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President’s Address: Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences Opening Ceremony 2018

On April 6, the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences held its 2018 opening ceremony to welcome its 18th class of new students. The new students introduced themselves, showing zeal and enthusiasm for their coming research at IAMAS.

2018 Opening Ceremony President’s Address


Congratulations on your successful admission to IAMAS, everyone. I would like to welcome you to our school.

Today marks the second opportunity I have had to congratulate you new students. Instead of another “congratulations,” I would like to share with you the same thing I want every new class of students to know when starting at IAMAS. This is what I said to last year’s incoming students: IAMAS is a miniature cosmos protected from the outside world, a place where “failure” is permitted; and, as your devote yourselves to your research over the next two years, I would have you be aware of the gaze of those who have passed before us, and those who will come after us. Today, I would like to talk to the special meaning of the word “art” as we use it here at IAMAS.

All of you are coming here from various occupations and undergraduate departments to study in an area outside of your specialty: the “department of media creation.” You will not be leaving behind the knowledge and skill you have previously acquired, but you will build upon this, deepen your specialization, and and pursue this “media creation;” which is, in other words, “art.”

When we at IAMAS call “art” is not limited to art genres like fine art or music. We do not live in the midst of nature like people did long ago; rather, we live in a world dominated by “machines” undergirded by science and technology. In this era in which cutting-edge fields like nanotechnology, neurotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence are progressing by leaps and bounds, it sometimes seems as if people have lost sight of the raison d’etre of what was once called art. However, the origin of the word art is “skill” or “technique;” so, in that original sense of the word, I would like to call all the research and creation that we do here at IAMAS, “Art.” In other words, I believe that all art and technology required for nature, human, and machine to coexist on this earth, in addition to all fields of academic study, should be considered “creation;” and all of this together should be called “art.” This is not simply because the word has a nice ring to it; rather, it is because it is necessary that we think of it in this way.

Why is that? It is because, starting with the modern division between science and the humanities, the act of pursuing one’s individual research in fragmented specialty fields has not made humankind happy.

What we need today is not only specialized research, but also nothing less than a sense and sensibility that combines these fields and allows us to grasp the world in a unified way. This is not simply a conscientized problem-solving, but an essential skill containing human intelligence. In other words, sensibility is a kind of guiding principle that supports the foundations of learning, as well as a temperament related to the origins of human imagination, which desires beauty.

This form of intelligence and its intellectual techniques have been expressed since the opening of IAMAS by the slogan “the fusion of art and science.”

This may sound grandiose, but it is nothing of the sort. Humans, far from acting based on logical judgements alone, are creatures constantly driven by desires, emotions, customs, and habits that we are not even aware of ourselves. The same is true for all of you as well as me. What must we do in order to leave a peaceful world in which the next generation of such people can live spiritually rich lives? Accordingly, in what form does our work and research relate to the nature, people, and machines of the earth? What I am trying to say is, I would like you to continue thinking about this while you are at IAMAS. That is the meaning of being “aware of the gaze of those who have passed before us, and those who will come after us.” In other words, even if the research we do here at IAMAS seemed to be no different from usual graduate-level work; in that respect, all of your work and research should contain something of that human “art.”

The work and research you all do in this graduate course may seem like no more than a first, small step from the perspective of your specialty field. However, please be aware that one step ーin other words, what you will aim for and in which direction you will go for these next two yearsー will decisively influence your lives, and, in fact, the world. Also, please bear in mind that your time in IAMAS may be the last period of your life in which you can spend your days purely thinking about this world and your work and research, nay, the last time that such days may be permitted.

With that, starting next Monday, let us begin!

Masahiro Miwa

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