16th Art Division Critiques
The Possibilities of Media: In the Here and Now, Toward a Shared Future
During the nearly two years that have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, numerous art exhibitions and performances have been held on themes related to the disaster. We saw some superb disaster inspired works submitted by Japanese artists to this festival. Organizing their emotions and sublimating them according to their own unique methodologies, these artists have created a rich tapestry of valuable testimony through a diversity of media.
Performance works were selected for the Grand Prize and New Face Award, but there were many other non prizewinners in other categories that were just as fascinating, particularly those focusing on physical behavior. The spread of social networking has sparked a renewed awareness, it seems clear, of our desire for time and space to share in the "here and now." In the graphic art and digital photography categories, works related to the recent disasters were particularly affecting, such as one that uses trees to express the radiation in the air of Fukushima, or the one by a young artist who layers paint upon images of post-tsunami rubble. The Excellence Award-winning film that simply played back the words of a seemingly homeless man against deadpan footage of a Russian airport transcended mere reportage to take a serious look at social issues. A New Face Award winner entered in the interactive art category proved to be a magnificent media installation that conveyed the diversity of visual experience. Most works of this genre, however, tend to require sophisticated technology and equipment, giving excessive weight to the cutting-edge hardware aspect of the work. I would like to see work that more clearly expresses the artists' worldview or philosophy, their thoughts on life or art.
Several excellent web-based works addressed the March 2011 disaster, among them the assemblage of videos by multiple contributors that won an Excellence Award, and a web project by contemporary music composers and per formers around the world in support of the stricken region. Such works moved me because they demonstrate the unique capacity of media to help us remember the past as well as to share the future.