16th Art Division Critiques

Media Arts for Today

One might say that the role of the media arts today is to take everyday life, overflowing with images, sounds, and information, and covert it into artistic expression. Over 1,800 works were submitted to the Art Division this year. I was amazed by this enormous outpouring of work and by the passion it exuded. In OKAMOTO Taro's 1954 book Today's Art, he asks, "Who will make history?" The collection of creative urges and resultant works gathered at this year's Media Arts Festival seems to represent one segment of "today's art" that has been inspired by contemporary technology.
The portable video camera, which emerged in the mid-sixties, instigated a new, sustainable form of expression by making it possible to record and repeatedly show performances that had only occurred on one occasion. The Media Performance category, newly created for this year's festival, attracted a variety of entries in which the human body, the most basic medium of expression, was crossed with technology. Pendulum Choir, winner of the Grand Prize, was one especially poignant example.
By adding mechanical movements to a choral performance, the artists arrived at a new form of expression that combined kinetic elements with human bodies that seemed somehow animated.
New technology is part of everyday life, a source of liberation that blesses us wi th faster, more extensive links to one another. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that ar t is coming to be viewed as something pleasant, gentle, flavorful, acceptable to everyone. I don't mind if you disagree with this assessment. The point is that, as OKAMOTO said in Today's Art, art should not be "pretty," "good," or "comfortable." I think we are at a turning point where we must once again define art as something that questions commonsense and preconceptions, searches for new values, and urges us to reconsider what must be said, what must be thought.

Chief Curator, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture, KAMIYA is Chief Curator at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Previously she was Associate Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. She has curated internationally, including monographic exhibitions by Do Ho SUH, Simon STARLING, OZAWA Tsuyoshi, and CAI Guo Qiang at the Hiroshima MoCA, and co-curated Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves at ZKM Karlsruhe in 2007 among other exhibitions. She is currently co-curating Re:Quest --Japanese Contemporary Art Since the 1970s at the Museum of Art, Seoul National University in 2013. She has contributed articles to periodicals and newspapers, and is co-author of Creamier: Contemporary Art in Culture (Phaidon, 2010). She serves as a visiting lecturer at Waseda University, Tokyo.