Award-winning Works
Art Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • HARA Kenya
    Graphic Designer
    A Precise Process and a Delicate Approach to Length
    The installation that was chosen to receive the Grand Prize was an ambitious effort with an abundance of unpredictable and experimental elements. Each of the dozen or so people in the a cappella choir was furnished with a device that allowed them to freely control the angle and direction of their bodies, thereby accentuating their performance. The shock and novelty of the notion of altering the fixed positions of such a group, which would normally stand in a straight line, coupled with the meticulous craftsmanship of the devices, gave the work in its finished form a degree of perfection that set it apart from the other submissions. The idea of arranging the standing figures in a radial pattern and adding mobility to their positional relationship could only have attained concrete form through careful and extensive preparation, and the precision of this process is central to the impact of the work. It is for these reasons that it deserves the highest honor in the Art Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival.
    This is the third year I have served on the jury, and every year I am aware of the degree of sensitivity employed in determining the length of each work. The viewer has only a limited period of time available, and the works, which require a certain amount of time to appreciate, must be produced with an explosive impact; it is the delicacy of this balance that concerns me. Of course, it would be illogical to simply say that shorter works are better. What I look for is the ability to judge what would be an excessive length.
    On the other hand, it was disappointing to see the lack of vitality in the still-image works submitted. In the digital photography field in particular, I did not encounter anything that seemed fresh. This may be more a problem of how we define these categories; perhaps it would be better to place such works in a Graphics Division. Whatever the reason, I would like to see works of this genre exhibit a more effective crystallization of the energy involved in stopping the movement of reality.
    I was, however, deeply impressed by a series of family photos taken as if with an ultra-telescopic lens from a satellite. The images themselves were beautiful, but what struck me was the wondrous sense of reality they brought, with their lack of perspective and their clarity of space, to our view of present-day human beings. The fact that only the children occasionally gazed up toward the camera, which should have been invisible to them, was intriguing.
  • MIWA Masahiro
    Composer and Professor,Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Science (IAMAS)
    Empathy for Earnestness
    The 3.11 disaster taught us that our use of electricity links us directly to the problem of handling nuclear waste far into the distant future. How are we now to consider the possibilities of artistic expression predicated on electrical power? Are those of us who live surrounded and managed by information networks really capable of "freely" creating something? Taking place as they did during a period when such questions could not be ignored, our jury screenings became a process of seeking a response to those questions from artists around the world. We were not looking for answers per se, or paths to the future. Rather, we wanted to know how the artists dealt with the technologies we have in hand today. Here the notion of "beauty" extolled throughout (western) art history no longer serves as a meaningful criterion for judgment. What concerns us is the earnestness of an artist's stance toward expression. Of course, one cannot overlook such factors in an artwork as the originality of the idea, the will and technique to execute it, the inimitable sensibility that we call talent, and the "perfection" of the finished work -- the degree to which it achieves its ends. But even when all these elements are in place, we do not experience a deep-seated empathy with the work, however highly we may evaluate it, unless it arises from this earnestness, this indwelling urgency, on the part of the artist.
    From these words the reader may get the impression that we selected only abstruse, deadly serious works, but as you can see from the selections themselves, this is not the case. After all, people facing the direst circumstances respond in countless different ways -- some wail in lament, while others betray no emotion on their faces, or even laugh out loud. None of these behaviors is "wrong."
    For me, the screening process this year was our earnest response to the earnestness of these artists.
  • TAKATANI Shiro
    Media Art: Inseparable from Its Epoch
    Just what is a "Media Arts Festival"? Is such a thing necessary? If it is, what form should it take?
    Other questions simultaneously arise: Is it possible to properly evaluate media artworks in this day and age? Assuming it is, from what viewpoint is evaluation possible?
    For this year's festival, I viewed a great many works in my capacity as juror. The experience forced me to think about the process of creating a work of art.As I pondered what sort of criteria I should use to choose certain works over others, I came around to this question: Does the work move or shock me in a way that only art can? In other words, I did not think about definitions, about whether a work did or did not constitute "media art."
    Each work has its own particular value, and this value is absolute, not something that can be judged in relative terms. Even works not selected for recognition this time inspired me to imagine them giving birth to interesting new works in the future, and to speculate about their eventual impact on the world of art.
    One would hope that the Media Arts Festival exhibition represents the culmination of a process of evaluating new, unprecedented artistic efforts that point to new directions. In that respect the present schedule of calling for works in the summer, selecting them in the autumn, and exhibiting them in the winter is simply too short. If we cannot allow a bit more time for this process, then we must question the value of perpetuating it.There must be a shared recognition that the quality of the exhibition is the single most significant factor revealing the quality of the festival itself. It is meaningless if the works selected for this exhibition cannot be viewed directly, rather than in the form of files or images on the web.
    The media arts are a form of art that is inseparable from its epoch. The era when photography was a personal medium is long over; visual media have constantly evolved from photography to film to video to digital movies. With the Internet environment reaching fruition, the ongoing proliferation of moving-image works is of great interest to me.
  • OKABE Aomi
    Art Critic
    The Possibilities of Media: In the Here and Now, Toward a Shared Future
    During the nearly two years that have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, numerous art exhibitions and performances have been held on themes related to the disaster. We saw some superb disaster inspired works submitted by Japanese artists to this festival. Organizing their emotions and sublimating them according to their own unique methodologies, these artists have created a rich tapestry of valuable testimony through a diversity of media.
    Performance works were selected for the Grand Prize and New Face Award, but there were many other non prizewinners in other categories that were just as fascinating, particularly those focusing on physical behavior. The spread of social networking has sparked a renewed awareness, it seems clear, of our desire for time and space to share in the "here and now." In the graphic art and digital photography categories, works related to the recent disasters were particularly affecting, such as one that uses trees to express the radiation in the air of Fukushima, or the one by a young artist who layers paint upon images of post-tsunami rubble. The Excellence Award-winning film that simply played back the words of a seemingly homeless man against deadpan footage of a Russian airport transcended mere reportage to take a serious look at social issues. A New Face Award winner entered in the interactive art category proved to be a magnificent media installation that conveyed the diversity of visual experience. Most works of this genre, however, tend to require sophisticated technology and equipment, giving excessive weight to the cutting-edge hardware aspect of the work. I would like to see work that more clearly expresses the artists' worldview or philosophy, their thoughts on life or art.
    Several excellent web-based works addressed the March 2011 disaster, among them the assemblage of videos by multiple contributors that won an Excellence Award, and a web project by contemporary music composers and per formers around the world in support of the stricken region. Such works moved me because they demonstrate the unique capacity of media to help us remember the past as well as to share the future.
  • KAMIYA Yukie
    Chief Curator, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
    Media Arts for Today
    One might say that the role of the media arts today is to take everyday life, overflowing with images, sounds, and information, and covert it into artistic expression. Over 1,800 works were submitted to the Art Division this year. I was amazed by this enormous outpouring of work and by the passion it exuded. In OKAMOTO Taro's 1954 book Today's Art, he asks, "Who will make history?" The collection of creative urges and resultant works gathered at this year's Media Arts Festival seems to represent one segment of "today's art" that has been inspired by contemporary technology.
    The portable video camera, which emerged in the mid-sixties, instigated a new, sustainable form of expression by making it possible to record and repeatedly show performances that had only occurred on one occasion. The Media Performance category, newly created for this year's festival, attracted a variety of entries in which the human body, the most basic medium of expression, was crossed with technology. Pendulum Choir, winner of the Grand Prize, was one especially poignant example. By adding mechanical movements to a choral performance, the artists arrived at a new form of expression that combined kinetic elements with human bodies that seemed somehow animated.
    New technology is part of everyday life, a source of liberation that blesses us wi th faster, more extensive links to one another. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that ar t is coming to be viewed as something pleasant, gentle, flavorful, acceptable to everyone. I don't mind if you disagree with this assessment. The point is that, as OKAMOTO said in Today's Art, art should not be "pretty," "good," or "comfortable." I think we are at a turning point where we must once again define art as something that questions commonsense and preconceptions, searches for new values, and urges us to reconsider what must be said, what must be thought.