Itsuo Sakane ’71

After a long career as a journalist, Sakane organized a number of exhibits about science and art and became president of the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Japan

When I became a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1970, I was a staff writer for the The Asahi Shimbun’s science section. Yet I was also interested in the relationship between science and art. At Harvard, I took two courses related to this interest: Communication in Society, organized by professor Tony Oettinger and Bill Bossert with five teaching fellows, and a graduate seminar, Perception and Pictures, taught by John M. Kennedy.

With Communication in Society, the subject changed for each class, from animal communication to the language of wine tasting. It broadened my outlook.

In Perception and Pictures, also attended by famed Harvard psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, I was inspired to reconsider the overlap between science and art.

At MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, I learned from its founder, Gyorgy Kepes. I also visited museums featuring exhibits that spoke to my interests. When I returned to Japan, I wrote a column, called the Museum of Fun, in the home section of The Asahi Shimbun. The columns were collected in “The Museum of Fun Book,” and I organized a series of traveling exhibits on the same theme.

After retiring from the newspaper in 1990, I became a professor at Keio University and helped found the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences. My Nieman year certainly had a profound effect on the direction of my career.