Select Language

Interdisciplinary Study of Physical Techniques Using Technology

Research period:2016.10-2020.3



Physical Technique,Science Technology,Interaction,


In modern society, in which the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has penetrated into various aspects of people’s lives and face-to-face communication has diminished considerably, the value of physical interaction is being called into question anew. In this joint study, we compare how the introduction of technology (specifically ICT with the use of computer technology) and digital technology into tradition, representation or practice of physical techniques has affected memories and images of humans and how physical techniques have changed and been reconstructed based on cases that vary from one region to another.
Practical art and knowledge that require embodiment have traditionally been acquired through oral instruction or observation. In recent years, however, as digital technology develops, there has been a noticeable tendency to digitize practical art,, making it possible for the public to share physical techniques in more extended social relations through the media or via the Internet. The role of digital technology in handing down physical techniques to the next generation has yet to be fully discussed, however. In fact, digital technology can visualize, verbalize, and quantify human behavior, voice, expression, and body temperature, among other physical characteristics,, but body knowledge, such as timing, melody or rhythm, cannot be fully measured scientifically. Against this background, this study examines the role of technology used in handing down physical techniques from one generation to another with the aim of making a theoretical contribution to discussions on body theory and interaction as well as communication theory.

Research Results

This interdisciplinary research project held a total of eight workshops, spanning 12 days in all. Guest lecturers and project members presented 24 reports on and examined how ICT is involved in the transmission and inheritance of physical techniques and how it affects and expands the physical experience. Through this process, we found that while ICT has played a certain role in the preservation and recording of traditional performing arts, it has also restructured conflicts between and within people on standardization, commercialization, and globalization that accompanies recording. We also discussed the possibilities and limits of “measuring” physical techniques, which have been considered difficult to quantify—for example, problems related to the irreplaceability and one-time-only nature of techniques that develop out of the accumulation of people’s creative efforts, and the relatedness between the physical and emotional—and found that these issues require more in-depth discussion. In addition, new perspectives were developed regarding how to overcome logocentrism, which ends up concealing verbalization when describing physical techniques in the first place, and the theme of the expansion of senses that occurs through ICT.
Compiled by volunteer researchers, the interim report of the research results was published in a special issue of the Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology, but the examples were so diverse that a framework to bring together the entire research project could not be satisfactorily developed, and comments from the peer review provided an opportunity to think about a more comprehensive framework. However, considering that this research project was an interdisciplinary project whose participants were made up of younger researchers, the fact that each member gained ideas from the project and demonstrated accomplishments in their respective specializations shows that it did yield a certain degree of results. Moreover, since the project was extended to three and a half years due to the coordinator taking maternity leave, it deepened the connections between researchers across specializations, which could be a valuable benefit for their future research careers.