17th Entertainment Division Critiques

What Only the Japan Media Arts Festival Can Do

My expectation before taking an overview of the entries was that this year, in contrast to the last, there would be no major highlight. In fact though, when the entries were being reviewed one by one by the jury, there was a greater variety than before and many works offered glimpses of the next generation, making it a real struggle for the judges to decide.Recently, work both large and small using a variety of data has been on the increase, and Grand Prize-winnerSound of Honda / Aryton Senna 1989 was a work that very much took on the challenge head-on of seeing how far people can be moved by data. However, what is important here is not so much appealing to the sentimentality or shared illusions of a specific generation, but rather that the key element of the work is its strategy (or rather, its view of humanity) demonstrating through a familiar example how human emotions can be controlled by numbers, which connects deeply with the conversation and controversy today about cyborgs and genetic modification. Other works included one which, in contrast to Formula One, explored the possibilities of communication overcoming the present by archiving data through DIY technology, as well as a cutout animation which reaffirmed how the future always exists in the midst of the past. With these works, the true goal of a "prize" is not only to empathize with the intention of the artists but also to attempt an interpretation that goes beyond this.Most representatively in advertising, we can recently see a whole range of Media Arts works being used and coming into prominence in society, not only in the entertainment sector, though I prefer to place value on work in which you can feel the presence of a living and specific humanity, work created by individuals behind closed doors and which could never be created by a team. In our world today where overly emotional populism is rampant through SNS, it is precisely these kinds of works that I want to appraise here in the Japan Media Arts Festival. In the same way as the applicants, the jury is also always considering not what the festival can do as well but rather what it is that only the festival is capable of doing.

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).