20th Art Division Critiques
Some Thoughts from My Experience as a Juror
In the course of the screening process, I frequently had to ask myself what exactly this thing called "art" is. I think this owed not just to the overwhelming volume of submissions and diversity of artistic forms, but also to how the four divisions have been delineated in this festival as well as to the sheer breadth of the term "media arts." This breadth is by no means a negative thing: The fact that the festival accepts so many different approaches to art is actually one of its greatest appeals.The meetings of the panel became a highly rewarding opportunity for each of the jurors to deepen his or her own thinking about art in response to one another's views on the works that came before us.Here's one of the thoughts I had in the course of screening. Modern art arises from the desire to break down what has been expressed in prior art, and to free us from old ways of seeing things. So it is entirely understandable that high regard goes to the use of new techniques to visualize the unseen structures of the world or to point out new relationships. My quibble in the present case is that there seemed to be quite a few works in which the tools for exposing unseen structures or positing new relationships were used for the simple task of confirmation and nothing more. A strong concept and a critical stance toward one's own chosen technique of expression are both important, but at the same time, the expression needs to be something more than a mere explication of the concept. A kind of expressive impulse that even the artist cannot explain moves the work bit by bit toward completion through continuous and repeated refinements. And yet the source of that impulse remains a mystery. Is that not where the appeal of art lies?The award recipients were works in which a strong desire to explore new ways of looking at the world, together with whatever was at the source of the aforesaid impulse, bore fruit in a highly fertile cloud of mystery. The ceaseless movement of the floating mesh of lines in Grand Prize winner Interface I, and the idiosyncratic movements of the body in Excellence Award recipient Alter, give rise to all manner of questions about the nature of life and time and image. Moreover, they do so even though such movements are already present everywhere within and around us. This was where the fundamental question of what art is reared its head.