Transcending national boundaries,
the Japan Foundation Asia Center carries out
cultural exchange programs to build up heart-to-heart
relationships between people and enrich the future of Asia.


Media Art Initiative "ref:now-toward a new media culture in asia"

Singapore, Japan

As the development of information society transforms the nature of the subject, its relationship with the other, and the means of sharing ideas and technology among one another, what cultural models can creativity, generated by digital technology, shape for the future? Ref:now—toward a new media culture in asia aspires to comprehensively understand contemporary creativity related to media culture through the frameworks of art, dialogue, education, and collaboration.

In the network society-fully saturated with media technology where instantaneous connectivity with multiple others is made possible—imaginations that exceed spatiotemporal limitations and formulaic schemes of cultural fields emerge. Simultaneously, however, in such a society, there also exist imaginations that are rooted in individual, personal experiences and realities. In these new communities and movements formed by networks and artistic expressions that use technology as both their motifs and techniques— a display of their criticality against the medium itself—we can find clues to understand the social complexities and the information environments that surround us, as well as how to share individual identity and regionally specific cultures.

Focusing on the creative scenes in Asia that will surely continue to develop in exciting ways, ref:now, consisting of exhibitions, workshops, symposia, and performances, promotes exchange and collaboration among the next generation of Asian talent. By examining the new creativity that is dislodging modernistic conceptions of art, this initiative sets out to "reference" the "now" of our ever-changing globalized society.

This project in FY2017 ,  FY2018 and FY2019  is certified as beyond 2020 program.

Projects in FY2016

"Make & Play! Slime Synthesizer Sinfonia" & "Make & Play! Catch the Sound of Singapore"

A photo of the Workshop
A photo of the Workshop

This workshop, held during the 2016 Maker Faire Singapore, was led by two artists whose practices in auditory expressions are unbound by conventional tools and means. Inventing original instruments and exploring new forms of sonic experiences, the artists shared their DIY, creative expressions with the participants, inviting them to create their own musical devices.

  • Dates: June 25 - 26, 2016
  • Venue: Maker Faire Singapore 2016 (Singapore University of Technology and Design [SUTD] )
Make & Play! Slime Synthesizer Sinfonia
Make & Play! Catch the Sound of Singapore

International Symposium for Media Art
Art & Technology: Changing Times, Contemporary Trends, Future Platforms

A photo of the Symposium for Media Art
Photo: Kenichi Aikawa

Co-organized with the Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), this international symposium introduced historical shifts in media art and case studies of contemporary practices. A wide-ranging lineup of guest speakers re-examined the relationship between art and technology, exploring new cultural and artistic platforms linking the present with the future, society with art, and the individual with the public.

Event page:

  • Date & Time: July 9, 2016 13:00–18:00
  • Venue: NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] (
  • Panelists:
    • Minoru Hatanaka (Chief Curator, NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC])
    • Yvonne Spielmann (New Media Researcher)
    • Daito Manabe (Artist / Rhizomatiks)
    • Andreas Siagian (Artist, Engineer / Lifepatch)
    • Jeffrey Shaw (Artist / Director, Centre for Applied Computing and Interactive Media [ACIM], City University of Hong Kong)
    • Kazunao Abe (Deputy Director, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM])
  • Organizers:
  • Symposium PDF Report (1.2 M.B.)

Hack the World with Creativity Utilizing Democratized Technologies

A photo of the Workshop
Photo: Shunsuke Takawo

Co-organized with the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS), this weeklong intensive workshop featured thirteen participants from ten countries. Designed around the theme of technology and creativity, participants acquired new skills, taking part in fieldwork and group activities. The workshop formed an opportunity to develop a network among the next generation of digital-creative talent and also for participants to build mutual understanding of each other's local regions and communities, and share awareness of the problems and challenges they face.

Music Showcase: Neo Asian Pop Showcase /
Talk Event: Liquid Asian Pop Scene

This live music event showcased the diverse pop culture of Asia with guest artists from Japan, the Philippines, and the United States. The event also included a talk introducing each region's music scene and community as well as their relationship with netlabels.

Event page:

A photo of the Music Showcase
Music Showcase: Neo Asian Pop Showcase
  • Date & Time: October 9, 2017 15:30–16:30
  • Venue: "The Creators" Fukuoka City Hall
  • Performers:
    • Meishi Smile (Musician / Head of Zoom Lens)
    • Moon Mask (fka Ulzzang Pistol) (Musician)
    • TORIENA (Sound artist / Head of MADMILKY RECORDS)
Talk Event: Liquid Asian Pop Scene—Japan, the Philippines, and America: The Drifting Currents of Asian Pop Culture
A photo of the Talk Event
Photo: Miyu Terasawa
  • Date & Time: October 15. 2016
  • Venue: 3331 Arts Chiyoda (
  • Guest Speakers:
    • tomad (Organizer, DJ / Head of Maltine Records)
    • tofubeats (Track maker, DJ)
    • Meishi Smile (Musician / Head of Zoom Lens)
    • Moon Mask (fka Ulzzang Pistol) (Musician)

'Media Conscious' in Asia: Lifepatch Rumah (House) and Halaman (Yard)

A photo of the exhibit

Co-organized with NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], this exhibition examined the cultures in Indonesian communities and applications of technology through the work of the Yogyakarta-based collective Lifepatch, as a part of the exhibition Open Space 2016: Media Conscious. Workshops and talks were held with a range of guests during the exhibition period.

Event page:

  • Exhibition Period: November 1, 2016–March 12, 2017
  • Venue: NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] (
  • Organizers:
    • The Japan Foundation Asia Center
    • NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC]