Tokyo Institute of Technology: Multicultural Understanding through Art final presentations inspired by questions and dialogues

Final presentations for Multicultural Understanding through Art, a 4th-quarter course at Tokyo Tech, were held on January 28. Under the leadership of two art experts, the event aimed to share the works created by four teams of 13 students in the course with the broader public, and to encourage exchange and dialogue born from the diverse perspectives and interpretations regarding art.

Due to a sudden spread of COVID-19, the presentations were abruptly switched from a face-to-face format to Zoom on the day of the event. Each team had 15 minutes to present the results of their continuous questioning of what art is and how it relates to multicultural understanding. The audience and lecturers on campus watched the teams’ creative works projected on a large screen via Zoom. The works created and presented by each team were as follows.

Team Confused: “Fusion of physical expression, music, and images inspired by Mandala”
A modern Mandala formed from team members’ hands played in the background, and all the participants joined in by clapping their hands while absorbing the unique visual images and rhythm together.

Focusing on perception, the team studied how the senses of “quiet” and “noisy” are created, asking the audience questions while using props such as paper, a ping pong ball, and stones, and examining the responses posted on the Zoom chat.

In a group, one person listened to the sounds of a spoken language they were not familiar with, wrote the sounds on the board as they heard them, guessed the meaning, and then passed on the task to the next person. The team also asked whether the board could be a work of art and exchanged opinions with the audience.

Virtual event visitors commented that each team’s presentation was unique, and that they would love to see a face-to-face event next time. Some also said they would have enjoyed the event even more had they known about the process of creating the works. Despite the challenges of working online, the artworks instigated a meaningful dialogue not only between the students who created them, but also between the creators and the viewers.

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