Hiroshi Kawano – Biography

A white wall: on the left, a portrait of Hiroshi Kawano left, on the right, his resume

April 14, 1925

is born in Fushun, China, to Japanese parents
1935Moves to Japan (Kagoshima Prefecture)
1948–1951Studies philosophy and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo, Japan. His professor of aesthetics is Toshio Takeuchi.
1950/1951While working on his diploma thesis Kawano discovers the Neo-Kantianism of the Freiburg School: the writings of Heinrich Rickert and Lenore Kühn.
1951He graduates in philosophy with a thesis on aesthetics as a theory of aisthesis.
1951–1955Graduate student at the University of Tokyo (major subject: aesthetics, minor subject: philosophy of science)
1954Marries Taeko Unoki
1955–1961Research assistant of Professor Toshio Takeuchi at the Department of Aesthetics at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo
1956Kawano discovers semiotics through Max Rieser’s article “The Semantic Theory of Art in America” in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (September 1965).
1959Susanne K. Langer’s Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art (1942) initiates Kawano to explore the field of symoblic logic.
ca. 1960In 1961 at the latest, Kawano discovers Max Bense’s Aesthetica series: Aesthetica I. Metaphysische Beobachtungen am Schönen [Metaphysical Observations of Beauty] (1954), Aesthetica II. Ästhetische Information [Aesthetic Information] (1956), Aesthetica III. Ästhetik und Zivilisation [Aesthetics and Civilization] (1958), and Aesthetica IV. Programmierung des Schönen [Programming of Beauty] (1960).
1961–1970Lecturer in the Faculty of Art at Nihon University, Tokyo
1961–1972Lecturer and associate professor at the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Air-Technology. He teaches philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics.
1962He publishes a study on information aesthetics:
美学的情報理論の一考察 [An Inquiry into Aesthetic Information Theory], in: 都立航空工業短期大学研究紀要 第1集 [Memoirs of Tokyo Metropolitan College of Air-Technology No. 1], 1962, pp. 75–85.
1963He publishes his first article mentioning the possibility of using computers for aesthetics: 言語分析と情報理論:科学美学の方法に関する試論 [Linguistic Analysis and Information Theory: An Essay on the Methodology of Scientific Aesthetics], in: 都立航空工業短期大学研究紀要 第2集 [Memoirs of Tokyo Metropolitan College of Air-Technology No. 2], 1963, pp. 85–96.
Autumn 1963He starts to teach himself how to program computers and writes his first programs for the OKITAC 5090A computer.
Spring 1964Kawano is granted access to an OKITAC 5090A at the Computer Center of the University of Tokyo and realizes his first examples of computer-generated images.
September 1964Hiroshi Kawano publishes in the Japanese IBM Review an article showing examples of computer-generated graphics: 電子計算機とデザイン [Electronic Computer and Design], in: IBM Review, 6, September 1964, pp. 53–57.
Januar 1966Shigeru Watanabe, professor at the Department of Engineering, University of Tokyo, invites Hiroshi Kawano to participate in the meetings of his research group Computer-Based Art (CBA) to discuss the possibilities of computer-generated poetry. Using an algorithm by Kawano, a series of tankas, Japanese short poems, are generated.
1967Kawano publishes an article on the application of computer technology to poetry: 短歌の分析と生成 [The Analysis and Generation of TANKA (Japanese 31 Syllable Poem)], in: 都立航空工業短期大学研究紀要 第6集 [Memoirsof Tokyo Metropolitan College of Air-Technology No. 6], 1967, pp. 105–114.
1967Max Bense visits Japan and lectures in Sendai, Hirosaki, and Tokyo. Kawano meets Bense on the occasion of his presentation at Waseda University, Tokyo.
1967Hiroshi Kawano publishes his first book: 美学[Aesthetics].
1968Kawano participates in the exhibition of the first Japanese computer art contest initiated by Shigeru Watanabe that takes place at the Sankei Building in Tokyo.
1968Kawano participates in the information exhibition accompanying the colloquy tendencies 4. “Computers and Visual Research” at the Center for Culture and Information in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
1969Participates in the exhibition tendencies 4. computers and visual research, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb.
1970Solo exhibition at the Plaza DIC Tokyo under the title コンピューター・アート/ Computer Art. He is supported by the designer Mitsuo Katsui and his long-term collaborator Chihaya Shimomura, then lecturer at Musashino Art University.
May 1970Kawano publishes his first article on Noam Chomsky and his theory of generative grammar: 情報処理技術としての芸術 [Art as Information Processing Technology], in: 思想 [Shisou], 551, May 1970, pp. 68–81.
1971Kawano participates in the conference “Art and Computers 71” in Zagreb. Here he discusses for the first time PDL (Picture Description Language).
1972Kawano publishes the lecture “Computer Art and Picture Language,” in: 都立航空工業短期大学研究紀要 第11集 [Memoirs of Tokyo Metropolitan College of Air-Technology No. 11], March 1972, pp. 97–101.
1972The Montreal-based artist, curator, and gallery owner Gilles Gheerbrant publishes a collection of silk screens with the title Art Ex Machina. It includes Red Tree by Hiroshi Kawano.
1972–1988Professor of Science of Art, Information Science, and Computer Programming at the Metropolitan College of Technology in Tokyo
1976Kawano publishes on the application of computers to music: 音楽計算機の楽曲処理システム [Analysis-Composition-Performance System of Music Computer], in: 航空工業短期大学研究紀要 [Memoirs of the Metropolitan College of Technology No. 4], March 1976, pp. 105–118.
With Toshio Isobe, chief researcher at the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, Kawano develops a computing system for the generation of music.
November 1978
Kawano visits the LOGO Group at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for three months. He studies LOGO programming and enquires into its possibilities for graphics and artificial intelligence. There he meets Marvin L. Minsky and Seymour A. Papert.
1984He publishes the book コンピュータと美学:人工知能の芸術を探る [Computer and Aesthetics: Searching for the Art of Artificial Intelligence] and submits it to Osaka University as a PhD thesis.
1986Kawano receives his PhD from Osaka University.
1986–1990Professor of Science of Art, Information Science, and Computer Graphics at the Metropolitan Institute of Technology, Tokyo
1990–1994Professor of Information Science and Computer Programming at Nagano University

Professor of Information Science and Computer Graphics at the Tohoku University of Art and Design

1995–2001Lecturer for aesthetics at the Department of Philosophy, Nihon University
1997–2001Visiting Professor of Information Science and Computer Graphics at Tama Art University
2001–2006Lecturer in philosophy at the graduate school of the Department of Philosophy, Nihon University
2006Kawano organizes the exhibition 20th Century Computer Art: Beginnings and Developments. The Work and Thought of Pioneers and Contemporary Practitioners of Algorithmic Art at the Tama Art University.
Januar 2010Hiroshi Kawano donates his archive to ZKM | Karlsruhe.


– Text: Margit Rosen