Visions for a Future Society for Our Lives: Part II
With less than 1,000 days until the opening of Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, themed “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”, this second part of the Vision for a Future Society series looks at the people and the ideas behind the next World Expo’s Signature Pavilions. After July’s instalment, discover this month the future visions of Shoji Kawamori (Totality of Life), Kundo Koyama (Cycle of Lives), Sachiko Nakajima (Invigorating Lives), and Hiroaki Miyata (Resonance of Lives).
Influenced by the impact of Expo 1970 Osaka while in primary school, animation director and mechanic designer Shoji Kawamori creates original concepts, stories, mechanical designs and direct animation, with franchises such as Macross and Aquarion to his name. After being connected with Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai as a result of a speech given at a JAXA conference, Kawamori is thrilled to share larger-than-life dreams and visions via the Totality of Life project and the Live Earth Journey pavilion that encapsulates it.
Shoji Kawamori: While modern society's rapid achievements have improved living standards and convenience through advances in technology, it also has many setbacks, such as global warming, damage to the ecosystem, etc.
I think that many of these problems derive from a human-centered way of thinking that only benefits us humans living on this planet. As a result, when planning for the Expo, I chose to make a paradigm shift away from that mindset to a more life-centered way of thinking, encompassing every form of life on the planet. This is how I came up with the Totality of Life concept.
I also wanted to take another look at the essence and splendour of our existence today, as any future society is being made as of this moment. We need to think about the various forms of life that are living at the exact same moment within this vast space that has been existing for an eternity.
By doing so, I wanted to portray how miraculous and wonderful it is being alive this very second. By experiencing the miracle of life itself, I hope this can become a chance to help grow a future which values every living being.
"In the Live Earth Journey, the audience will be able to realize that a numerous number of lives are connected together to form the Earth's ecosystem"
Shoji Kawamori: First, in the ‘The Window of Life’ exhibit, visitors will be able to see in real-time the Earth's animals, plants, etc., all in various places such as the African savannah, tropical jungles, or in coral reefs. This will convey the feeling of reality that many various living beings are co-existing on this planet. It will also portray how plants wither, decay and are decomposed by microbes, evoking the concept of "death" (often disregarded in modern society), and how it is passed on to a micro-sized ecosystem of life forms.
State-of-the-art XR technology will be used to experience the grandeur of the circle of life in the ‘Spectacle Theater of Life’. For example, by borrowing the points of view of various forms of life; such as insects and animals, the audience will be able to experience the food chain, and learn how intestinal bacteria in the human body works. Here, the circle of life plays out on an earthly scale, and various life activities can be experienced from different perspectives.
From macro to micro, the audience will be able to realize that a numerous number of lives are connected together to form the Earth's ecosystem, and thus feel the Totality of Life.
Broadcast writer and scriptwriter Kundo Koyama, who is Vice President of Kyoto University of the Arts, has created a number of well-known Japanese TV shows, including “Humiliation of Canossa”, “Iron Chef”, “Tokyo Wonder Hotel” and “New Design Paradise”. Having long been involved in projects relating to food, he wants to use the Cycle of Lives project at Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai to explore and propose new ways of eating to improve the global environment.
Kundo Koyama: Eating is one of our most familiar contact points with the natural environment and an essential activity for everyone on the planet. We are living in this large-scale circle of life by consuming resources (life). I expect each one of us to face and think about how we eat under these circumstances and to raise awareness as members of this ecosystem through Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, and hope that this notion will become part of our common understanding in the near future.
"Through Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, I expect each one of us to think about how we eat"
Kundo Koyama: I hope that the term, Itadakimasu (a term said before eating a meal that expresses the understanding of the sacrifice of plant/animal life that has made the meal possible) and its essential meaning will be re-evaluated through this pavilion. In addition, I hope that by deliberately setting our threshold for happiness lower - especially among wealthier nations - we will feel more grateful for what we have in terms of simple happiness and value.
As a jazz pianist, mathematician, STEAM educator, media artist, and the CEO of steAm Inc., Sachiko Nakajima believes in the importance of creativity in life, and is passionate about each life having more joy and confidence through co-creation. In charge of the Playground of Life - Jellyfish pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, she wants to awaken potential creativity for people of all ages at the Expo. STEAM = STEM + Arts is the educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding people’s inquiries, dialogue, and critical thinking.
Sachiko Nakajima: Today, the spectrum of creativity and uncertainty about the future coexist at the same time. In this age, I believe that “STEAM” is a beneficial tool for people to achieve self-liberation. Everyone, no matter what their profession, can think like a scientist or a mathematician, and create like an artist or an engineer through playful exploration.
Each one of us can create the future and change the world. Such a playful mindset and belief drive our work. The best of each type of expertise can be combined with technological innovation and primitive physical senses. In addition, to achieve self-liberation, we need to construct the co-creative and sustainable STEAM ecosystem across society as part of the journey toward 2025.
"Each one of us can create the future and change the world"
Sachiko Nakajima: The co-creative STEAM playground for visitors will provide interactive ‘instruments’ or physical experiences that will stimulate all five senses, awakening the inner self and joy of life.
Together with the co-creative architect Tetsuo Kobori, and our advanced interdisciplinary team, the Playground of Life - Jellyfish Pavilion will have an open play mountain, a half-outdoor park hill of workshops, with STEAM play-tools and the “Tree of (collective) Creativity” in the centre. The Jellyfish name of the pavilion came about as we thought that the fluttering asobi (play, blank space) is necessary in creativity and life. Our pavilion represents a half-transparent living primitive creature where people from outside can feel and experience the many priceless lives of “people or things” from within the pavilion.
On the first floor, visitors will be able to find the space of playful inventions by “children” aged 0-120-years. In the future music playground and the theatre of five senses, anyone can become an artist or a musician and the collective tribal sound from all over the world will ‘symphonize’ together. With the concept of “Invigorating Lives” and “Playful Lives”, the pavilion will grow throughout the Expo.
As part of the journey toward 2025, the ‘Future Earth School’ - a STEAM-inclusive project connecting schools, museums, libraries and hospitals around the world - is contributing to building a co-creative sustainable social ecosystem beyond any boundaries, to revolutionise ‘learning’ around the world.
After the Expo, these social movements and winds will continue to blow, while the parts of our Jellyfish Pavilion are set to go to various ‘schools’ and have another life, whether as chairs or play-tools for people of all ages, as a legacy of Expo 2025.
Hiroaki Miyata is a Professor at Keio University who is engaged in presenting and practicing a vision of a future society that goes beyond the scope of medicine, spanning multiple fields such as community design and social system reform. Focused on improving lives through research-focused activities and data science, he sees the Resonance of Lives project at Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai as an opportunity for people to ask questions about future society, notably after the changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hiroaki Miyata: We are currently in the middle of the digital revolution. Until now, the connection between economic activities and the future of people, let alone the future of the world, has been invisible, but the digital world has begun to play a role in connecting each person's well-being and sustainability (that is, the future of the world). Also, unlike resources such as oil and coal, which had to be exclusively owned and competed for, digital resources such as data can often be shared.
With new "connections" and "sharing", we should be able to go deeper and co-create society with the feeling that the future is connected. The fact that each and every one of us lives in the coming future society will lead to the co-creation of diverse affluence, in harmony with a sustainable future.
"Better Co-being is the action of creating the future together in the harmony of sustainability and well-being"
Hiroaki Miyata: Sustainability was a key topic and subtheme of Expo 2020 Dubai. This trend symbolises a major turning point in the world over the last few years. When I participated in a dialogue as part of the Expo, the question was "How to balance sustainability with the future of each person".
The theme of the pavilion of the Resonance of Lives project, "Better Co-being," is a vector that unravels “Well-Being” and changes “Well” to “Better” as a vector toward the future, and changes “Being” to “Co-being” in the sense of “together”. In other words, the action of creating the future together in the harmony of sustainability and well-being is "Better Co-being".
The Co-being pavilion provides an experience for visitors to create the future together. By placing a forest in the centre, we welcome plants as guests and connect them – and people – digitally. By doing so, visitors can experience the mechanism of resonance not only as an individual but also as a colony, as a microcosm of the world, an analogy of the earth.
Since the Industrial Revolution, people have created a social system by contributing to economic rationality like gears. From now on, each person's life, way of life (to live), and important things must come first, and then resonate with the desire to include plants, animals, and the global environment. Our lives and actions are by no means powerless to the future of the world. I want visitors to realise that through their experience at the Co-being pavilion.