23rd Art Division Critiques

The Transformation of Media Formats and Physicality

After the three years I spent on the Art Division selection committee for the Japan Media Arts Festival, some four years have gone by and for the first time I have now been given the chance to be involved with the Art Division jury. If one posits that a major shift has taken place over these five years, it would be in reference to the move to do away with categorization within the criteria for jury selection while the classification of actual formats of work remains. My sense is that this has enabled a comprehensive analysis of the works as well as deeper discussions aimed at issues involving the works' imagery. While the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI), bio art, 3D modelling and so on, no longer seems so novel and fresh as it once did, jurying has come to focus on work exhibiting a high degree of maturity with regard to the artist's approach to realizing the work's presentation or its proposal of issues to be addressed. In that sense, the Social Impact Award-winning work SOMEONE, by US artist Lauren Lee McCarthy, exhibited considerable capacity for critical social commentary. The manner in which the work presented relationships between people and modern technology, in artistic form, gave viewers a simulated experience of modern people's daily life while laying bare the reality of the relationships that exist among modern people themselves. At the same time, however, the format of expression in SOMEONE, predicated on the use of existing media and technology, has now become mainstream in so much art production. For this reason, I got the impression that the intensity of the piece was diminished to some extent. On one hand, I got a real sense that the current posture on the acceptance of media is changing as an outcome of the generation designated as digital natives, for whom modern technology has become physicalized. On the other hand, I found that among the entries submitted, encounters with impenetrable, enigmatic works were generally few and far between. In these circumstances, the Grand Prize-winning [ir]reverent: Miracles on Demand by US artist Adam W. BROWN was a standout work for its use of bio media to pose implicit questions on art from under an overarching theme of Christianity, thus intimating the notion of "media" in a broader sense.

Curator of the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Born in Tokyo. TASAKA's main projects include Eizo wo meguru boken Vol. 5 Kiroku ha kanou ka (Quest for Vision Vol.5 - Spelling Dystopia) (2012-13), Takatani Shiro akarui heya (Shiro Takatani: La Chambre Claire) (2013-14), Apichappon Uiirasetakun boreitachi (Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Ghosts in the Darkness) (2016-17), the Ekusupandeddo shinema saiko (Japanese Expanded Cinema Revisited) exhibit (2017), and the Second to 12th Yebisu International Festivals for Art & Alternative Visions (2009-20).