24th Art Division Critiques

Firsthand Experience and Media Art

It is great seeing diverse and international entries every year. Since artists put a lot of time and energy into their works, it is also true that the judging process is very exhausting every year. For this year, there was much debate over works that can't be fully understood without experiencing them in person. The Grand Prize-winning Prometheus Bound and the Excellence Award-winning Sea, See, She - To you, who is yet to come, for example, are such works that are meant to be experienced in person. I call it the "firsthand experience." The firsthand experiences contain a reality that cannot be felt through viewing videos. The "firsthand experience" has perhaps never been longed for more than it is now amid the coronavirus pandemic. Contrarily, the novel coronavirus has likely caused an increase in works that do not require firsthand experiences as well. The science and technology to accommodate such demands are being developed. Technology advancement has made CG and photography indistinguishable, stereophony more advanced, works more interactive with viewers, and has created complex virtual spaces. The expression and representations of art are also evolving. The problem is, however, that technology advancement does not necessarily mean improvement in the quality of art. The French philosopher Quentin MEILLASSOUX has been advocating "Subtraction and Contraction" for about ten years. A contracted representation means a representation that eliminates excessive components. It can be called a minimal, compressed representation. Science has pursued a contracted representation so far. Subtraction, on the other hand, forms a representation that accepts the complexity of the object as it is. A subtractive representation has an incomprehensible pit, where reality resides. I wonder if technological innovation will be able to harness the "firsthand experience" as well. With the advancement of technology, I expect to see superior large-scale works in the future, rather than small-scale works with shrinking representations. I hope that the intensity of the "firsthand experience" will be great enough to surpass human perception. My desire is to view these works without being a member of the jury. I am grateful for the past three years serving on the jury.

Researcher of Complex Systems Sciences and Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo
Born in 1961 in Nagano Prefecture. Doctor of science (physics) and researcher on complex systems and artificial life. Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo.