Japan Media Arts Festival and the formation of environment for global visual culture


Presentation Title:

  • Japan Media Arts Festival and the formation of environment for global visual culture




  • Institutional Presentation Statement

    International competitions and tour exhibitions sometimes make a deep influence on art movements. We can note some epoch-making examples such as ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’ in 1968 and the ‘Ars Electronica Festival’. Between 1958 and 1969, the nascent stages of media art in Japan and the festivals held at the Sogetsu Art Center inspired many avant-garde movie makers, animators, performers, and composers. Then, Manga – game and animation works – became subjects of our governmental support from the 1990s and have been moving from the margin to the centre of mainstream contemporary Japanese visual culture, and also quite a large export for the foreign market.

    The ‘Japan Media Arts Festival’ started in 1997 and is presently hosted by the Japanese Cultural Agency, The National Art Centre and the Computer Graphic Arts Society based in Japan. The festival consists of an annual competition and exhibition of animation, manga, digital arts and entertainment technologies as well as works bought by international artists and curators. The mass-produced game, ‘Wii sports’ by Nintendo and the university students’ works are considered equally and either could win the same prize. In reality, this festival has triggered student works to become commercial games, or has helped young artists’ as an international debut. In the festival in February 2009, there were 2,146 entries, including 512 from overseas, and 55,234 visitors (4,602 per day on an average) were recorded. This paper discusses the role of this festival as a successful model of a social educational environment and also as a medium which gives people the big picture of ‘media arts’ in Japan and the world. The reasons for the growth and continuity of the festival are thought to be due to 1) being a governmental initiative, 2) having a stable project team, 3) the cooperation with academic institutions, 4) encouraging national and international exchange 5) using a cross-cultural network of juries, 6) the rethinking of the judging methods, 7) the identity of Japanese-ness.

    We have been developing a project called ‘Media Arts in the World’ for both real exhibition space and cyber space. This will help viewers to grasp the global movement and also give some artists the chance to network with international curators or media producers.
    Festival information and archives plaza.bunka.go.jp/english/
    Media Arts in the World in the Google Maps & Google Earth mapping.jp/jmf/gmap.html