Theme 14: Art and Archaeology

Lila Janik (University of Cambridge), Peter J Matthews, (National Museum of Ethnology, Japan), Sahoko Aki (Independent Artist) and Kenichi Yano (Ritsumeikan University)

Artistic expression is one of the unique attributes of Homo sapiens that can be traced over a hundred thousand years. How did the creative ability to produce music, visual art or body performance develop in prehistoric and historic cultures? To interpret material culture in terms of artistic object production, use, display and appreciation, contemporary archaeologists employ modern scientific methods, diverse theoretical standpoints, and collaborative exploration with practicing artists.

Intangible performances ‘captured’ in ancient rock art give us insights into long forgotten dance practices or seasonal celebrations. Preserved instruments, past depictions, and scientific analyses of sound provide an aural dimension to otherwise silent archaeological enquiry. Synergies between the creative, scientific and interpretive can cut across or focus on the visual, musical, performance and other arts. These are all topics we invite for consideration by session organisers.

Alongside the archaeology-focused presentations, we invite practicing artists to join the academic sessions or contribute through exhibition or performance. We hope these collaborations will bring new dimensions to the academic sessions, with participating artists using archaeological methods to explore the world, or deriving inspiration from working with archaeologists and scientific views on the past. Sessions may also focus on artists and archaeologists working together to transform the broken pieces of history into public perceptions of the past and archaeological enquiry. One challenge of the theme is to involve archaeologists and artists in equal measure, in order to freely discover relationships between art and archaeology, and to create opportunities for unexpected synergies.

Artistic and academic presentations will be made in local, small-scale settings within the old urban quarters of Kyoto. The exhibitions, performances, and academic presentations will be hosted in temple environments and mid-town landscapes, outside the main conference venue. Participants in these sessions will enjoy a rich experience of Kyoto, while also exploring the interactions between Art and Archaeology.

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