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15 Feb 2012 Manchester Symposium (5th to 6th January 2012) 

Title of Symposium: Risky Engagements: encounters between science, art and public health.
UK Scientific Lead: Dr Rupert Cox, Lecturer in Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester
Scientific Lead from Japan: Professor Kozo Hiramatsu, Director of JSPS London and Emeritus Professor of Kyoto University's Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies.
Period of Symposium and Location:5th and 6th January 2012
University of Manchester, UK, Whitworth gallery and School of Social Sciences.

Invited Speakers:

Takashi Miyakita, Kumamoto Gakuen University
Masami Yuki, Kanazawa University
Toshio Kuwako, Tokyo Technical University
Harutoshi Funabashi, Hosei University


Penny Harvey, University of Manchester
Andrew Irving, University of Manchester
Aya Homei, University of Manchester
Peter Cusack, University of the Arts London
John Wynne, University of the Arts London
Michael Gallagher, University of Glasgow
Griet Scheldeman, University of Lancaster


The symposium began with a public event at the Whitworth art gallery where the organisers of the symposia had created a sound-art installation titled 'Air Pressure'. This installation occupies one of the main gallery spaces and has attracted a great deal of publicity (see the links at the end of this section. The JSPS symposia event was advertised on the wall panel of the gallery for all to see and was the main public event connected to the art-exhibition. Besides the participants, approximately 50 other persons attended the public event. The event consisted of a three-way presentation by the organisers of the symposium - Cox, Hiramatsu and Carlyle, after which there questions from the public. A reception followed and then two of the UK participants in the symposia, who are sound-artists, performed a public concert of their work. This public event at the Whitworth which opened the symposia, being connected to the art-exhibition and to an open discussion and concert was an effective way of achieving 'impact.

The second day of the symposia which was the day of academic presentations, involved interesting exchanges between the artist practitioners from the UK and the environmental and health scientists from Japan. These exchanges focused on issues of methodology, epistemology, ethics and the 'public'. It was apparent that while there were distinct differences between the disciplinary backgrounds of the participants and the materials they dealt with in their work, there were also shared concerns and points of convergence. These points of convergence informed the way that we thought about the publication that will follow from the symposia and it was decided that rather than each participant present an academic paper they would rather select an item of 'evidence' that could be an image, a scientific formula, a dialogue, or perhaps the description of an incident. This evidence will be used as a point of reflection on one or two main issues. These issues were: 'Matter out of place', 'Waste Futures', 'Toxic Dialogues', 'Uncertainty', 'Conflict and Consensus', 'Contingency and Risk' and 'Process and Place'. Two participants will address each topic. I believe that working in this way, the structure as well as the content of the book will reflect an exchange of ideas and cases between Japan and the UK. It will be a creative and to a degree an open-ended exchange raising questions and provoking future dialogue and potential projects between the participants.

The book from the symposia is an important form of 'impact' and will be distributed to all the participants and to the UK JSPS office for further distribution as they see fit. Any proceeds arising from the sale of the book will go towards a fund for victims of the Tohoku disaster.

The symposia ended with a short visit to Manchester University's 'Jodrell Bank telescope', a facility which is a major means of public engagement with science in the UK. This was enjoyed and appreciated by all. - Rupert Cox, University of Manchester.

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