20th Art Division Critiques
A Progress Report on My Criticism of “Media Arts”
Let me begin with a word to those who did not get selected, or who did not win the award they had hoped for: Do not be overly discouraged, and do not do anything rash with the work you submitted. It's said that Paul CÉZANNE was rejected by the Paris Salon every year and even complained to the chief judge about it.It should be noted that there was an important change in the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival: The phrase "Works of art created with new media and digital technologies" disappeared from the entry guidelines. The guidelines for the Art Division in the last festival (19th JMAF) began with that phrase, then followed it parenthetically with "Interactive art, media installations, video works, video installations, graphic art (digital illustrations, digital photographs, computer graphics, etc.), Internet art, media performances, etc." The guidelines this time removed the initial phrase, and brought the former parenthetical content to the fore. Much the same change took place in the Entertainment Division.This reflects the fact that stipulating "digital technologies" no longer has any real meaning, and it is also perhaps a response to my criticism last time that the stipulation undesirably results in eliminating all art that does not use digital technologies. It does not, however, reflect the suggestion made during an exchange in the Art Division Dialogue that the festival should clarify what it thinks "media art" is.But to my mind, by awarding the Grand Prize to Ralf BAECKER's Interface I, the jurors have been able to send a message to the festival to that effect. This installation, which focuses on ends rather than means, concisely and directly demonstrates the essence of "media art." Meanwhile, the four works chosen for Excellence Awards were recognized for their high quality under a kind of self-evident standard of purposive expression. At the same time, I'm pleased that we don't need to argue about digital technology in connection with the bio-art work The Living Language Project.To ask what "media art" is should ultimately lead to asking what "Art" with a capital A is, which has never been self-evident. That's what I would like to see happen.