24th Art Division Critiques

Cultural Amnesia and Self-expression of Media

My final year as a jury member gave me time to reflect on not only the past few years, but my journey within Media Art which started around the same time the Japan Media Arts Festival began. Twenty-four years are roughly one generation for media artists, which may as well be seen as one epoch in the history of media art. I am curious to observe how the field of media art changed and evolved, how the artists are engaging and applying emerging media to their work, and how institutions and festivals reflect and present these changes. Media art itself can mean different things to different artists, curators, cultural workers and the public. Artists are engaged in basic artistic research by understanding, and therefore controlling the technological possibilities of emerging media, whilst envisioning unexpected and unforeseen uses and situations. The goal should not be self-expression of the artist, but an expression of the media mediated by the artist. The role of the artists should be to form an avantgarde, and to work on the cutting edge of research into society and technology. Because of the number of students who go through media art education every year, many works are built on similar premises, social observations, and technical skills--producing a Cultural Amnesia. Judging media art works involves the creation of subjective ranking, comparison of divergent works, and also reduction and digestion of the work. Only so is it possible to not only watch, but also hopefully understand the works. I am aware that some works require involvement and engagement and participation that is not feasible in a judging context. In these cases, the ingenuity and creativity of the artist to summarize and present the work is called for: What is the concept and form of the work? How innovative and interesting are the technical aspects of the work handled? How does the work engage with wider social issues and current societal situations? I am very honored to have been asked to serve as a jury member for the Art Division at the Japan Media Arts Festival for the last three years--I was happy to gain insight into a large number of works, and will also miss the exchanges, discussions and arguments with my fellow judges. I am very much looking forward to seeing how the wider media art scene, my personal work, and the Japan Media Arts Festival will evolve and look like in another generation.

Artist and Researcher
Born in Burgenland, Austria in 1977. He earned a master's degree in media art from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and a master's degree in interaction design from the Royal College of Art. In 2005, Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara formed BCL, an artistic research framework, in London. He works out of Tokyo, where he mainly explores the impact of biotechnology development and water problems on society, and how our consciousness is reflected in natural, social and cultural environments. He also continues to work on activities outside the fields of science, art, and design. His mission is to use social hacking and other projects to break into closed technologies and monopolized markets to open them up to everyone. Tremmel currently works as a researcher in the Laboratory for DNA Information Analysis at the Human Genome Center at the University of Tokyo Institute of Medical Science, and as a visiting researcher at metaPhorest, a life aesthetic platform at the Hideo Iwasaki Lab at the Waseda University Faculty of Science and Engineering. He is the program director of BioClub, a platform to practice and discuss the potential of biotechnology.