February 26,2020

“Art, Science and the Lab” (Seventh Anniversary Message)

Already seven years have passed since our start-up of “Artience Lab”, a company to carry out wide development of technology focused on the hologram and aiming at its commercialization. This is to take this opportunity to once again put down our spirit embodied in our company’s name.

“ARTIENCE” is our coinage combining the words ART and SCIENCE. Ever since my student days I have been interested in art as well as in technology, and have put myself in a realm that somehow touches both. I spent time during college on producing music such as in a band with friends while studying in the engineering faculty. Upon joining Sony after graduation, I learned of the importance not only of technology but also of the contents under the watchword “hardware and software: the two wheels of a cart”. I was stimulated by many encounters with artists who were studying technology as a means of expression rather than as pure research during my term as a Visiting Researcher at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab.

There at MIT it was my fate to come across the hologram, and this technology that can display 3D images using light diffraction phenomena and control light with a thin film, despite its many possibilities, is sadly yet limited in its exploitation in industrial application. The term ‘hologram’ has even come to be often used as a misnomer for just a simple aerial projection image.

Our challenge is to create industrial hologram technologies and to continue its ongoing development.

The hologram is “deep”..... not just because it can display in 3D. The more one learns about it the more one appreciates its potential. For commercial application it must be easy for anyone to use, and its realization requires deep and wide understanding such as of the physics, chemistry, electrical and mechanical engineering aspects. My supervisor at MIT, the late Dr. Stephen A. Benton, told me “it would take at least three years to truly understand the hologram”. I have been involved with it now for just about three decades. And still it cannot be said that it is truly understood, in my case simply because I am not smart enough, and every day brings a new discovery.

Thirty years ago, there were environments such as in colleges of art to learn about the hologram as art, but I understand that these are unfortunately almost non-existent today. Without the continued development of the whole field in industry, risks will emerge of discontinued supply of necessary material for holographic recording or of a break in the handing down of the technology and knowhow. It would be a pity to let the valuable fruits of the art and science gained with so much effort go to waste. I believe the creation of an industrial line is essential to an improvement in this condition.

“Lab” at the end of the company name embodies the meaning of a workshop for the development of technologies for creating a new industrial line. The seeds of technology in the drawer are brought together with what lies ahead of the customer’s request, to carry out trials and errors toward commercialization. At first, try by doing something; usually it doesn’t work as intended ? but once in a while it does ..... going through cycles of disappointment, discovery, excitement, and rush of new ideas, and the list of todo’s keeps growing. Being involved in this activity sometimes feels like actually the approach and process both in the pursuit of art and in the development of technology are alike. And, sometimes there is an experience of the effectiveness of just believing in one’s sense to dig deeply and reach completion, when theoretical analysis of the technology hits an impasse. Once again, there is a sense of the meaning of the haply inclusion of both “art” and “science” in the company name, a kind of invisible “qi (life spirit)”.

Although our activity in the last seven years cannot be said to have progressed entirely as hoped, these days are bringing a real sense that the fields and potential for exploiting the hologram are expanding ..... and we intend to continue redoubling our efforts toward the realization of the dream embodied in the company name not only to combine art and technology but also to in this way give birth to a new industrial line. We do look forward to your continued guidance and encouragement.

Akira Shirakura
Artience Lab Inc.