
“訪問先のクリエイティブ機関の活動全体が「結論に行き着くまでのプロセスの大切さ」を説いている印象を強く受けました。ビジネスにおいても、最終的な成果物だけを重要視するのではなく、限られた時間の中でもプロセスをより深く追求した仕事を行うべきであることを学びました。実りある素晴らしいツアーを企画してくださりありがとうございました。” HI 2022-23参加者
The Hybrid innovation programme for industry (HI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) consists of 10 workshop sessions in which participants experience a the integration of art, design, science and engineering methodologies for the promotion of innovative ideation processes and tools. The programme is run by Prof. Kayoko Nohara and includes contributions from guest lecturers from Tokyo Tech and Central Saint Martins college of art and design, University of the Arts London, UK. As part of an optional offer within the programme, a group of 5 participants joined creative director Dr Giorgio Salani and assistant director Kohei Kanomata in a tour of cultural institutions and innovation hubs in London, UK, which ended with a workshop day at CSM. The hosts accompanied the group in all activities, with Mr Kanomata providing Japanese translation throughout. The visit abroad provided further confirmation of the validity of the Hybrid Innovation approach and real cases of transdisciplinary innovation in action. Visits to museums, galleries and companies were accompanied by extensive discussions with professionals and within the group.
Visits to cultural hubs in London
The group was welcomed to the science museum by Jin Nirwal, Team Leader of Interactive Galleries, who gave an overview of the history of the galleries and their link to the Great Exhibition of 1851. This offered insights into the history of technology during the first industrial revolution and the role Britain (and Japan by contrast) played in the development of modern society. This was followed by a private tour of the Technicians exhibit in the David Sainsbury’s Gallery, a new space to help teenagers become technicians. Here, the group could experience various manufacturing and engineering processes in digital form, like a virtual welding machine, and complete a test to identify your future career as a technician by answering questions about interests and skills. The interaction with the exhibits produce memorable experience which informed comments and discussion in the group.
The Wellcome Galleries were next, where a museum guide introduced artworks related to medical science. The group discussed ‘Self-Conscious Gene’, a large bronze sculpture by Marc Quinn that – in addition to having a grand presence in the room – engages with issues around medical conditions, identity and self-awareness. This particular gallery was a perfect manifestation of the close historical link between art and science, not only hosting numerous artworks but also medical tools and models of great artistic beauty and greatly accomplished craftsmanship. After some time to freely roam around the galleries individually, the group moved to the Victoria & Albert museum nearby, where they had lunch in the oldest museum café’ in the world. Designs by William Morris and the British Arts & Crafts movement inspired conversations on Western history of art, its relationship with Japanese Mingei craft and the different aesthetic sensibility towards design and decoration (from ‘horror vacui’ to zen minimalism). The group then visited the museum individually and the guides helped identify artworks of personal preference within the collection. Pre-Raphaelites’ and John Constable’s paintings, the jewellery and ceramics galleries were particularly notable. The day continued with a historical tour of key architectural landmarks in the city centre.
The second day on site started with a visit to the permanent collection of the Design Museum, where the group engaged with the historical evolution of modern designs and reflected with the different narrative the museum offered when compared to Japanese cultural institutions.
“I learnt about the different ways of thinking about design from the exhibition methods I saw at the Design Museum, where the emphasis in Japan is on the product itself, whereas the emphasis is on the people who use it and the background to its design.” HI 2022-23 participant
After lunch in Kensington, the group moved to East London for a visit to SpaceLab, a company that self-identifies as an “exploratory architectural design studio that believes space unites us”. Creative Strategist First Sukpaiboon welcomed the team with a tour of the studio and a in-depth discussion of their approach, challenges and lessons learnt from collaborative projects in urban design. The intense Q&A covered ideas and models of innovation, difficulties with client and public engagement, working with professionals across disciplines and industries, and the value of art and design methodology in urban and architectural projects. Grateful for their time at the studio, the group then continued with a tour led by Mr Kanomata of cultural landmarks of East London, an area with a very distinct history and character from the city centre and West London, where their accommodation was located. Over the days the group engaged in optional cultural activities such as other gallery visits and evening music concerts.
“During a company visit to _Spacelab_, the participants learnt about community design methods. They learnt how to create projects that are different from those in Japan, such as the leadership style in working with citizens in ways other than developer projects.” HI 2022-23 participant
Exclusive tour and art-science experiments at Central Saint Martins
The third day was entirely dedicated to a visit to Central Saint Martins college of art and design, in the recently developed area north of Kings Cross station. This started with a walk in the new neighbourhood where the Google and Meta offices are located, before being welcomed to the university by Dr Joseph Wheeler, the Head of International Partnerships at CSM. The group joined Prof. Masahiko Hara from Tokyo Tech and other CSM academics for a networking event over coffee in the college’s stylish canteen. Dr Wheler then offered a tour of the facilities, explaining the rationale behind the architectural design and how it linked to the educational model in use at the university. The tour gave exclusive access to key areas in the building, including the departments of fashion and textiles, ceramics, industrial design, printmaking and digital fabrication. Librarians then welcomed the group to the library and its Materials and Products Collection, which hosts “new and innovative materials that represent current trends in design and manufacturing”.After lunch at the college, the group attended presentations by CSM staff on innovative approaches to collaborations with industry. Former and current students presented their work including award-winning art and design projects. The group had the chance to ask detailed and informative questions about their approaches to design and innovation.
“The workshop used many elements of philosophy in the way projects were carried out and research methods were used, and we saw the potential to use this in our own companies.” HI 2022-23 participant
The afternoon saw the participation in an experiment led by Heather Barnet, Pathway Leader MA Art and Science, and Prof. Masahiko Hara, coming from Japan as the Scientist in Residence at CSM. Thr group joined the scientists, artists, technicians and other staff in the Grow Lab, a biological laboratory located within the art college. A short lecture by Prof. Hara covered the need for alternative approaches to computation to overcome the limitation of current technologies. Slime mould, a free-living single-celled organism, offers interesting solutions to various mathematical problems because of its ability to produce “better than average” solutions, rather than rigid trying to reach the “best” one, which can often take a disproportional amount of time. These and other notions of ‘ambiguity’ and ‘uncertainty’ in natural sciences are the focus of Prof. Hara’s work, as anticipated in a HI session previously held in Tokyo. The group engaged with experimental design of patterns on a petri dish, onto which the food (rolled oats) and obstacles could inspire the organism to grow in certain directions over time. The experiment was to pose certain problems or questions to the slime mould and then use time lapse photography to record its behaviour over a period of a few days.
After setting up the dishes and discussing potential outcomes with the organisers, the conversation moved back to the lecture room with further presentations and networking opportunities. The later sessions were joined by the London office of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) which is a leading funding body for Japan-UK collaborative research. This was followed by a social event in the evening.The group visited the Grow Lab at CSM again the morning of the last day to check initial results of the experiments and discuss it with the scientists. They then visited the Tate Modern, a landmark art museum in the city before engaging in other visits and optional activities. The trip to London consolidated the HI network and offered multiple opportunities to experience first hand the union of art, design, science and engineering in a foreign context, with the potential to inspire further insights into the evolution of technology, innovative business models, art-science research and methodologies, and generally engage with a prolific and inspiring cultural environment for which London is known all over the world. The group then safely returned to Tokyo and will meet again at the HI Symposium to be held at Tokyo Tech on 14th April.
“I got the strong impression that the entire activity of the creative institutions we visited preached the importance of the process of reaching a conclusion. We learnt that in business, too, we should not only focus on the final deliverables, but also work more deeply on the process, even in the limited time available. Thank you for organising such a fruitful and wonderful tour.” HI 2022-23 participant
The 10th and last session of Tokyo Tech’s Hybrid Innovation programme for industry was held at Nohara Lab on 7th March 2023. The session saw the completion of both the Programme and the HI Practice by the 4 groups of participants in anticipation of the HI 2022-23 Symposium to be held on 14th April at Mishima Hall, Ookayama Campus.
The session started with a contribution from Assoc. Prof. Fumitake Takahashi who leads the Waste Recycle Research Group at the University. After a short lecture on the topic of plastic recycling, the remaining two groups presented their proposals and received constructive feedback from HI staff and other members. The discussion started with a visual review of the artwork and models constructed during previous sessions to communicate the groups’ ideas. The other participants were initially left to anticipate the content of the group’s proposal purely from interpreting the material on the tables, which was later formally presented by their makers.
The focus was on proposals that could achieve a selected SDG objective by 2035 through a project implemented by a company of their choice, also assigned as part of the role play simulation designed for the HI Practice. This highlighted strengths and weaknesses in both proposals and physical models/visuals, which offered precious feedback to improve the works. HI Director, Prof. Nohara provided a summary of the discussion and further feedback on the whiteboard wall, offering clear points to guide the conversations. Dr Takahashi provided further technical and personal views on the solutions discussed by each group. The workshop’s atmosphere was positively engaging, with all groups actively working towards the completion of their tasks, continuing to brainstorm better solutions and realising both visuals and maquettes using tools and materials made available in the room.
After ensuring clear plans for the completions of the project with all groups and scheduling the tasks that remain to implement for the Symposium, the session concluded with further discussions and prototyping activities. A selected delegation of HI members will participate in a visit to cultural institutions and innovative companies in London, UK, later in March 2023. This will include workshops at Central Saint Martins college, University of the Arts London. All participants will then meet again at the symposium in April.
The 9th session of the ‘Hybrid Innovation’ industry-academia programme was held on 28th February 2023. In this session, the proposals made by each group for the HI Practice section of the programme were reviewed using the “art crit” method in preparation for the symposium to be held in April. Feedback on elements still lacking from the proposals were supplemented as part of process of developing prototypes. Facilitation was provided by HI Director Prof. Kayoko Nohara, Creative Director, Dr Giorgio Salani, and Assistant Director, Kohei Kanomata.
This art crit was conducted on the work by two of the four groups. The “viewers” groups first looked at the models and sketches made by each presenting team and discussed what they understood from them before the proposals and related models were formally presented. What is important in this process is the ability to express without relying on presentation materials, and for the viewers to share their own insights beyond the intentions of the creators as feedback.
PowerPoint presentations rely on words and media, and this can limit a viewer’s freedom to perceive content. Through art crits, one can first check that the idea is conveyed clearly using only models and sketches, and at the same time, enjoy a variety of ways to receive the idea and develop its potential.
This time, after listening to the presentations and understanding the difference between the producer’s intention and the viewer’s reception, the ideas were further scrutinised by setting up a detailed criteria of technical and artistic decision points for the idea. This also helped refine the groups’ ideas to ensure that they were well-prepared for the symposium.
The 8th session of our Hybrid Innovation industry-academia collaborative programme was held on 14th February 2023. This session, held in groups, focused on prototyping HI practical projects in preparation for the presentations to be held in the 9th and 10th sessions. The teams worked on sketching and modelling, trying out various techniques used in previous sessions, and visualising their ideas with the support of HI Creative Director, Assistant Professor Giorgio Salani, and Assistant Director, Mr Kohei Kanomata.
It is very important in group work to visualise ideas and share ideas with other members of the same group. Visualisation can also reveal problems what we may not have been aware of. In this session, we sketched and modelled, and also conducted a PEST analysis to consider the impact of political, economic, social and technological factors on the project. This facilitated a discussion on how to identify aspects that groups had not considered when they came up with their proposals.
A simple focus group was employed to increase the strength of the project from different angles by swapping group members and conducting a present discussion of ideas to the newly added members. These exercises challenged the group to find a concept that would be the main axis of the project, independent of any uncertainties. Prototyping and peer-reviewing will continue in the next two sessions.
Session 7 of the industry-academia collaborative programme ‘Hybrid Innovation for the Future’ was held on 31st January 2023. This time, Professor Kunio Takahashi from the Department of Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology for Society and Environment, and Mr Yu Sekiguchi from the Research Institute for Future Industry, Institute for the Creation of Science and Technology, were invited to give a lecture on the phenomenon of inter-individual adhesion seen in geckos and spiders. Following on from the previous session, HI Creative Director Assistant Professor Giorgio Salani and Assistant Director Kohei Kanomata conducted prototyping for the HI Practice Project, where each group worked practically to give shape to their ideas.
The natural world is full of different phenomena. Through research, we can scientifically analyse and understand the mechanisms that allow geckos to climb walls, and apply this knowledge. Professor Kunio Takahashi lectured on the importance of having knowledge of various sciences and understanding things from a broad perspective by crossing specialised fields, and the importance of using this knowledge to model problems. The lecture was followed by a practical HI project, where the ideas of each group were discussed again by the members of the group to ensure mutual understanding. A simple exercise was also conducted to brush up the ideas of the groups to see how inclusivity and sustainability, which will become increasingly important in the future, can be adapted to the ideas of the groups.
Activity period: October 2022 to April 2023 PROGRAMME CONTENT: Seminars, workshops, manufacturing, experiments, creative community activities, etc. that flexibly use face-to-face and online. A final symposium – open to participating companies and the public – is scheduled for April 2023. Here you can find our previous posts on Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4, Session 5 and Session 6. For info please contact: email@example.com
The sixth session of the industry-academia collaborative programme ‘Hybrid Innovation for the Future’ was held on 10 January 2023 with a workshop led by HI Creative Director, Dr Giorgio Salani, and Specially Appointed Professor Dr Betti Marenko from Central Saint Martins college, University of the Arts London (UAL), UK. This was the second of three sessions of the HI Practice, a section of the programme that includes lectures and workshops on how to come up with practical ideas, improve the precision of those ideas and set themes for each team to present at the symposium in April 2023. HI Director Prof. Nohara supervised the session and Assistant Director Kohei Kanomata acted as facilitator. The sessions were conducted in English and Japanese, with simultaneous interpretation provided by two professional interpreters.
After each team had finished generating ideas in the previous HI Practice session, their ideas were tested in a variety of ways. In Session 6, the group practice provided activities to simulate a “convergent” ideation process, i.e. the goal of the session was to refine initial proposals for innovative solutions to the theme of “thermoplastics in 2035”. The teams discussed with their teammates how the ideas they had originally thought of could be used in specific industries, and worked to put their individual ideas together as a corporate entity. Although the companies were fictional, precise details such as services, number of employees, location and date of establishment were set so that the participants had a more realistic viewpoint in the discussions and were able to narrow down the direction of the many ideas that had been generated.
In addition to selecting a company profile, each team chose one of the 17 UN’s SDGs as a goal to reach through their company’s achievements. Prof. Marenko’s “Philosophical Pills’ anchor cards” (a design toolkit she developed at UAL) were utilised to stimulate a deeper response and discuss how the chosen goals could be achieved. By adding ever more narrowing conditions in this way, participants’ ideas acquired further insights and meaning. Convergence was achieved by discussing what could and could not realistically be done. In the remaining sessions, the teams will continue to work with their hands to create physical and visual prototypes, which will be tested and peer-reviewed before being presented at the HI symposium in April.
Activity period: October 2022 to April 2023 PROGRAMME CONTENT: Seminars, workshops, manufacturing, experiments, creative community activities, etc. that flexibly use face-to-face and online. A final symposium – open to participating companies and the public – is scheduled for April 2023. Here you can find our previous posts on Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4 and Session 5. For info please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Session 5 of Tokyo Tech’s Hybrid Innovation programme for industry was held at Nohara Lab on 13th December 2022. The session was led by Visiting Professor Dr Betti Marenko from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL), a transdisciplinary theorist, academic and educator working at the intersection of philosophy, design, technology and future-crafting practices. She is the founder and director of the Hybrid Futures Lab, a WRH Specially Appointed Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Reader in Design and Techno-Digital Futures at UAL. The session was conducted entirely in person, delivered in English and simultaneously translated to Japanese.
The activities kicked off with a challenge for the participants: to make a paper collage as a visual answer to the question, What do you see when you imagine the future in 2035? The participants were given a selection of international magazines as a source of images and inspiration. They first worked individually and then shared their interpretations of the assignment with the others in their group. Gradually, different visions of the future started to coalesce into shared landscapes that were later communicated to the room. The visual form of expression provided by the paper collage facilitated the discussion and effectively illustrated the future scenarios they were describing in words. At that stage, a combination of 2 concepts were introduced to disrupt these “anticipations” of the future. A deck of cards developed by Dr Marenko was used to assign a “philosophical pill” and a “feel” card to each group. These are concepts derived from philosophy and contemporary culture which are designed to demolish, reconstruct or amend the groups’ shared visions. As Dr Marenko explained:
“The Philosophical Pills are a series of philosophical insights, concepts and ideas that have been selected from western philosophy to interrogate and challenge established approaches and assumptions around the future. This work was done as part of the FUEL4 Design curriculum innovation project funded by the European union.Each pill is a lens to apply to existing images of the future to amplify, change, contest it. Each pill is a portal to think about futures. We call them pills because they should work as something easily digestible, that can produce tangible effect, and suggest routes for practical inspiration and implementation. Together with the Pills we have also a separate set of cards that offer specific affective states, emotion that colour your vision of the future (Feel cards)”.
The sessions saw a very active participation from all the members. Prompted by the use of cards, paper collage, brainstorming discussion and guided by Dr Marenko, the groups showed a high level of engagement with the topic of “future crafting”. A brief lecture by Dr Marenko consolidated some of the lessons from the activities and offered a precise language to discuss issues around forecasting that are relevant to business innovation. In the detailed discussion that followed, organisers and participants continued to reflect on the activities and their relevance to day-to-day challenges that the participants face in their work. The next session of the Hybrid Innovation programme will be held on 10th January 2023 and will also see the participation of Dr Marenko. We will continue the group work started in Sessions 4 (HI Practice) and 5, and employ interactive exercises to converge multiple proposals into a single “intervention” for each group. These will be further explored in subsequent sessions and materialised into physical prototypes that illustrate key lessons from the Tokyo Tech’s Hybrid Innovation process.
Activity period: October 2022 to April 2023 PROGRAMME CONTENT: Seminars, workshops, manufacturing, experiments, creative community activities, etc. that flexibly use face-to-face and online. A final symposium – open to participating companies and the public – is scheduled for April 2023. Here you can find our previous posts on Session 1, Session 2, Session 3 and Session 4. For info please contact: email@example.com
The fourth session of our Hybrid Innovation programme for Japanese industry was held at Nohara Lab on 29th November 2022. HI Creative Director Dr Giorgio Salani led the session with a lecture on Art Thinking in innovation practice and kickstarted the first of three HI Practice sessions focusing on group work. The staff team includes HI Director Professor Kayoko Nohara – who translated the content to Japanese – and Assistant Director Kohei Kanomata, who facilitated the discussion.
The first half of the session was occupied by a conversation around two key points raised in previous sessions that were wort exploring in more depth: what do we mean by Art Thinking? And, what techniques and notions of Art Thinking can be beneficial in a business context? The lecture in English by Dr Giorgio Salani (Tokyo Tech) employed examples from Western art history to explore fundamental differences between art, science and other practices. For example, an installation by the artists Christo and Jean Claude was introduced to point out the sharp difference in the goals of fine artists, designers and engineers, even when they are working on the same structure and follow a strict design methodology to implement their work. Similarly inspired by various artworks by famous figures in the Western canon, distinctions were raised between rational, logical and even alogical thinking in multiple fields. Other examples include the contrasting role ambiguity plays in the arts and in science, the distinction between “sense-making” and “decision making”, and the importance of reflexivity in art practice (in common with the social sciences).
The lecture also pointed out the difference between purely Art Thinking-based innovation platforms and Tokyo Tech’s Hybrid Innovation approach, which integrates lessons from Art Thinking into a transdisciplinary method. The theories debated in the first half directly informed the practical exercises that were later assigned to the participants. In particular, intuitive sketching offered means to connect with individual goals and specific expertise that each participant was bringing to the group work. Making personal interests and intentions apparent in visual form was used to negotiate the splitting of the team into groups, who will carry over multiple sessions and complete the assignment for the HI Practice together. Informed by transdisciplinary interactive exercises, each group will develop an “intervention” to tackle issues around an assigned broad theme. This can take the form of products, services, artworks or visual representations that can range from fully working models to more speculative/evocative work, in either digital or physical form. The participants started the ideation phase with sketching assignments intended to generate quick and varied ideas without any form of self-censorship. These will be taken on in the next few sessions and will eventually coalesce into the final proposals. The results will be amply discussed in the final sessions using a mixed art/science approach, and presented to the public in the HI Symposium to be held in April 2023 (exact date TBC).
The next session of the HI programme will be held on 13th November December and will see the participation of Dr Betti Marenko, a design theorist and philosopher from Central Saint Martins college, University of the Arts London. The event will be held in person at Tokyo Tech, with an interactive workshop held in English and translated simultaneously into Japanese.
Activity period: October 2022 to April 2023
PROGRAMME CONTENT: Seminars, workshops, manufacturing, experiments, creative community activities, etc. that flexibly use face-to-face and online. A final symposium – open to participating companies and the public – is scheduled for April 2023.
2022年11月15日、産学連携ハイブリッド・イノベーションプログラム第3回セッションを開催しました。今回は東工大特任教授であるネイサン・コーエン博士が、演習とディスカッションをリード。コーエン博士はロンドン芸術大学セントラル・セント・マーチンズ校のMA Art/Scienceの元コースリーダーであり、アーティスト兼研究・教育者です。共著にThe Art of Scienceがあり、この本で、時代を超えて我々の文化を形成してきたアーティストと科学者の作品群を紹介しています。またスタッフチームとして、HIディレクターの野原佳代子教授、HIクリアイティブディレクターのジョルジョ・サラニ助教、アシスタントディレクターの鹿又亘平氏が入りました。
The third session of our Hybrid Innovation programme for Japanese industry was held at Nohara Lab on 15th November 2022. Tokyo Tech’s Visiting Professor Dr. Nathan Cohen led the activities and the discussion, alongside HI Director Prof. Kayoko Nohara and HI Assistant Director, Kohei Kanomata. Dr. Cohen is an artist, educator and researcher, and the former Course Leader of the MA Art/Science at Central Saint Martins college, University of the Arts London. He is a co-author of “The Art of Science”, an illustrated selection of works by artist-scientists that shaped our cultures over the ages.
Participants attended in person whilst Dr. Cohen joined us from the UK on zoom, assisted by a simultaneous translation service provided by NHK. This was a very practical session with no central lecture but 3 exercises designed to facilitate a discussion about differences and overlaps between artistic and scientific approaches to creativity and innovation. After some warm-up questions about the perception of art vs. science among the participants, a series of captivating images were shown and discussed. These included less familiar works of art from the distant and recent past, from mysterious ethnic and prehistoric art to more contemporary works, and Dr. Cohen’s own artwork. Questions were raised about the artists’ intentions and methods of making, with educated guesses shared by the participants. Without prior knowledge some images looked alien and hard to decipher, but even more well-known artworks were often made with techniques and materials unfamiliar to the session’s participants. This stimulated an initial exchange about the goals of art and its role in societies across the globe. What is the purpose for which the art was created? What is its social role?
After a short break, the participants were split in groups and assigned a practical task. Each group had one hour to build a bridge of 1.2m span, to be constructed between 2 tables using only bamboo sticks, elastic bands and coloured ribbon. The results would be judged both in terms of technical features such as strength and aesthetics. Early on, all groups engaged in discussions aided by sketches of bridge designs on paper, and gradually moved on to checking the materials and testing solutions. Multiple ways of joining sticks were possible and this gave options and variety to the project. The exercise was engaging and all groups focused closely on their tasks, splitting labour among them and progressing fast. The all managed to finish on time and the results were assessed by Dr. Cohen and everyone in the room, collectively. Books were used to test the strengths of the structures and everyone voted for their preferred solution. The groups also introduced the motivation behind the different designed and these were sometimes insightful and not immediately obvious. The conclusion we all drew from the activity and the discussion was that the technical features and aesthetics of the bridges could be thought of separately but in reality they were largely intertwined and the winning bridge was judge by most to be both the stronger and the best looking.
At the end of the session, we reflected again on what it means to be artistic, in the light of what it means to be scientific. In particular, when we say that ‘science is rational’, what does that mean? How does it differ from ‘rationalisation’ in business? What is the rationality to be found in art? Where are the standards of aesthetics to be found? … and so the discussion goes on. We are thus on the path to exploring the fusion of science and art.
Session 4 of the HI programme will be held on 29th November and will focus on various techniques to facilitate the divergence in creativity, at the start of the ideation phase. Group work to start in Session 4 will be undertaken by the participants across various sessions to exemplify an innovation cycle based on HI theory and practice. The results will be amply discussed in the final sessions and presented to the public in the HI Symposium to be held in April 2023 (exact date TBC).
Activity period: October 2022 to April 2023PROGRAMME CONTENT: Seminars, workshops, manufacturing, experiments, creative community activities, etc. that flexibly use face-to-face and online. A final symposium – open to participating companies and the public – is scheduled for April 2023.