Intermedia creation involves exploring the fusion of science/technology with artistic expression, and searching for and questioning the meaning of the new forms of expression born from that relationship. To accomplish this, we strive for the establishment of intermedia art and science, a discipline that requires a mixing of scientists who have an understanding of the arts, and artists who have an understanding of science.

Professor Yasuhiro Oikawa
Working to give engineering a new role in people's lives.
Department of Intermedia Art and Science / Department of Intermedia Art and Science(FSE Graduate School)

Q. What sort of department is the Department of Intermedia Art and Science?

― Up until recently, the world of engineering was primarily concerned with the production of quality products at low cost, but there has also been a great diversification of values, and demand is growing for products and services that can fulfill a growing range of requirements. Meeting these needs requires an understanding of questions such as “How do people feel about particular events?”, and “How do people perceive utility?”
We believe that the answers to such questions can be reached by looking at them from the added perspective of “expression.”
Since this is an engineering department, we start from a base of theoretical engineering studies along with science and technology. However, since research into new theories and technologies can be affected by questions of expression, we aim for advances through a merger of their mutual influence. Our Department enlists teachers with both engineering and artistic backgrounds, and undertakes research that includes a cross-section of both.

Communication through pleasing sounds

Q. Tell us about your specialty.

― I study “sound” from an engineering perspective. My goals are the creation of acoustic spaces that are pleasant, and the realization of better aural communications. Sound is a physical phenomenon, and a foundation in mathematics and physics is extremely important to developing a clear and precise understanding of physical phenomena
In studying optimal acoustic spaces, we undertake the application of light in recording sounds. Most people think that microphones are the device used to accurately record sounds. However, the presence of a microphone in any ordinary space will have an effect, however small, on the acoustics of that space. But if light can be employed for this purpose, it may be possible to measure and record sounds without placing any object in the space.
Further, since light propagates at 300,000 km per second, as opposed to 340m/sec for sound, sound is practically stationary when compared to light. Therefore, the skillful use of light could make it possible to grasp and record the acoustic field in a space instantaneously, allowing stricter representation of that space.
In the area of aural communication, in cooperation with dentists, we are putting effort into sound collection based on a mode of perception that uses bone conduction through the teeth. There are patients with hearing disorders who cannot hear sounds carried through the air (which are perceived through vibrations of the eardrum), but who can perceive sound that is conducted through bone. Incidentally, after Beethoven lost his hearing, he continued to “listen” to the sound of his piano by touching it with a conductor’s baton that he held in his teeth. Sound collection through the mouth can also be used to improve perception in locations that are very noisy
In the future, the research theme I want to pursue is new modes of speech recognition. With current speech recognition, sounds are simply replaced with text data, and no attempt is made to represent subtle nuances or inflections in speech.

Q. At other universities, acoustics is a branch of engineering. How does adding expression into the equation change that?

― Expression is no different than other fields of study. As long as people live, they continue expressing themselves. Conversations between people and statements of opinion are all forms of expression. So in essence, expression can be viewed as a deeply human characteristic.
Moreover, the matter of how to make mathematical knowledge useful in present life is a question for engineering. The visible enrichment of human life for individual human beings is also a mission of the Department of Intermedia Art and Science.
I believe that this is what makes the Department’s study of acoustics meaningful.

The importance of striving for mastery

Q: Please give us a message for prospective students.

―If you’re the kind of person who wants to come up with new forms of expression, or who wants to create the technology to support such expression, I would encourage you to join the Department of Intermedia Art and Science. However, the university is not just a place for producing and developing products and technology; making a contribution to the development of scholarship is also extremely important, so a kind of rigor is also required. I hope students will come with the intention of mastering the discipline of their ambition.
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