Publish or Perish!
Geidai Tokyo University of the Arts
Within the scientific community it is understood that one must have her/his work published to be recognised, and to be considered relevant.
Within the world of fine art, the need to publish would seem obvious but contrary to this, publications seem to be going unnoticed.
While nobody denies the fact that successful art first has to succeed in the competition for attention to become relevant within the discourse, the more obvious source of this attention, publications, are typically overlooked.
While we perceive Art History as the record of development within art, culture and society, which is illustrated by the fine examples of visual art we see today, perhaps we must accept that there is a more appropriate reading of this notion.
Art History might not be the history of Art but rather, the History of Published Art.
Art that has not been published has perished from the collective memory.
Printmaking as a medium has long served us as a means to publish and to be recognised. To spread ideas, to enter into the social discourse and political arena. To influence and to move. Andy Warburg thought of Art History as the history of images at a time when the reproduction and publication of images was far from being sufficient in quantity and quality.
Today we see the influencer courted by businesses because they publish their ideas and reach a larger audience on their own, which is a vivid example of the impact publications have on society.
While publications, targeted mass communication and other social networks get more and more obscure and complicated, printmaking has become the petri-dish for analysis, critique and innovation of the age of communication, which started when the first print was pulled.
The long history of printmaking in Asia builds a strong foundation for the work that is currently in creation at the Printmaking Laboratory of the Tokyo University of the Arts, located in a city spearheading all new forms of digital communication. Tokyo, the archetype of a post modern city is now a place to redefine printmaking within a post digital age where the competition for attention in order to place images in our heads is breathtaking, artists are again called upon to imagine new ways to create and publish images.
This theme was also a point of discussion within our department in 2018, when we invited German writer and theorist Wolfgang Ullrich to give a series of lectures and to engage in a conversation that questioned the Western concept of Art and its dissolution in a changing social, cultural and economic environment. Globalisation and digitalisation in combination with learning about machines, and shifting economic realities, have all created new paradigms for the way in which artists act and interact. In addition, artists are defining their role within this development in reference to how different social and educational elites identify with art as well as through the way in which visual culture is being shaped in the future.
Printmaking Department of the Tokyo University of the Arts with information on the lectures by Wolfgang Ullrich:
Tokyo University of the Arts
The Printmaking Department
The Tokyo University of the Arts or Geidai as the university is usually referred to, is the oldest university for art and music in Japan. The current structure of the institution, founded 132 years ago, united the Tokyo Fine Art School and the Tokyo Music School into a flagship institution of art and music education and research in Japan. At the same time it combined Fine Arts and Applied Arts, placing emphasis on skill and technical excellence. Today it is the only national institution of its kind, offering courses in traditional and emerging fields of Visual Art, Design and Architecture as well as in classical and contemporary music from Western and Japanese traditions. The school has opened new campuses in Tokyo and Yokohama in order to integrate digital media and music production, as well as film and animation.
While it has been a place for national cultural research and identification, efforts in recent years have turned it into an active internationally engaged forum to participate in the global discourse on art and culture, culminating in the introduction of a bilingual Master and PhD program called Global Arts and Global Arts Practice. Geidai today is a diverse and multifaceted space of artistic exploration.
The Printmaking Department is part of the School of Oil Painting, and consists of two research groups. When the department was established by Komai Tetsuro, the leading Japanese Printmaker of his time, it covered the fields of Japanese Woodblock Print as well as Western Techniques like Intaglio and Lithography. With the addition of Silkscreen, the department was split into two laboratories – one with a focus on Asian/Japanese context and one with a base in the Western understanding of printmaking. The research groups are currently headed by Prof. Miida Seiichiro and Prof. Michael W. Schneider. Today the school offers a variety of traditional and contemporary techniques and practices including a Japanese paper making studio.
Undergraduate students are asked to choose a focus for the 3. and 4. year, when they can chose printmaking as a major. Students who wish to study in the master program have to take an additional entrance exam. Every year we are able to accept approximately 8 students. The printmaking department is part of the graduate school doctorate program and is currently home to three doctorate candidates.
Today the devision of techniques has disappeared and intercultural dialogue has become an integral part of the education offered. Based on the study of printmaking and print media, we explore all facets of art and visual communication that rely on multiplication and publishing. The department offers students digital production lines and aims to establish an understanding of print as the central medium of a society based on communication and the availability of information.
As contemporary art practices have increasingly focused on the very essence of visual communication and its media, we see printmaking and print media as placed right at the center of the contemporary discourse. We respond to this by establishing an approach that integrates the highest levels of teaching and training skills with a post-digital and critical position on the role of the arts, and the function of the artist in a changing socio-cultural and economic environment.
In other words we aim to pursue the best traditions in printmaking which have always combined technical innovation and excellence, with critical and revolutionary messages in order to shape society and the future.
Tokyo Geijitsu Daigaku – Tokyo University of the Arts Homepage in English:
Printmaking Department English and Japanese
Oil Printing Department Japanese and some English:
Geidai Global English:
Global Art Practice English:
Photos on this page
Main image in this page is a detail from “Five Politicians” by Gouki Ota. You can access the artists pages by clicking the small images.
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