15th Art Division Critiques
Advances in technology open new worlds
Frankly speaking, the quality of entries this year was generally high.
One of the issues facing media arts as a whole is the patterning of expression caused by the popularization of simple interactivity and the tools and technology that make it possible. To rise above this context and achieve a measure of quality, the work itself must have a depth that calls into question the meaning of the expression lest it risk ending up just another catalyst for déjà vu. In this sense, there is a trend toward fewer works that emphasize unduly superficial communication or interactivity. On the other hand, there has been an increase in works utilizing this depth as a component, condensing it within the content of their videos. One of the technological characteristics of media art is the intrinsic freedom of expressiveness permitted by random access. Yet this also makes it difficult to confer depth in every choice. Are artists simply unable to take it any more? Or perhaps the robust character of video and other sequential content simply makes it too easy to grasp what an expression intends. Still, while all video work is clearly not media art, the line of separation is a fuzzy one.
Que voz feio (plain voices), winner of this year's Grand Prize, employs dual images as a structural conceit for conveying its storyline. In using this new technique of media expression it qualifies as media art, and its storyline expresses a repeatedly overlapping duality. In particles, a luminescent sphere circulates casually as if this was an ordinary phenomenon, but a close look reveals movements and interrelationships that are carefully constructed and finely calculated. Had this element of calculation been more compelling, it would probably have taken the Grand Prize. HIMATSUBUSHI (Killing Time) became a kind of symbolic mascot for the jury. Something about it arouses a sentimental Japanese urge to see the utterly everyday as somehow lovely. I didn't sense the gravity of art, but there was certainly something there by way of cinematic entertainment, although the creator might object to my use of the term.