22nd Art Division Critiques

Where Has the Wild Art Gone?

This is my first year as a jury member for the Japan Media Arts Festival. Unlike judging scientific research, there are no clear standards for evaluating art. Also, the works are tremendously diverse, ranging from film and installation art to objects and photographs. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to select the best works from among the vast number of entries, but I gradually realized that I could see the differences between the works. Some works were created out of a deep need, some aimed at winning prizes, some prioritized tech- nique, while others were born out of coincidence; still others were critical art, and some had strong impact while others didn't. These differences came across in the same way no matter whether it was a film, sound work or installation. My work as a judge began as soon as I recognized this point.This era has seen the emergence of strong new tech- nology. This trend, which started with the Internet, has generated systems such as blockchain, big data, deep learning and AI, whose workings go beyond human understanding. Naturally, these cutting-edge technolo- gies affect many works, and art works need a fear that is unrelated to technology. University of Tokyo profes- sor INAMI Masahiko tweeted that recently he hasn't encountered any truly frightening works, but there are many works he wants to encourage. That's exactly right. Art that inspires cheers is no good. I saw a lot of works that I wanted to encourage this year, but nothing with the kid of violent force that would destroy existing art. I felt like much of the art was groveling at the feet of technology or was simply put together neatly.The media art--and especially sound art--scene around 2000 inspired fear. In Japan and overseas, I could sense the presence of craziness. Cutting-edge technology is always full of that kind of wildness. It is not easy to tame. But if we are to bring this kind of wildness back to media art, we need to fight with new technol- ogy. I hope to see this in subsequent years.

Researcher of Complex Systems Sciences and Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo
Born in 1961 in Nagano Prefecture. Doctor of science (physics) and researcher on complex systems and artificial life. Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo.