The 2019 Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony and lectures

  The 2019 Kyoto Prize Presentation ceremony and lectures

The 2019 Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony and lectures

The three 2019 Kyoto Prize Laureates chemist Ching W Tang (Advanced Technology), astrophysicist James Gunn (Basic Sciences), and theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine (Arts and Philosophy) convened last week in Kyoto, Japan for the 35th Kyoto Prize.

The official presentation ceremony took place at the at the Kyoto International Conference Center and saw the three laureates officially receive the Kyoto Prize, in the form of the diploma and medal, in the presence of Princess Takamado and over one thousand guests, including representatives from the political, diplomatic, business and cultural sectors, as well as from the academic world.

The following day, the three Laureates each presented their Commemorative Lectures. The lectures represent an opportunity for the Laureates to talk about their life stories, reflecting on the decisions they made and people they met on their paths.

Ching W Tang’s lecture, “Evolution of OLED display technology”, explored his career as a researcher for Kodak, when he was hired by Kodak to develop solar cells that would convert light into electricity efficiently and ended up doing the opposite, converting electricity to light. The organic light emitting diode (OLED) is what allowed display technology to progress and be widely commercialised.

Developing the technologies needed to undertake large-scale, wide-field observation of the cosmos is the achievement at the heart of James Gunn’s work. He produced a three-dimensional digital cosmic map via the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) project. In his lecture, “Understanding the universe and the things that live in it through astronomical surveys”, Dr Gunn explained how he conceived and designed the 2.5m wide-field telescope and how the mapping work continues up to this day.

Ariane Mnouchkine founded the Théâtre du Soleil in 1964. The hierarchy-free organisation, based on the strong belief that theatre is a form of art that should be perceived, created and enjoyed collaboratively, has produced internationally acclaimed masterpieces for over half a century. “Saviez-vous vraiment á qui vous décerniez ce prix?” (“Did you really know to whom you have awarded this prize?”) was more like a dramatic monologue than a lecture, in which Mnouchkine asked questions about her identity, her past, her values and highlighted all the people, past and present, who make up the Théâtre du Soleil.

The Kyoto Prize at Oxford team also had the opportunity to attend the Art and Philosophy workshop at Tokyo’s Waseda University. A conversation between Laureate Ariane Mnouchkine, academics Shintaro Fujii and Patrick de Vos, and theatre director Satoshi Miyagi touched upon wide-ranging and thought-provoking topics – from public funding to the arts sector and the current state of politics in the world, to young people’s aspirations and collaboration across generations.


Photo courtesy of the Inamori Foundation.