Highlighting Collective Movements




​​​​METACITY is a research team that explores the form of a “possible city” through thought experiments and prototyping. The team’s vision raises an awareness of the fact that Japan’s regional cities are becoming degraded copies of Tokyo, where the priority on economic rationality has bleached out the unique culture of the regions. By working with artists and researchers who have not been involved in urban design and management before, they are engaged in a wide range of activities to transform the nature of cities through the process of rethinking issues from a dimension different from that of the existing framework.

Currently, the team is working on collaborative projects with an art collective creating an alternative tea ceremony, The TEA-ROOM, Wired Japan, the volunteer engineering group Dream On, the 4D fabrication lab TANAKA Hiroya Laboratory, and the MIT Media Lab City Science research group, which seeks sustainable solutions for future cities. METACITY is a group of 40 members including artists, researchers and engineers.


Image by Ouchhh

METACITY CONFERENCE 2019 was held as a kick-off event for METACITY (January). The event brought together the former mayor of Chiba City, the editor-in-chief of Wired, bio-artists, tea masters, architects, curators, cemetery designers, monks, entrepreneurs and researchers to discuss “a possible city.” This event will lead to the launch of five projects that are currently in operation.


Launched the art project Exhibition Celebrating the Establishment of a Fictional City - Makuhari City to prototype a city using the non-existent administrative district Makuhari City as a motif (December 2020–January 2021). The project involved the development of technology necessary for a voting system and autonomous decentralized governance that does not rely on majority rule alone, as well as experiments in the creation of science fiction novels and sound art. The photo shows a unique light sculpture created by projecting 16 of the world's largest moving lights onto a 150-meter-long building, created to commemorate the establishment of Makuhari City.


Photo by ART for SDGs

BioSculpture, a collaborative research project with the TANAKA Hiroya Laboratory at Keio University SFC, was exhibited at ART for SDGs, an international art festival organized by the city of Kitakyushu and directed by curator NANJO Fumio (April–May). Using the world’s largest 3D printers, the project developed 3D printed works of ecosystems.

Ripples MATSUDA Masahide, ©︎ The Exhibition of Jack into the Noösphere, Photo by Yusuke Tsuchida

The art project Jack into the Noösphere was held with the tea ceremony art group The TEA-ROOM to explore the form of the tea ceremony in modern times on an urban scale (July–August). As a part of the programs implemented in Chiba City’s first art festival, The Chiba City Festival of Arts, the artworks were exhibited in a Japanese garden at night in analogy to the process of tea ceremony. A wide variety of fields and many artists participated, including works by 14 groups of contemporary artists, sound artists, video artists, architects, researchers and science fiction writers.

Director’s comment

​​Are we ready to replace the operating system (OS) of our society? METACITY, led by AOKI Ryuta, is a collective of diverse experts and artists. By prototyping the speculative future they envision in the form of media art, they work with the government to create a vision for the next social structure, or operating system, of society. The driving force behind this is a science-fiction imagination based on the scale of the city and a long-term perspective. One of the activities of METACITY is to create an imaginary special zone in Chiba City, the setting of William GIBSON’s Neuromancer, and to operate a number of experiments. Stakeholders, from citizens to local government heads, who are exposed to their experiments and expressions can contribute their own visions for a desirable future. (TOMURA Asako)

AOKI Ryuta

AOKI Ryuta

Concept Designer/Social Sculptor
​​Founder & CEO of VOLOCITEE Inc.

Director of ALIFE Lab.

Director of METACITY

​​Interested in the invisible structures and fictional mechanisms that give rise to new concepts, AOKI is active in producing projects and exhibitions in the fields of art and science, and creates artworks on the theme of exploring a possible society. He is also the co-founder and director of TEDxKids@Chiyoda, Art Hack Day and the art collective The TEA-ROOM. Publications include Tsukutte-ugokasu-A Life [How to Make and Run ALife: Introduction to Artificial Life Model Theory through Coding] (O’Reilly Japan, 2018).

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