24th Art Division Critiques
The Age of Transition
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the landscape of the world this year. Political and social unrest was discussed on social media worldwide, and virtual activities became a part of the daily lives of the majority of people. Museums, movie theaters, and even cultural programs including the Japan Media Arts Festival and other art festivals were forced to turn to virtual events. Being curious about the influences of such a backdrop on artworks, I served as a jury member for the second year. Some think there is no direct causal relationship between artistic expression and social background, but mind-blowing works can possibly emerge amid difficult and volatile times. One major reason for me to serve as a jury member is a desire to encounter out-of-the-box works that go beyond the judging criteria and have unexpected energy, because there is much to be gained by understanding how these works are associated with the present time. Unfortunately, in this year, there were fewer works than last year that were unanimously selected by the jury and extensively discussed. Moreover, the number of video works was overwhelmingly small, possibly due to the fact that visual language has become well established as a part of media art expression. Under these circumstances, it was characteristic that many of the award-winners were experience-based works and performances, which properly integrated technologies such as VR and AR into the concept of the works to obtain more accurate expressions. However, it is difficult to judge experience-based works and performances, since the judgement may differ depending on whether or not they are experienced under the same conditions. This called for a debate among the jury members, and is an issue to be considered in the future. During the judgement process, several works evoked discussions about whether they were art or not, and this made me think each time. As the media platforms undergo major transformations, infinite expressions can possibly emerge in this uncertain situation where various boundaries become unclear, and I would like to always keep this in mind.