18th Entertainment Division Critiques

The Power of Design

The Entertainment Division seems to symbolize the recent diversity of media, from video games to video work, gadgets, apps, and websites. As a characteristic from this year's entries, the first thing I would like to proffer is the increased volume and quality of the video works. Today YouTube and Vimeo have surpassed television to become the video medium of the norm, and the accessibility of video for ordinary people has greatly improved. In the same way that children acquire language from their environment, so too are today's youngsters (tacitly) acquiring a video language from their surroundings. The "digital native", as seen from the perspective of Media Arts, could also be called a "video native".
Another point to raise is that the diversity of the Award-winning Works in the division is connected by design, something not specified under the ambit of the Japan Media Arts Festival. This year's Entertainment Division Grand Prize-winner Ingress is of course a video game, but simultaneously also an app and a website. There all the perspectives of design are included.
From video game design to app and web design - consolidating all these diverse media could also form a generic label for design. And this is not limited to Ingress. Excellence Award-winner Noramoji Project also, in the same way as Ingress, is street design connecting a region with the world, and also a downloadable font and elaborately made website. It is an example of superb design for the zeitgeist and for regular citizens, not only designers.
If the keywords distinguishing design today are "open", "social" and "hybrid", then New Face Award-winner Auto-Complain is truly a classic case. Students often talk about using design in art or art in design, but design is simultaneously a means for reaching the intended expression as well as a guideline. The most prominent design award in Japan today is actually here in the Entertainment Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival.

KUBOTA Akihiro
Artist and Professor, Tama Art University
Born in 1960 in Osaka Prefecture, KUBOTA is a professor of art and media in the Information Design Department of Tama Art University. He earned his doctorate at the University of Tokyo School of Engineering. He has pioneered the development and synthesis of a broad spectrum of hybrid creative endeavors, including satellite art (artsat.jp), bioart (bioart.jp), digital fabrication (fablabjapan.org), and sound performance with instruments he has invented (hemokosa.com). He is the author of Kieyuku konpyu-taa (Disappearing Computer-Human Inter face; Iwanami Shoten, 1999), co-author of Post-Techno(logy) Music (Ohmura Shoten, 2001), and translation supervisor of the Japanese editions of FORM+ CODE in Design, Architecture, and Art (Casey REAS, Chandler MCWILLIAMS, LUST; BNN, 2011), Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information (Manuel LIMA; BNN, 2012), Generative Art: A Practical Guide Using Processing (Mat t PEARSON; BNN, 2012), and Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking (Nicolas COLLINS; O'Reilly Japan, 2013).