Award-winning Works
Art Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • HARA Kenya
    Graphic Designer
    Depth of meaning of expression over dependence on technology
    Looking back through the history of art, one realizes there are two lines of descent: a lineage woven from the dynamism of hard-to-define emotional values like beauty and creativity, and a lineage woven from a worldview opened up by science and technology. Media arts probably descend from this second lineage. The discovery of anatomy and the rules of perspective accelerated the artistic adventure of the Renaissance, and the arrival of technologies such as the camera, the airship, the satellite, the electron microscope, and computer graphics have further expanded humanity's vision, each time dramatically transforming the way the world is depicted. If we are to examine media arts and honor its brilliant achievements, I believe we should begin by looking at how it reminds us of the way technological advances have made possible the kind of world we see. I was personally moved by The Saddest Day of My Youth, which uses color-field animation to present the artist's memory of watching the failed launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. There's something about feeling the technology of the Space Shuttle as "media" that brings an awareness of it as part of the world's reality. The highly philosophical and literary Grand Prize winner Que voz feio (plain voices) left a good impression, but in the sense of ruminating on technology it seemed to me to reside in the domain of conventional video art.
  • SEKIGUCHI Atsuhito
    President, Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS)
    Advances in technology open new worlds
    Frankly speaking, the quality of entries this year was generally high.
    One of the issues facing media arts as a whole is the patterning of expression caused by the popularization of simple interactivity and the tools and technology that make it possible. To rise above this context and achieve a measure of quality, the work itself must have a depth that calls into question the meaning of the expression lest it risk ending up just another catalyst for déjà vu. In this sense, there is a trend toward fewer works that emphasize unduly superficial communication or interactivity. On the other hand, there has been an increase in works utilizing this depth as a component, condensing it within the content of their videos. One of the technological characteristics of media art is the intrinsic freedom of expressiveness permitted by random access. Yet this also makes it difficult to confer depth in every choice. Are artists simply unable to take it any more? Or perhaps the robust character of video and other sequential content simply makes it too easy to grasp what an expression intends. Still, while all video work is clearly not media art, the line of separation is a fuzzy one.
    Que voz feio (plain voices), winner of this year's Grand Prize, employs dual images as a structural conceit for conveying its storyline. In using this new technique of media expression it qualifies as media art, and its storyline expresses a repeatedly overlapping duality. In particles, a luminescent sphere circulates casually as if this was an ordinary phenomenon, but a close look reveals movements and interrelationships that are carefully constructed and finely calculated. Had this element of calculation been more compelling, it would probably have taken the Grand Prize. HIMATSUBUSHI (Killing Time) became a kind of symbolic mascot for the jury. Something about it arouses a sentimental Japanese urge to see the utterly everyday as somehow lovely. I didn't sense the gravity of art, but there was certainly something there by way of cinematic entertainment, although the creator might object to my use of the term.
  • GOTO Shigeo
    Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design
    Post 3.11 art that questions the essence of all things
    Defining media arts is no easy task, because traditional art forms like painting or sculpture were also media for conveying expression. At the same time, technological newness is not enough on its own. Therefore, my approach toward selection criteria was to remain conscious of media characteristics in a broad sense while choosing works that broke through or expanded on conventional artistic concepts. I looked for works that focused more on external struggle than internal conflict, on transcending self and individual through interaction with others, and in doing so highlighted the indeterminate emotionality of society and the times. In a post-post-modern world, installation models that incorporate technology and science will become more and more important. This need not necessarily be limited to the institutionalized time-space of the museum but will surely be carried out on the street, out in the world, and on a global scale to create installations that transcend the borders of older works.
    This year's jury deliberations would not have been possible had we ignored the perspective of post-3.11 art. The incidents of 3.11 created echoes of many different questions in artists. Some took a political approach while others created works that appear superficially unrelated. 3.11 asks us to redefine ourselves in some way; it questions our morality, our worldview, and indeed our very existence.
    Among the works this year were many from the old media of film, and the Grand Prize winner, which questioned the nature of memory and existence, was exceptionally good. In digital photography, from photography's own struggle in the midst of the transformation from analog to digital emerged works and artists that rewarded attentive viewing. Although perhaps subdued, photography has reconfirmed its place on the front lines of contemporary art.
  • KAMIYA Yukie
    Chief Curator, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
    A social theory born of loss
    Our everyday lives are teeming with technology that is, increasingly, readily available for anyone to use. Instead of prioritizing only technological developments in showing what they can do, artists are moving to strengthen the contents of their works--what they hope it will convey or express. The state of media arts today reveals that we are entering a new stage, one in which technology is just one means of supporting ideas and expression.
    Particularly among video works, what stood out the most this year--more than any emphasis on technical aspects--was the variety of substantial content. Works that were cinematic and theatrical, comprehensive depictions traversing multiple expressive domains, held the promise of developing in all sorts of interesting ways. This means simply that media arts have expanded to encompass all manner of methods both old and new. The fact that this year's festival followed the Great East Japan Earthquake led to works that considered what their depictions meant in relation to society.
    The unprecedented earthquake of March 11 was unlike any previous disaster in how plainly it has been revealed through technologies such as video and data analysis. Faced with forces of nature to sever the workings of the everyday, artists have sought to make creative use of media's openness and ability to bring people together. This mood of eagerness generated an enormous surge in the number of entries. Having witnessed loss, artists appear to have turned closer to home to focus on the practice of creative production.
  • OKAZAKl Kenjiro
    Professor, International Center for Human Sciences, Kinki University
    Everything becomes Media Arts today 2011 as turning point
    How would you describe the nature of media arts?
    The definition of media arts has become even fuzzier in recent years. When the Japan Media Arts Festival began 15 years ago, there were still relatively few works that employed digital technology. There seems to have been a tacit understanding that the media arts were defined by their use of digital technology. Today, however, there are hardly any works produced without the use of digital technology. Applying the original premise, almost any work of art would now fall under the media arts. At the same time, all web-based works are interactive and even photographs and movies become installations if exhibited that way; such concepts are insufficient to define the genre. Indeed, the very term "media arts" in current seems to invalidate genre categories. But fundamentally, "media" refers to the form through which a work is transmitted or recorded, not the form of the work itself. When understanding a work as an example of the media arts, you have to look not only at the form the work takes but also its sociocultural context.

    What trends did you see among works submitted to the art division this year?
    I think the key is the way media converts the information it receives as input into some other form as output. Until now, so-called the media arts have been too concerned with the surprising relationship between these inputs and outputs, like the conversion of material textures or of images into sound. Such conversions alone, however, no longer feel fresh. The question now is what these conversions signify. And no matter how unconventional a conversion one performs, in the end, the output will naturally overlap with existing genres such as film, music, painting, and drawing. In this year's screening there was a sense that quality has matured to the point where works can now compete on the basis of their content, not simply on technology, and hold their own against traditional genres. The use of technology is a matter of process, and perhaps the distinctiveness of that process does not seem appealing unless conceptualized as a criticism of conventional culture. Grand Prize winner Que voz feio (plain voices), using only paired images and soundtracks, succeeds in bringing to the surface a story of historical and spatial depth by highlighting a variety of differences and disjunctions. Focusing on informational differences that materialize through technology generates nothing but an imagined image, an assumption and the words "plain" accurately portrays the images that such disjunctions generate. In the contrast of such imagined images, this work presents a different image with poetic insight. The brooch at the core of the story is both a medium and a kind of poetic language. This unseen object, by its very nature, conveys to us the irreproducibility of individual experience.

    There seem to have been a particularly large number of the Great East Japan Earthquake-related works in the art division.
    I certainly think there has been a change in artistic sensibility since the disaster. There were a lot of high-minded works using conventional technology to overwhelm, startle, or expand people's senses through technical precision and scale, but this kind of expression no longer has much impact. The shock we felt when we saw film of the tsunami, for example, despite the images themselves not being so unlike those in any number of disaster movies, was completely different. But this is a difference that cannot be expressed. In the movies, no matter how terrifying something is, by the end it is always transformed into something enjoyable for the audience. Reality, though, is like watching a move that never ends: the image is never fully resolved, and the thoughts and feelings remain in an unsettled state. Perhaps this shakiness demands some other media to tie things together. Because the works selected this year do not emphasize impact, they may seem subdued, but their level of precision has risen in terms of depth, criticism, and contents. I think this year's body of work shows the difference made by powerful editorial techniques that capture the shakiness of a multilayered information environment. Of course, since the jury operates as a council, my perspective alone isn't enough to speak to all of the art division's award-winning works (laughs).