20th Entertainment Division Critiques
Want to See, Rather than Want You to See
For a first-time jury member like myself, screening the broad spectrum of submissions in the Entertainment Division felt a little like watching a free-for-all among different martial arts.Since there is a separate Art Division, I focused first of all on whether the works were entertaining in a way that anyone in the general public could enjoy. After that I looked for something outstanding in a work's conception that I thought made it worthy of a prize coming out of Japan, as well as for works I felt were capable of giving the viewer a surprise. When in doubt, I tilted toward the works I personally wanted to experience, or that made me want to relay the experience to others.In looking at "media arts" as a whole, even when a work demands a very high level of skill, you want it to seem so natural and effortless that the artist's skills appear utterly superfluous. When the result stirs the heart, feels like magic, or utterly dumbfounds in the good sense of the word?I think that's where the essence of entertainment lies.Precisely in this sense, the two award-winning works dealing with human sensory perception, Unlimited Corridor and NO SALT RESTAURANT, initially inspire disbelief. Yet the underlying technologies ultimately give them tremendous persuasive power. The former takes advantage of the systems humans have developed to orient themselves safely, manipulating subjects' absolute confidence in their sense of touch to alter their perception of space without upsetting their equilibrium. The latter fixes on our preference for salty flavors and presents a taste-sense reproduction technology, albeit limited to saltiness, that actually enriches people's lives through its practical benefit--which I felt made it particularly meaningful.I gave Grand Prize winner SHIN GODZILLA high marks for the way it uses points of contact between entertainment and real life as a hook for creating an alternate-reality experience. As it happens, Godzilla's path runs through my own everyday haunts, so it made me feel as if I were on holy ground without ever leaving home, and the bomb on the deserted train did indeed dumbfound me in a good way.Although it entailed going through a huge amount of material in order to make my decisions, I'd like to thank the artists for submitting so many highly stimulating works.