15th Entertainment Division Critiques

Neither controlling nor a salon, a forum for free expression

What selection criteria were used in the entertainment division?
It is difficult to establish clear selection criteria for the entertainment division because the entries it receives--including games, music videos and toys--are so diverse, even by the standards of the Japan Media Arts Festival. The scale and scope of projects vary widely, from toys that seem to realize a flash of insight to massive undertakings that might take 3 or 4 years from conception to realization, yet must be judged against one another. Still, since each was submitted as a work of entertainment, the only criteria, really, is whether or not they move people. The starting point for entertainment is the ability to captivate an audience.

Which works among this year's award-winning works did you particularly like?
SPACE BALLOON PROJECT, which took the Grand Prize, was impressive. The real-time aspect of Internet transmission, the magnificent scale of an effort to reach outer space, and although I'm sure all precautions were taken, the exhilarating suspense about whether it would succeed all made for superb entertainment. Even if mediated by the screen of a computer or mobile phone, the project seemed to put space within reach. This was a sensation made possible only due to the development and popularization of technology.
Group Tamashii's berobero also left a deep impression. Although produced before the earthquake, it seemed a more powerful antidote to 2011's stifling mood than any of the earthquake-conscious works made in the disaster's wake. The visuals just show continually walking forward but I found them really captivating.

Tell us your impressions of the state of entertainment in 2011, including works that either were not nominated or did not win.
The Japan Media Arts Festival includes the word "arts," but entertainment does not depend on art for its existence. I also think the tendency to favor works that addressed the earthquake, as an aspect of current event, is out of place in entertainment. Entertainment is something more akin to hospitality or service than art. Art is self-expression, and this motive is different than entertainment's fundamental aim of serving an audience.
I was disappointed that there were so few noteworthy games and television commercials this year. There were ads that got talked about, to be sure, but even clever techniques and gimmicks are not enough on their own to really captivate people.
Television commercials used to express themselves in all sorts of ways but the innovation in entertainment today seems to be happening elsewhere.

Do you mean that the role of commercials has changed from captivating people to getting them talking?
In advertising, of course, any time you can get people talking it is a success. Perhaps data analysis has become too advanced, or the practice of marketing too sophisticated, but there seems to be such concern about the effect on sales that nothing new is being produced anymore. When you're limiting expression to a predictable range, it's not easy for you to produce works with that capacity to surprise and captivate. For works of entertainment, it's important to be provocative and do things no one has ever done before, like with SPACE BALLOON PROJECT.

With so many awards out there, how do you see the Japan Media Arts Festival?
In a word, it's a hodgepodge (laughs). I don't think you could find anywhere else with the same mix of animation, manga, advertising, contemporary art and film in one place, and at this scale. Bringing together creators from such a range of genres generates a special sense of excitement and festivity, and this atmosphere also draws in young people who aspire to join these industries. I think this is tremendously important for the future. Many field-specific awards tend to have the feeling of an authoritative salon, but you won't find that at the Japan Media Arts Festival. I think the mixing together of creators and their work in an open forum, and the new ideas it inspires, gives a special impetus. The Japan Media Arts Festival is an important opportunity for those who create entertainment to learn about design and technology, and for those who create art to learn about entertainment. It certainly has that potential and that promise.This sound sculpture is unique with its overwhelming material touch, which is seen as an inverse image of the invisible realms symbolized by the Internet, particularly against the backdrop of the global expansion of the worldwide web. However, the theme of this work does not embrace concepts such as externality and antihuman alterity. What matters is the transfiguration of space, time and our consciousness and physical sensitivity triggered by the sound sculpture. Upon facing it, spectators are sure to experience spiritual awe that goes beyond the limits of the purely physical.

Creative Director
Born in Saitama, 1961. UCHIYAMA Koshi has been actively involved in fields that stand at the crossroads of advertisement, entertainment and technology. Defying the boundaries of mere creative agencies or production companies, he has been providing forward-looking marketing solutions that fuse digital communication and entertainment ideas. He has received the Cannes Lions Gold Award three times as well as numerous other advertisement and design awards from around the globe. At the Japan Media Arts Festival, he has received two Excellent Prizes, and four of his works have been selected as Jury Selections.