Dec. 11, 2013 Politics of Measurement

Dialogue between Chihiro Minato and Sophie Houdart

Measuring measurer – an observation of hyper-measurement society
by Chihiro Minato, Prof. Tama Art University, Tokyo

measuring mesuarer_small
Minamisoma,Fukushima,from Measurement Project 2012

After 3.11 north-eastern great earthquake, our everyday life has been submerged under numbers and ratios. The probability of next “big one” was communicated through an interminable tables and schemas of numbers. At the same time new measuring posts for radioactivity were massively installed in every play grounds for kids around Fukushima, even we see no kids playing any more. Under such circumstance I imagined “the measuring project” not to measure the air nor earth but to measure the life under endless measurement.

Chihiro Minato: Artist, writer, founding member of Institut for Art Anthropology, currently head of Information Design Tama Art University. His latest works presented after 2011 includes “Distance/Continuity” (Nantes,France) “Gourd Museum”(12th Taipei Biennale ) “Peace meets Art ”(Hiroshima Prefectural Museum) “Shiori project” (Heidelberg) “Thinking Landscapes” (Ulaan Bator,Mongolia).

What’s in the air. Or how we get to know what we know about invisible
by Sophie Houdart, Laboratory of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology, French Center for Scientific research (CNRS), Paris

sophie houdart

The Tôhoku earthquake and the subsequent nuclear explosion that happened on the 11th, March 2011, have constituted a disruptive experience for many people, in Japan as elsewhere. Since 2011, many things have been published or diffused trying to catch what really happened then. As an anthropologist of science, I started a project on the measurement of air following the disaster. Part of the idea is to scrutinize how people got to learn about their new environmental situation as a consequence of what happened when the earthquake, the tsunami, and then the nuclear explosion occurred. On this particular aspect I met meet groups of governmental experts, citizen association members as well as farmers who have been working on producing (more or less…) reliable numbers. But the aftermaths of the disaster and the disruption of lives that it involved could only be understood if we cross these numbers with other aspects that are very often disconnected: the “natural” aspects and the industrialized ones. In terms of experience all these aspects are linked for most of the people and the event produced a “perturbation” in their life (but also at the scale of the country, and of the world at large) very much like a perturbation or turbidity in geophysics. For all these reasons my talk will also deal with geophysics and the way geophysicists produced measurements of their own to get a glimpse of the tiny, invisible, movements that occur underneath.

Sophie Houdart: She gained her Ph.D., Nanterre University, France, 2000) belongs to the French Center for Scientific research (CNRS) and is a member of the Laboratory of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology. Trained in social anthropology, she has been focusing in various practices within the field of innovation studies, in the realm of science as well as of art, especially in Japan. She is the author of several books, among whichKuma Kengo. An Unconventional Monograph (Ed. Donner Lieu, 2009) dedicated to the studio practice of the famous Japanese architect; and also Humains, non humains.Comment repeupler les sciences sociales (with O. Thiery, La Découverte, 2011).



Politics of Measurement: Chihiro Minato & Sophie Houdart from Centre for Digital Cultures on Vimeo.