22nd Art Division Critiques

Going Beyond Singularity, Again

I have been a jury in the Art Division since the 20th fes- tival, and have had a chance to observe the trends I had closely watched since the festival was founded from the inside. Talking to specialists in media art, information art, AI, and biotechnology as we selected the winners was a fascinating process. Choosing the winners from among more than 2,500 entries in the Art Division was extremely difficult, even with all the selection members' efforts.However, compared to international conferences and alienating screenings overseas, where architects, choreographers, engineering researchers and gender- focused artists voice their thoughts and debate as they vote, I felt at least a little sympathy from the members, all of whom had different specialties, and we were really able to discuss the essence of these works. Perhaps because of this, we tried to use a metacognitive ap- proach to question the descriptions, and gave high marks to extremely site-specific art and spatial art overwhelmed with general music and light, and instal- lation and performance art reminiscent of collective intelligence. If we look at past winning works, we find that there have been interactive works, high-resolution videos, VR industrial art, conceptual art and bio art, making a kind of archéologie. However, even as we rec- ognize the difficulty involved, we dream of encountering entirely new artists and forms of expression, and hesi- tate to give absolute evaluations and relative evaluations and had higher hopes and even stricter standards for talented artists. This time, domestic artists, including international collaboration, took the highest prizes. This could be seen as typical of Japan Media Arts Festival, but at the same time, can't we positively evaluate the success of efforts to nurture this festival? Pictures of past winners (although the works selected in interna- tional competitions should have been decided without regards to the display of the winners) show that exhibits in fields that require a high degree of expertise gradu- ally gained a "grooviness" as they switched to unique halls with elevation on the condition that the works are handled with neutrality. Our next goal should be to dis- play the winning works with a flourish, in line with their context.As I have said previously1, media art/Media Arts has gone through a process of "dissimilation" and "leap- ing away" from conventional values and is now going through a longer process of transformation. This is not simply art that uses electronic technology as an expres- sive medium because the artist wants to "expand art" using changing technology and science. As former jury NAKAZAWA Hideki said2, "works of art created with new media and digital technologies" disappeared from the entry guidelines, and detailed analog structures and works using bacteria won awards. At the 21st festival, the genre has stopped promoting itself as "the newest art using the newest technology and pulled away from "media art as recent past." Engineering techniques and values have been introduced, we have been freed from conventional "contemporary art" standards of evaluation. Puzzling works of art that we struggled to analyze and even identify won awards. We even had a work like "watage," in which dandelion fluff blows in the wind. While computer programming is becoming part of required school curriculum and there are more op- portunities to create in 8K resolution, society is looking back at the Tokyo Olympics, Osaka Expo and the Apollo Project, and we might be seeing a microcosm of a revo- lution in "rapid biography."The discussion of whether media art is a part of contem- porary art or is completely different than contemporary art and whether it should be independent or inclusive is an ambivalent issue. While media arts has been democ- ratized, past works have a fate as sacred relics. Once they leave the art museum and become rides, where does the ephemeral spirit go? Contemporary art in its post-war form, as distinct from "current art," is inexora- bly present, like dark matter. Media art/Media Arts are also going through a major transition. So then "when will my fight be over?"*3 In the middle of this shift then, where is the singularity? No one knows, but I am look- ing forward to seeing it.*1 MORIYAMA Tomoe, "Media Art/Media Arts: Looking to the Next 10 Years," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Fes- tival Award-winning Works," p. 243, 2017; also, "Fluidity and immutability in the heart: Change and continuity," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Award-winning Works," p. 241, 2018. *2 NAKAZAWA Hideki, "A Progress Report on My Criticism of Media Arts," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Award-winning Works," pp. 238-230, 2018; NAKAZAWA Hideki+ABE Kazunao+ISHIDA Takashi, "Key Words to Consider as the Art Division Moves For- ward," ibid pp. 242-247.*3 Original author: MITSUSE Ryu / Drawing: HAGIO Moto, "Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights," Vol. 2, Akita Shoten, 1978; Words of King Ashura: "Outside of this world, an even bigger world is changing, and out- side of this world, there is a world, and outside of that one too, so if these worlds go on forever, then when will my fight be over?"

Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
MORIYAMA was engaged in the launch of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and its Images and Technology Gallery as a curator from 1989. While teaching at universities including the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo, Waseda University, and Bauhaus University, she has curated approximately 50 media art exhibitions in Japan and abroad. She has held her current position at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo since 2007. With a scholarship from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, she worked at ZKM and MIT Media Lab as an invited researcher. She served as a consulting curator at the J.P. Getty Research Institute and as a jury member for the Prix Ars Electronica. At SIGGRAPH Asia in 2008 (Singapore), she was the first Japanese chair of the program "Art Gallery / Emerging Technologies." She also served as a jury member for NHK's Japan Prize. Among the major exhibitions she has curated are IMAGINATION, A Universe in Storyboards--Birth of an Image, Meta-Visual, Haptic Literature--intersection of text/media art, Kohei Nawa--SYNTHESIS, Tokujin Yoshioka_Crystallize, mission [SPACEXART]--beyond cosmologies, and the Japan Media Arts Festival Linz Exhibition and Aichi Exhibition. Among her main published books are Re-Imagination and Meta-Visual (French Edition) (co-author and supervisor).