20th Art Division Critiques
In comparison with last year, my sense was that there were fewer submissions whose primary objective seemed to be to assault the retinas with stimuli. I consider this a very good thing.In looking at the full gamut of works, from those that made use of primitive media to those taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies, the ones that I found most appealing shared a common characteristic: they interposed media as a means of taking a calm and sober look at the current state of the individual or society.Artistic expression from the end of the 19th century into the first part of the 20th was characterized in part by a drastic re-visioning of ordinary day-to-day existence. By altering the view of our uneventful quotidian reality, artists offered up refreshing surprises as well as bewilderment. Now, a hundred years later, everyday reality has itself become overwhelming. But the most gifted of our artists refuse to be swept up in the dizzying pace of change, and instead confront what is happening with a steady and thoughtful gaze.Using media to re-vision the quotidian requires that all manner of emotions be objectified, and this means artists must treat what they see dispassionately. The resulting works tend to become rather subdued and difficult to understand at a glance, and in the context of deliberations during which jurors must evaluate an enormous number of submissions, it is easy for them to get buried. That process pressed home to me just how important it is for jurors to appropriately identify works that effectively express a genuine engagement with issues of the day.I also felt that conventional exhibition spaces are no longer able to provide the best environment for experiencing many works of media art. No doubt these works will serve as the impetus for creating a new, 21st-century art space that functions not just in physical space but in the network environment as well.We can no longer think about contemporary society without being affected by the changing media environment. It's worth reminding ourselves that taking up media in artistic expression is an eminently realistic response to living in the present age.