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Archival Research Center

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The Archival Research Center (Geishiken) of Kyoto City University of Arts (KCUA) came into being in 2014 as a research institute designed to facilitate artistic creation. Geishiken collects, analyzes, and makes accessible artistic resources (corpuses) as “art archives for creation,” comprising artworks, manuscripts, documents, ephemera, and so forth, produced through artistic activities in Kyoto, the city of culture and arts.

With a history and heritage of 130 years of creation since its foundation in 1880 as the Kyoto Prefectural School of Paintings, KCUA is a huge art “archives.” By exploring ways to reorganize and revitalize these artistic resources into “art archives for creation,” Geishiken aims to contribute to emerging arts, culture, and education. It functions as a place where students, artists, musicians, researchers, and citizens can meet beyond various cultural borders.

At Geishiken, we carry out Fundamental Research and Priority Research, exploring the possibilities of art archives for creation.

Fundamental Research

In Fundamental Research, we conduct 1) research on archival theory, 2) the collection and revitalization of artistic resources (corpuses), and 3) the design of archival education programs. Inviting specialists related to archives, art, and education, multiple series of lectures and seminars are held for faculty members, students, artists, and citizens to share and develop art archives and artistic creation. The outcomes of our research will be returned to society as open and accessible archives for creation, which will be a gateway to the history and contemporary activities of art. Using these archives creatively, Geishiken facilitates the capability for new artistic creation and insights.

Priority Research

Priority Research is a series of projects mainly conducted by KCUA faculty members.

【Project in progress】

Oral History (since 2014)

This project conducts, records, and examines oral history interviews with people related to art. With a chief interest in artists related to the university, this project focuses on fields such as Japanese art after WWII,the art scene in Kyoto.

Project Leaders:KAJIYA Kenji (Japanese art after WWII),MATSUO Yoshiki (the art scene in Kyoto)


Notational System Project (since 2014)

Through researching the methods of notation in Western music, Japanese traditional music and folk art, and so on, this project aims to analyze and archive various kinds of notational systems. By exploring the diversity of these systems and musical/artistic expressions, this project also re-interprets notational systems as creative devices that generate new artistic creations.

Project Leaders:TAKEUCHI Nao (notation of sound and the body),TAKAHASHI Satoru (Archipelago of the senses),TAKENOUCHI Emiko(Relationship of the musical notation and the performance method in the traditional music)

Kenkichi Tomimoto Archive/Isamu Tsujimoto Collection (since 2014)

Donated to the collection from Isamu Tsujimoto, who founded Kenkichi Tomimoto Memorial Hall, this project studies and archives the manuscripts, letters, and documents related to Kenkichi Tomimoto, a former president and the founder of the ceramics course at the Kyoto City University of Fine Arts; this was the previous body of KCUA. As the interim outcome, a book Kenkichi Tomimoto “My Ceramics Making”was published in 2019.

Project Leader:MORINO Akito

The General Foundation Practical Skills Archives (since 2014)

General Foundation Practical Skills is a mandatory class for all first-year students in the Faculty of Fine Arts, KCUA. Originally started in 1971, it is designed to nurture students’ flexible and interdisciplinary basic skills before specializing in each department, such as painting, design, crafts, and sculpture. This project documents and analyzes the challenges and achievements of this long-lasting educational experiment and develops a new perspective for art education to come.

Project Leader:INOUE Akihiko

Archives of Copying Technologies: Reproduction and Mimesis (since 2015)

Mimesis (making copies by hand), which is different from high-resolution technological reproduction, has an important role in interpreting the background of artworks through its very act and in revitalizing past techniques and materials for the future. By comparing the process of mimesis and technological reproduction and focusing on copying skills, techniques, and materials, this project explores the possibility and versatility of archives containing copying technologies.

Project Leader:Princess Akiko of Mikasa

Archiving and Revitalizing Art-Related Materials (since 2016)

This project focuses on individual artists’ archives. At present, it focuses on Morimura Yasumasa (1951-), who is known for his self-portraits, which were superimposed on historically famous paintings or on photographs of celebrities, and Inoue Takao (1940-2016), a photographer who widely took pictures of Buddhist art, the culture of Kyoto, and numerous artworks/exhibitions of various artists.

Project Leaders:KASUYA Akiko (Morimura Yasumasa archives),YAMASHITA Kohei (practical research on archiving the photographs and materials of Inoue Takao)

Kyoto Decorative Art Archives (since 2019)

The lack of future generations of artisans as a result of Japan’s aging society and low birth rate has become the most concerning issue within Kyoto’s traditional crafts industry. The purpose of this project is therefore to archive data and information about Kyoto’s traditional crafts that may be utilized by future generations of students and researchers for learning about the history of the crafts and for facilitating their research or production.

Project Leader:MAEZAKI Shinya

Archives of the Sense of Depth (since 2015)

The subject of this project is the sense of depth that we perceive from a variety of artworks, such as paintings and sculptures. The sense of depth concerns not only sight, but a kind of synesthesia of diverse information and qualities that should be deciphered in a complex manner. By examining and archiving artistic works with a strong sense of depth, this interdisciplinary research project attempts to find a way to treat this complex sense as a criterion for judging artworks more objectively.

Project Leader:NAKAHASHI Katsushige

Archiving a Collection of Japanese Art Textbook (since 2015)

The library at KCUA has held more than 1,500 textbooks about art/arts and crafts since the Meiji era. These books have been collected and donated by the KCUA Art Education Society. The collection now constitutes a significantly important historical material that carries memories of the history of art, art education, and the society of modern Japan. This project preserves these textbooks in digital archives, paving the way for future utilization.

Project Leader:YOKOTA Manabu

Digital Preservation of Analog Concert Recordings: Faculty and Graduate School of Music (since 2015)

Although KCUA has preserved precious concert recordings since the foundation of the Faculty of Music, most of them were recorded on reel-to-reel analog tape, which can be damaged over a long period. This project maintains and digitizes these analog recordings to make them accessible and to revitalize historical performances.

Project Leader:YAMAMOTO Tsuyoshi


A Case Study on the Preservation, Restoration, and Reproduction of a Contemporary Artwork:Archiving Osamu Kokufu’s Engine in the WaterReproduction Project (since 2017)

This project archives the records and materials of a reproduction project of Engine in the Water(2012) by Osamu Kokufu (alumnus of the KCUA, Faculty of Fine Arts), who passed away accidentally in 2014. It also examines a variety of questions posed by this process of reproduction, such as an issue of the identity and autonomy of an installation/dynamic artwork, and the relationship between the fundamental criticism that artwork entails and the act of reproduction.

Project Leader:TAKASHIMA Megumi

The history of Art in Kyoto:Kyoto City University of Arts in 1950s (since 2018)

This project aims to research the education curriculums of KCUA in the 1950s from an interdisciplinary perspective using art history, social history, and education history.

Project Leader:FUKAYA Michiko,KIKUKAWA Aki


Community archives of Sujin Elementary School ( since2018)

Material objects, such as houses, paths, daily goods and landscapes, are resources to recall individual and communal memories. This project explores the ways to preserve those memories in Sujin area, where things are dramatically changing preparing for the move of KCUA in 2023. Examining how to record those physical objects as memory triggers, and how to preserve the memories recalled, the project tries to organize those memories and materials as a form of digital-community archives.

Project Leader:SATO Tomohisa 

Trial of Archiving Resources of Fine Arts and Crafts (since 2019)

There is no sufficient structure to preserve and utilize tools for making fine art and craft works and the skills needed for using them, in spite of their extreme importance as artifact resources. In light of this situation, the project works in collaboration with institutions, communities, individual owners, etc., aiming to construct a system for the way document research should be and the directions for archiving and utilizing real objects.

Project Leader:HATANAKA Eiji

Baschet Sound Sculpture Project(since 2019)

Among the 17 original Baschet Sound Sculptures made for the Japan World Exposition, Osaka, 1970, the six of them have been restored. While preventing the deterioration of those sculptures the Project aims to archive their constructions and the sounds systematically, and will conducts researches into the parts that have remained unrestored. We will also explore various possibilities of new creative activities using those sculptures and the remaining pieces.

Project Leader:OKADA Kazuko


Copper plates and Copperplate Prints Archives(since 2019)

The project rescues original copper plates, which are normally discarded due to copyright issues and other factors, and archives them alongside related documents recording the technique and materials, and prints made using the plates. By doing so, the project hands down the copper printing technique, which requires high levels of technical capabilities, enables research and utilizes them as practical documents.

Project Leader:ONISHI Nobuaki


Ponder upon paints(since 2019)

Paints on the paintings are evidence of the artist’s work.

We can trace the materials and methods the artist used, as well as the intention of the expression, or social and cultural environment that he/she was in, through investigation on the paints.

This project is aiming to organize and facilitate the space and environment for further learning of the paintings. It is also hoping to establish the archive of collected data through the activities of conservation research.

Project Leader:TAKABAYASHI Hiromi

Rethinking the ability to art appreciation on the Time-Based Media(since 2019)

This project aims to develop a virtual reality (VR) simulator and a digital archives of the dumb type’s performance “pH,”in order to explore how we can maximize the potentiality of digital archiving/simulating information technologies. The simulator and archives wereoriginally constructed by the Archival Research Center during 2017-2018. By digitally modelling the movements of performers, images, sounds, and stage equipments in a three-dimensional VR simulator, the project explore the ways of archiving time-based performance using information technology, and verify the possibilities of browsing archives via VR experience.

Project Leader:SUNAYAMA Taichi


【Completed project】

Archives of Images: Research and Practice (since 2015)

Preserving the past and passing it to future generations is one of functions expected of archives. Practical research is conducted on the roles and possibilities of images—including photography—for posteriori evaluation and the revitalization of what has been left. Activities, such as workshops, are also conducted to further deepen the research.

Project Leader:HAYASHIDA Arata

Cooperating and Supporting the Preservation and Archiving of Mizunoki Works (since 2017)

This project aims to support and improve archiving a collection of drawings and paintings owned by the Mizunoki Museum of Art (Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture). The research of the Mizunoki Dormitory Painting Class and the Mizunoki Dormitory Painting Club is conducted through helping the museum organize, digitize, and store the collection.

 Project Leader:NAKAHARA Kodai

Regenerating ASILE FLOTTANT:War, Refugee, and Evacuation Seen by Le Corbusier (since 2017)

Celebrating the renovation of the Asile Flottant, a refugee ship designed by Le Corbusier, this project aims to hold an exhibition and a symposium on the theme of War, Refugee, and Evacuation Seen by Le Corbusierin Tokyo. Furthermore, an exhibition of Japanese contemporary architects will be held inside the actual Asile Flottant, which is moored on the Seine in Paris; publication of a book about the Asile Flottant will follow.

Project Leader:TATSUMI Akihisa

Oral History (since 2014~2018)

This project conducts, records, and examines oral history interviews with people related to art. With a chief interest in artists related to the university, this project focuses on fields such as Fluxus.

Project Leader:KAKINUMA Toshie (Fluxus)

Faculty Members