19th Entertainment Division Critiques

Naked Expression, The Transition of Entertainment

Beckoning us out onto the street to "Come out!" was last year's Grand Prize winner Ingress. Marking the 70th anniversary since the end of World War II, the acts of creative expressions indeed "came out". These were naked "expressions", or direct actions that did not take the form of an artwork. On September 14, 2015, a large group gathered in front of the Diet. It was not a scene one could ignore. "Information sharing", "open project", "big data": topics such as these have been the themes of the Entertainment Division these past few years. As a result, works that positively envision the symbiotic relationship between technology and humanity were appraised. However, the screening process, while feeling the presence of naked expressions, was a mentally challenging task, as the actual value and potentiality of entertainment were reconsidered time and again. It's possible that this is not only the case for just the Entertainment Division, but true of the screening processes in all divisions, especially when viewing the list of Award-winning Works. The Japan Media Arts Festival screening for each division is independently conducted, and the Award-winning works are not disclosed until the final announcement. For that reason, interference among divisions is not possible, but the connection and correlation between issues each jury most likely established in their minds can be seen through the works. One can say that this year's Japan Media Arts Festival produced a catalogue that can be deeply read in every way, making 2015 a special, transitional year.
KISHINO Yuichi, whose Best way for counting numbers took the Grand Prize in the Entertainment Division, will probably keep on jovially singing "oppekepe oppekepe" nearby the public, rain or shine, not at all for money, and in spite of being told to stop being so noisy. KISHINO has been practicing this activity for decades. At long last, it has finally "come out" in the open. His blind, sincere persistence was necessary for the time to come for this work to be accepted as "appropriate". Such direct passion naturally involves the people around him. Before they know it, observers are likely to count along. It is the power of empathy rather than forced synchronization. That is the correct way. After KISHINO acknowledged his receival of the award during the press conference announcing the winners, I found myself saying "thank you" as he stood on the podium.
Honoring the winners, the program was supposed to move onto the next scene. While it was an insignificant incident, it was also a scene that evoked anew the power of this artwork. Solar Pink Pong is also staged outside. The installed device perceives spaces and shoots out a pink circle. Those who become aware of it kick it like a ball, or enclose it in their own shadows, and begin to engage in lighthearted play. It is designed not as a game, but as a small form of play. Some people pass by, oblivious. This mixture is also correct. Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1 was the most stimulating of the robotic arm creations. The trance-like state resulting from the automatic drawing creates a happy and sacred moment for the artist, but she is removed from it once she becomes conscious of her act. I would like to see with my own eyes how this robotic arm will evolve over generations. The intensity of creativity increases each year in the indie game scene, and is evident in the two works that received Excellence Awards, Thumper and Dark Echo. There is no strict definition of what indie games are, but what makes them unique is that they are developed on a small scale by a number of people. Also, indie game creators exhibit their work throughout the world, and further polish their creations through people they meet at such events. I encountered the members of Thumper twice this year, once in Kyoto and again in Makuhari. In selecting games, my personal rule is to give the highest evaluation to games that have been completed and are playable. At the time of judging, Thumper had only its first stage completed, but its members have said that the complete version will be released in 2016, and its irresistible attraction made me change my rules. I was personally conflicted, because it was not an easy choice. Starting with Black Death, which took a New Face Award, followed by serious contents such as ,em>Do you know the lifetime of nuclear power plants?, Tokyo Air Raids Oral History Map, OUT IN JAPAN, and PRY were listed naturally in the Entertainment Division. All these are forms brought about by naked expression that has evolved on the streets.

IIDA Kazutoshi
Game Creator and Professor, College of Image Arts and Sciences, Ritsumeikan University
Born in 1968 in Tokyo. IIDA began his career as a director with Aquanaut’s Holiday (PlayStation) in 1995. He also created such games as Tails of the Sun (PlayStation), Doshin the Giant (Nintendo 64DD), Discipline: The Birth of the Empire (WiiWare), Evangelion the Movie: Third Impact (PSP), and LINE easy diver (LINE GAME). He is known for his unique conceptualization style, thinking outside the box. In 2011, he was in charge of story and direction of Songs of ANAGURA: Missing Researchers & Their Remaining Devices, the permanent exhibition of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) and which won an Excellence Award in the Entertainment Division at the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival. He is also the author of many books and articles.