23rd Art Division Critiques

Out of the Clichéd Conviction that Art Signifies New Creation

Collaborations with science give shape to visions of as-yet-unseen forms of life based on insight into ecosystems, inclusive of technology. They also deliver a definitive blow to the heart of those who look on while still not knowing what it is they see. Such an encounter is just what I have eagerly anticipated in taking part in the Japan Media Arts Festival jury, as I have described in my previous jury critique. As for the actual playing out of that process, the experience will start with a first encounter that may elicit, "Just what is this?" while the observer displays either surprise, shock, fear, discomfort, or even a faint smile, for example. Next comes the stage of coming to find out what sort of ecosystem the work was borne of, as well as what kind of insight into ecosystems informed the work. Accordingly, this means that what is important, first and foremost, is that the work elicits some sensation that makes the viewer ask, "Just what is this?" This, of course, does not mean something merely sensational; I could be satisfied with work prompting a gradual reaction along the lines of "Oh?" as well. My thoughts in this vein are borne of an extremely orthodox and altogether dry, prosaic view of art: that, most importantly, art signifies the creation of something new; and furthermore that it ought to be a type of work for which the transformations it entails are, first of all, to be received with wholesale physicality, involving no detachment from life, thought, senses, and so on. Moreover, when in the midst of an encounter along these lines, I would expect to be led away from the narrow, limited framework of the experience of being myself, and then guided to a state of being where any distinction between me and you, or somebody else breaks down. Here, too, I find myself dependent on this hackneyed, passé sort of conviction. To expand a bit further, this is based on an additional conviction I have: that it is the new forms of science and technology, the very systems that appear to be farthest removed from this sort of conviction that really grapple with it in earnest. In the current year's jury as well, I was afforded opportunities to encounter works offering a sense of these possibilities that are inherent to art. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude.

AKIBA Fuminori
Aesthetician and Associate Professor, Nagoya University