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In recent years many media art festivals appear all over the world. Here in Japan is not exception. Among those festivals best known is “Japan Media Arts Festival” run by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival

This year is 11th festival. 160 outstanding woks out of 2,091 submissions were on display at The National Art Canter, Tokyo that had just opened last year. During 2 weeks period of the exhibition from 6 February to 17 February 44,500 people made a visit to the show.
Works were exhibited by each category following same manner as previous years such as, Art, Entertainment, Animation, and Comics. Besides works from Media Arts Festival large exhibition space were choked up with works from joint-exhibition “Student CG Competition”.

Here are some works from the exhibition.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival
“Slot Machine Drawing” Eisuke Kusachi, Junji Watanabe

“Slot Machine Drawing” by Jynji Watanabe from Art category was exhibited nearby exhibition entrance and was gaining particular attention. The Artist himself claims the work as further development of his previous work like “Roll Canvas”. Hand drawing using a tablet mouse generates animation on the screen. Directness of tablet mouse interface puts a player into simple activity of hand drawing.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival

ISSEY MIYAKE A-POC INSIDE” by Masahiko Sato and Euphrates received Semi Grand Prize from Art category. The work was made for Issey Miyake’s website and is still available on the website. Animated dots and lines draw various movement of model cat walk, which appears as if actual body of a model is moving from such simple elements like dots and lines.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival
“Super smile” Effie Wu

“Super Smile” by Taiwanese Media Artist Effy Woo received Encouragement Prize in Arts Category. Her video work captured only herself smiling in front of a camera. At first sight a viewer tries to expose what she is smiling at. As the video moves forward without telling any clue of her smile the viewer is left with uncertainty. Besides the part which she smiles without any blinking the video looks rather ordinary but eyes are so attached to the work for its oddity.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival
“Sniff Smell of Princess *Kaguya –Traditional Japanese Tale Remix” by Rintaro Hara + Yu Hara

From Entertainment category “Sniff Smell of Princess *Kaguya –Traditional Japanese Tale Remix” by Rintaro Hara + Yu Hara was very interesting by far.
(* Japanese word Kaguya is homonym of verb Kagu meaning sniffing.)
Traditional Japanese tales were translated to English through computer based automatic translation software. Then back in Japanese again, which was combined together with illustration. Their books was interesting discovery that well-known tales tell different story through filter of automatic translation technology. Incorrect outcome of translation was treated rather funny by artists. Thus it contributed to weave completely new reading of existing story.

11th Japan Media Arts Festival
WAKURABA -ethereal encounters- by Masaru Tabei

From a joint exhibition 13th Student CG Competition “WAKURABA -ethereal encounters-” by Masaru Tabei received Fine Work Prize in Interactive Art Category. Plot of gravel was laid out in the room. After a while a person walked on the gravel it reacts back with sounds by a device physically shaking gravel to simulate the moment. Plot of gravel remains empty of people but sound of step stays in the air.

Besides works picked up above there were lots of other outstanding works like “Captive Julia” by Masaki Nakayama, which received Grand Prize in Still Picture category. Overall, the exhibition proved standard of works is very high though participants consist of mainly young artists including many students.

Figure of visitors ranged from young to old. As well as the exhibition dealt with broad subjects of Media Art and offered variety of experiences from direct play with object to other works questioning bigger range of Media Art like “what is human being?”

Through showing diversity in the format of exhibition the festival presented well a concept of Media Art, which tends to be undefined. Many expression in exhibition seemed suggesting thoughts beyond fixed idea of what ability of human can do.

The 11th Japan Media Arts Festival
Date: 6-17 February, 2008
Place: The National Art Canter, Tokyo
Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hosted by: Agency for Cultural Affairs / The National Art Center, Tokyo / CG-ARTS SOCIETY
Admission Free

Text: Yasuharu Motomiya
Translation: Naoki Kotaka

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