17th Art Division Critiques
Humanity, Examined from Technology
In all music and art, not to mention what we call media art, to experience the arts is not to "view" but to "witness". And to witness is not to gaze at what you see from afar and appraise it, nor to be immersed in the world of the artwork. It is to encounter an unfamiliar phenomenon, to sight it and assume the role of testifier. But what are you the witness of? And just who is verifying what for whom? All of the selected works this year are powerfully calling on us to witness. That is, they indicate a dawn of the "artistic expression by device" while nonetheless drawing on history. Self-referential, they form an introspective homage to media art. In another work, the device itself continues to generate bubbles symbolizing a void.
Attention was also drawn to the works that forced us to confront the diverse things happening in the world. One is a work of theatre taking place inside an augmented reality space, throwing you into the midst of testimonies about the arms trade. Another is a website where information and satellite photographs related to unmanned combat air vehicles are constantly being uploaded, while yet another is an "atlas" which used crowdsourcing to compile online information. These artworks have been born out of the soil laid by recently popularized technology and mechanical systems, but when we traced the source of the technology being used we arrived at weapons development, the very reality being dealt with by the artworks.
These works are not aiming for something so insignificant as exposing the injustices of a specific state. No, the artists seem to be asking unidentified others what is it that we, who today have acquired such an incredible amount of technology, are trying to do in this world. Perhaps it is that people around the world, now living in a present where global economy and technology have transcended state and cultural identities, are hanging their last hopes on art created by a humanity which is examined from technology. Going beyond the artists' senses of justice and their political creeds, we simply "witnessed", speechless, these clinical questions by unfamiliar artists, knowing that more likely than not, right now, at this very moment, unmanned combat air vehicles are quietly carrying out missions.