17th Entertainment Division Critiques

The Opposing Concepts of Order and Noise

Just what are the Media Arts? The myriad entries to the festival threw this question at me: 4,347 artworks from 84 countries, all different in form, each living, each retaining its own unique ego, like cryptids wriggling in the dense mist of a fantasy world. In the same way that "living" (and this alone) is what defines living creatures as being what they are, do the Media Arts come about simply through raising new technologies to the level of artistic expression? The reason this nebulous image should so capture me is that with both living beings and media, genesis and evolution are very important in how they came about. Genes inherited from our ancestors absorb social influences, inducing internal chemical changes, evolving and radiating new energy. Media Arts - what we might call a kind of bio-order - are a stabilized system for producing artworks. However, is it not in deviations from this giant structure, in the manifestation of bizarre living bodies that have achieved mutation, is it not here where true, unparalleled "beauty" lies? This year, MATSUMOTO Toshio is the winner of a Special Achievement Award. Since the late 1950s, MATSUMOTO has been an outstanding contributor, continuing to cultivate the fields of experimental cinema, video art and media art. MATSUMOTO and I have conversed on many occasions over the years, and invariably the subject will steer towards "order and noise". I would like to introduce some of what we have exchanged in our discussions of these opposing concepts.

Order is the commensurate state whereby a perspective on things retains equilibrium. Noise deviates from this state, it confounds.
Noise exists on the fixed line that brings the world into being; it is suppressed, ignored and at times violently excluded. In other words, what resides in noise is power which does not tolerate commensurate quantification, or power which cannot be conceptualized. Activating this noise and creating revolt is one of the elements of creativity.

To understand "Media Arts" and examine the irreplaceable beauty of the cosmos, one should first visualize this noise deviated from order. This is the most important thing of all. At the end of our dialogues, MATSUMOTO and I would always find ourselves reaching this conclusion. "Because it is in noise most of all that the spirit resides..."

UKAWA Naohiro
Genzai (Contemporary) Artist and Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design and Representative, DOMMUNE
Born in 1968. A multi-talented artist known for his wide range of activities as a video artist, graphic designer, music video director, VJ, writer, college professor, and Genzai (Contemporary) artist, among other roles. In March 2010, UKAWA founded the live streaming channel DOMMUNE, which immediately attracted a record-breaking number of viewers for its daily programs, and was greatly discussed both inside and outside Japan. DOMMUNE was chosen as a Jury Selection at the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival.