Explores merging frontiers of
arts and medicine by students
of Tokyo University of the Arts
and University of Tokyo,
Faculty of Medicine.
Who We Are ... in brief
Arts Meet Science Project for Students (AMS for Students; AMSS) explores the merging boundaries of arts and science through rigorous discussion, empirical analyses, and creative experiments. The project is a joint effort of interested students of Tokyo University of the Arts and the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Tokyo, all with a strong interest in the foundations and applications of arts and medicine (and science at large). Supported by the Arts Meet Science Project(AMS) at Tokyo University of the Arts and others, we exploit knowledge of both arts and science to explore the ways of crosstalk between them. Our past ,present and future activities include (but not restricted to): making artistic and academic presentations at school festivals, performing concerts at hospitals, and holding symposiums inviting professional artists and scientists.
What is art, how does it made and where does it take us? These seemingly innocuous yet genuinely profound questions challenge as well as intrigue scholars, artists, and people in general who attempt to propose a definition of art, make analytical claims upon it, and produce artworks hoping them to satisfy the emotional drive.
There are enough reasons that make those questions so attractive and complicated. First, art is old. Although possibly not as old as the earliest record of modern humans, which dates back to around 195,000 years ago¹, we can see traces of artistic intent and refinement through pigment making with ochre ², perforated marine shells for personal ornaments ³’⁴, and abstract representations ⁵’⁶ around 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. Second, art is diverse. Aesthetic experience can be highly individual⁷, even to the extent that each person has their own definitions / criteria of what it takes to be ’art.’⁸ While there is growing academic interest in the cross-cultural universal features of aesthetic experience and product ⁹’¹⁰, the concept of art as we take for granted is always challenged by both artists (e.g. an artist who present a shark in formaldehyde in a vitrine¹¹ ) and researchers (e.g. those who find anthropological evidence against the universal preference for consonance over dissonance¹² ） alike. And third, art is in our nature. You don’t have to wait for examinations by scientists to know that something is happening in our bodies when we appreciate art and that something needs to happen when we create art. Indeed, neurological damage affects both of these processes in a number of ways.¹³⁻¹⁵
Considering all those reasons, you can conclude, at least tentatively, that art, in any of its manifestations and representations, has fundamental relations with our human existence. Then, how do we see and reflect upon such ’fundamental relations’ not in a vague and nebulous way? How do we put our fingers on them and make aesthetic experience richer and more powerful? We believe that scientific ways of exploring help. Science, by putting invisible ideas and sounds into visible images and numbers, helps us get a more vivid picture of what we are doing when we are having aesthetic experience.¹⁶’¹⁷
This bridge between art (or arts, given its many forms) and science, especially medicine, benefits the latter because one of the ultimate goals of it is to understand the structural and functional underpinnings of our conscious experience and emotion, most prominently observed in artistic experience.¹⁸’¹⁹
It is sometimes the case that techniques of artists are ’rediscovered’ through the lens of science.¹⁸’²⁰ Also, if arts are really fundamental to our human nature, we may possibly heal our maladies with the power of arts. But it doesn’t stop there. The bridge is also beneficial for artists because they can take advantage of the knowledge from science to have a better control over their bodies and to expand their creative landscape.¹⁸ When art therapy is scientifically established, artists would have more opportunities of presenting their skills. It is thus precisely at the crossroads between arts and science that this project is situated. We are mostly comprised of students of Tokyo University of the Arts and the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Tokyo. Although each of us has different background and future career path, all have a strong interest in the foundations and applications of arts and medicine (and science at large). By learning and sharing artistic and scientific knowledge and techniques, and above all with enormous passion, we explore the merging boundaries of arts and science through rigorous discussion, empirical analyses, and creative experiments. After all, in both arts and science, you have to be enthusiastic about acquiring, producing, and finding more than yesterday.
Objectives and Activities
We are students, not professional researchers in laboratories.
So our knowledge comes not from microscopes or clinical observations
(, which is a bit unfortunate!) but mainly from books, research articles,
artistic experiments, and discussion. However, we want our knowledge
to be as concrete, evidence-based, and extensive as possible. Some of the
questions we ask are:
・What are the neurological underpinnings of art? How do we perceive music,
paintings, and language and how do we create them? Is there a universal features among them?
・How do you define the relationships between different forms of art and
ourselves (e.g. drive, emotion, feeling)?
・How much art effective in clinical medicine? What are the benefits and
the potential scope, if any, of art therapy in practice?
・What is the source of creativity? How do we expand our capabilities and
make something new?
・What are the potentials of art? How much influence does art and
artists have in our lives?
・What is the ’best’ way of performing art? Is there any science in the
conventional methods of the most effective way of performing music?
After all, what is art? What is medicne? What can they do? What can't they do?
We now have several projects (see Create), and different students participate
in different projects. We hold meetings once or twice a month to update each
other on the progress of those ongoing projects and get immediate feedback
from other members. This is also where the future direction of AMSS is decided.
(And of course a meeting lasts until late at night each time!)
Our activity is supported by Arts Meet Science Project (AMS) at Tokyo University of the Arts and many other interested professional researchers and artists. We attend, make a report, and get a feedback from those advisers at monthly meetings with them.
Learning and sharing are not enough to go forward and make something new. We are passionate in creating opportunities for arts and science to interact with and stimulate each other. Some of the ongoing and future projects are listed below. We hope that our activities form a social and academic current of interests in what we do and what we intend to do.
・Applying new scientific knowledge to the appreciation of artworks
・Conducting empirical experiments on the artistic questions
・Creating innovative works of art inspired by medical and scientific research
・Devising a framework for art and artists to take part in clinical medicine and in society in general
・Designing ways of public relations of AMS and AMSS
・Holding a symposium inviting professional researchers and artists
・Performing concerts and holding artistic workshops in hospitals
・Spreading hard-to-understand medical knowledge through easy-to-understand artworks
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(2) Henshilwood, C. S., d’Errico, F., Van Niekerk, K. L., Coquinot, Y., Jacobs,
Z., Lauritzen, S. E., ... & Garc´ıa-Moreno, R. 2011. A 100,000-year-old
ochre-processing workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Science, 334, 219-222.
(3) Bouzouggar, A., Barton, N., Vanhaeren, M., d’Errico, F., Collcutt, S., Higham, T.,
... & Stringer, C. 2007. 82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications
for the origins of modern human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
104, 9964 - 9969.
(4) d’Errico, F., Vanhaeren, M., Barton, N., Bouzouggar, A., Mienis, H., Richter, D.,
... & Lozouet, P. 2009. Additional evidence on the use of personal ornaments in the
Middle Paleolithic of North Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
106, 16051 - 16056.
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& Pollarolo, L. 2018. An abstract drawing fromthe 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave,
South Africa. Nature, 562, 115-118.
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A., ... & Wintle, A. G. 2002. Emergence of modern human behavior: Middle Stone
Age engravings from South Africa. Science, 295, 1278-1280.
(7) Vessel, E. A., Starr, G. G., & Rubin, N. 2013. Art reaches within: aesthetic experience,
the self and the default mode network. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 258.
(8) Pelowski, M., Gerger, G., Chetouani, Y., Markey, P. S., & Leder, H. 2017. But is it
really art? The classification of images as “Art”/“Not Art” and correlation with appraisal
and viewer interpersonal differences. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1729.
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In Progress in Brain Research (Vol. 237, pp. 77-103). Elsevier.
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Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music
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We plan to present posters on medical interpretations of paintings. We also present simple experiments for the visitors to experience the mechanisms of how we localise sound. Below is a link of full version of the experiments.
1. Don Giovanni
1. Don Giovanni
We organised a lecture on scientific interpretations of art. It was open to public. Lecturers were: Prof. Toshio Suda (Singapore Univ., a co-translater of Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present by Eric Kandel), and Emer. Prof. Shinichi Nishikawa (Kyoto Univ.).
(designed by Runa Takasugi)
We organised a lecture on the medical research of art for all medical students at the University of Tokyo. They were open to public. Lecturers were: Prof. Hideaki Kawabata (Keio Univ.), Prof. Shoji Tanaka (Sophia Univ.), Assoc. Prof. Masayuki Sato (Mie Univ.), Prof. Masayoshi Ichie (Tohoku Univ.), Prof. Koukichi Sugihara (Meiji Univ.), and Assist. Prof. Kosuke Ito (Niigata Univ.).
We presented posters with a review of how we perceive paintings and how we are moved by them.
What is it like when music, painting, and medicine are all in one place to interact with and stimulate each other? We let a note, a brush, and a stethoscope represent those respective areas. See where this logo takes us.
(designed by Seina Yamaguchi)