16th Entertainment Division Critiques
Setting the Audience
Increasingly, our first opportunity to hear about a new work comes via the word-of-mouth of social networking sites. Our sense of distance from a work inevitably varies according to whether we experienced in real time a work appearing within our own timeline, or learned, after the fact, about a work appearing in some other, different cluster.
In the Entertainment Division, the "softest" of the categories of the Japan Media Arts Festival, entertainment aimed squarely at a mass audience and entertainment aimed at only a small coterie of the creator's followers are lumped together without distinction.
Which category a work of entertainment fits into is determined by its "audience setting": the type of audience the creator's work is intended for. With social networking and the diversification of relationships between creator and audience, the category "entertainment" is itself rapidly diversifying. That this is a process occurring in the present progressive tense was something we were frequently reminded of in our screenings.By giving the "artisans" of the Internet free virtual access to the mass-audience idols known as Perfume, the Grand Prize-winning Perfume "Global Site Project" gave birth to a phenomenon that was massive in scale. The Perfume motif, once the purview of a few professionals, was handed over to a large number of audience members turned "small creators," whose works in turn were broadcast to audiences of their own. In a brilliant example of "cluster-busting," this chain reaction expanded Perfume's audience beyond its previous idol-oriented base.
I first saw the Excellence Award-winning Smart Trashbox on the Nico Nico Douga video-sharing site. What stunned me was the fact that the video, which introduces the process of making this very innovative device with the offhand words "I thought I'd give it a try," was first offered to the Nico Nico community, where it appeared in tandem with a flood of "Wow!"-type comments. The work's breakaway from the tacit "audience setting" of previous media/device works was itself a symbolic event.
My impression from this, my first jury screening, was that the Entertainment Division offers a unique opportunity to line up and evaluate works like the above two -- occupying utterly different niches, yet both capable of illuminating aspects of the world today from fresh angles.