Award-winning Works
Art Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • AKIBA Fuminori
    Aesthetician and Associate Professor, Nagoya University
    Shaping the World in Col- laboration with “Something” be- yond One’s self
    This year's festival once again attracted many entries in a wide variety of formats. No specific theme is set for entrants, which makes judging truly difficult, as has been said in past jury critiques.Several works left a deep impression on me. They created a new point of view in a collaboration between humans and non-humans in a large stream of data. By modifying consciousness, the physical body and the world we live in (I apologize for such banal phrases), these works gave shape to questions that are important to all of us--"what is life?" "what is nature?" and "what is the universe?" -- within a collaboration with "some- thing" beyond one's self.These works are not simply questioning, ridiculing or mocking these conditions. Neither are they graphic representations of contemporary thought, claiming to reveal the deeper levels of these conditions. These works are not shut up in art history, nor are they con- strained by the self-definition of art as a privileged sphere from which the artist can criticize science and technology.These works almost violently present a vision for life that is not yet known (collaboration with science is essential in the path to the future) in an unimaginable form (realizing it will require insights into ecosystems, including technology). These works hint at the potential for this kind of exposition. Even though at first we might not know what we are experiencing, the entire setting of the work and the artist becomes inscribed on our body so that we can never forget it. I am very grateful for the artists whose works express such possibilities.
  • IKEGAMI Takashi
    Researcher of Complex Systems Sciences and Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo
    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.
  • Georg TREMMEL
    Artist and Researcher
    Why Bio is the Next Challenge for Media Art
    I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to join as a juror, both because I am an Artist working mainly with Art & Biology and also because I believe I am the first non-Japanese to be invited to this position.I was also very happy and very curious to be in- volved in the screening and judging process of a the Japan Media Arts Festival and see how - and for what reasons the prizes are awarded.The Art Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival is very special: unlike other festivals, where the organisers can create a topic or set theme, this is not the case here. A neutral call for entries is issued, and it is there- fore not surprising, that a deluge of over 2,500 entries descended on the jurors: ranging from classical media works like Painting, Film, Photography, Sound and Vid- eo to neo-classical one like Interactive Installations and Net Art, up to very trendy, very technology-led entries that focus on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Especially the works that dealt with VR - and to a lesser extent - AI, evoked a strong feeling of cultural amnesia. It is not a surprise that artists were working with these topics, technologies and issues in the beginning of the Japan Media Arts Festival - more than 20 years ago. But it comes as a surprise, that while the technologies became more accessible, the artists engagement and critical viewpoint did not evolve very much - in general, it even seemed to regress. There also seems to be a certain tendency in media art to become formulaic and repetitive, we need to take care that this does not be- come conservative and orthodox.We are living in exciting times. As the Computer and Information Technology shaped the 20th century, the 21st century will be - or already is - the century of Biol- ogy and it's technical applications. But what has this to do with media art? The distance between the body and the media, between our senses the apparatus has been steadily decreasing: in the case of moving images from cinema, to television, to the computer screen, to the smartphone screen, it moved closer and closer to the body. But theses 'extensions of man' are meeting their natural limits in the techno-phantasies of cyborgs, augmented humans - and also VR.At the same time, the Biological Sciences are under- going a radical transformation. Until recently, they were a strictly analytical science. It was only possible to read, to observe, to categorise. It was a read-only medium. With emerging gene-editing tools like CRISPR/Cas9 it is now becoming possible to write life on its fundamental level, it became possible to read/write living. And fol- lowing the possibility of read/write operations, Biology itself became the newest - and at the same time: oldest - media. I strongly believe that it is the role of the artist to critically engage in the societal, moral and ethical is- sues that these emerging technologies are evoking.I am looking forward to the entries of the next festival, I do hope there will be more submissions from overseas, and wish that I will be positively surprised by the quality and depth of the entries.
  • MORIYAMA Tomoe
    Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
    Going Beyond Singularity, Again
    I have been a jury in the Art Division since the 20th fes- tival, and have had a chance to observe the trends I had closely watched since the festival was founded from the inside. Talking to specialists in media art, information art, AI, and biotechnology as we selected the winners was a fascinating process. Choosing the winners from among more than 2,500 entries in the Art Division was extremely difficult, even with all the selection members' efforts.However, compared to international conferences and alienating screenings overseas, where architects, choreographers, engineering researchers and gender- focused artists voice their thoughts and debate as they vote, I felt at least a little sympathy from the members, all of whom had different specialties, and we were really able to discuss the essence of these works. Perhaps because of this, we tried to use a metacognitive ap- proach to question the descriptions, and gave high marks to extremely site-specific art and spatial art overwhelmed with general music and light, and instal- lation and performance art reminiscent of collective intelligence. If we look at past winning works, we find that there have been interactive works, high-resolution videos, VR industrial art, conceptual art and bio art, making a kind of archéologie. However, even as we rec- ognize the difficulty involved, we dream of encountering entirely new artists and forms of expression, and hesi- tate to give absolute evaluations and relative evaluations and had higher hopes and even stricter standards for talented artists. This time, domestic artists, including international collaboration, took the highest prizes. This could be seen as typical of Japan Media Arts Festival, but at the same time, can't we positively evaluate the success of efforts to nurture this festival? Pictures of past winners (although the works selected in interna- tional competitions should have been decided without regards to the display of the winners) show that exhibits in fields that require a high degree of expertise gradu- ally gained a "grooviness" as they switched to unique halls with elevation on the condition that the works are handled with neutrality. Our next goal should be to dis- play the winning works with a flourish, in line with their context.As I have said previously1, media art/Media Arts has gone through a process of "dissimilation" and "leap- ing away" from conventional values and is now going through a longer process of transformation. This is not simply art that uses electronic technology as an expres- sive medium because the artist wants to "expand art" using changing technology and science. As former jury NAKAZAWA Hideki said2, "works of art created with new media and digital technologies" disappeared from the entry guidelines, and detailed analog structures and works using bacteria won awards. At the 21st festival, the genre has stopped promoting itself as "the newest art using the newest technology and pulled away from "media art as recent past." Engineering techniques and values have been introduced, we have been freed from conventional "contemporary art" standards of evaluation. Puzzling works of art that we struggled to analyze and even identify won awards. We even had a work like "watage," in which dandelion fluff blows in the wind. While computer programming is becoming part of required school curriculum and there are more op- portunities to create in 8K resolution, society is looking back at the Tokyo Olympics, Osaka Expo and the Apollo Project, and we might be seeing a microcosm of a revo- lution in "rapid biography."The discussion of whether media art is a part of contem- porary art or is completely different than contemporary art and whether it should be independent or inclusive is an ambivalent issue. While media arts has been democ- ratized, past works have a fate as sacred relics. Once they leave the art museum and become rides, where does the ephemeral spirit go? Contemporary art in its post-war form, as distinct from "current art," is inexora- bly present, like dark matter. Media art/Media Arts are also going through a major transition. So then "when will my fight be over?"*3 In the middle of this shift then, where is the singularity? No one knows, but I am look- ing forward to seeing it.*1 MORIYAMA Tomoe, "Media Art/Media Arts: Looking to the Next 10 Years," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Fes- tival Award-winning Works," p. 243, 2017; also, "Fluidity and immutability in the heart: Change and continuity," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Award-winning Works," p. 241, 2018. *2 NAKAZAWA Hideki, "A Progress Report on My Criticism of Media Arts," "The 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Award-winning Works," pp. 238-230, 2018; NAKAZAWA Hideki+ABE Kazunao+ISHIDA Takashi, "Key Words to Consider as the Art Division Moves For- ward," ibid pp. 242-247.*3 Original author: MITSUSE Ryu / Drawing: HAGIO Moto, "Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights," Vol. 2, Akita Shoten, 1978; Words of King Ashura: "Outside of this world, an even bigger world is changing, and out- side of this world, there is a world, and outside of that one too, so if these worlds go on forever, then when will my fight be over?"