Themed on a fusion of technology and Japanese folk belief, the “Digital Shamanism” exhibition showcases ICHIHARA Etsuko’s “Digital Shaman Project” and the “NAMAHAGE in Tokyo” cooperative project with ISID Open Innovation Laboratory.
The “Digital Shaman Project” revolves around robots for domestic use wearing 3D-printed faces of deceased people, and manipulated with specially developed programs to imitate those people’s speech, behavior and other physical characteristics. The idea behind this is to propose a new form of funeral in which robots spend 49 days* after a person’s death with the members of his or her family. While the realm of alchemy and belief appears to be conflicting with that of science and technology, considering the common disposition of assuming and suggesting “something that is not here,” ICHIHARA proposes that both might in fact be very closely related, mutually compatible fields. Based on this idea, this project was conceived with the aim to propose new forms of prayer and entombment in this age of advanced science and technology.
“NAMAHAGE in Tokyo” is an attempt to reinterpret the functions of the traditional Namahage events—e.g. the maintenance of settlements through mutual monitoring, the initiation of children to adulthood, and the strengthening of family ties—that have been celebrated for over two hundred years in Oga City, Akita Prefecture, and implement these in the city, based on data accumulated through mutual monitoring via social media, and surveillance networks in the streets.
*According to Buddhist belief, it takes 49 days for a deceased person to enter the next life.