2015.10.24 Saturday

006 A culture where special interests take priority

In order to properly address the issue which arose during the selection of the official emblem for the 2020 Olympics, I feel we must take a long hard look at the current condition of the community that specifically leads art direction and graphic design here in Japan. What I am about to say here, at first glance, may seem unrelated to the logo issue at hand, but I believe it is a crucial perspective, an inevitable step in order to get to the bottom of the problem.

At the moment, I belong to such organizations as: The Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA), Tokyo Art Directors Club (ADC), Japan Design Committee and Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

ADC members are required to participate in the selection of works to be featured in the Tokyo Art Directors Club annual. However, I am afraid my participation began to wane around 2007. I have not been fulfilling my duties as an ADC member. I appreciate the fact that I owe much to such senior artists who acknowledged my work, and that was what made it possible for me to continue pursuing design, up to this very day. Thus, when I became a member, now on the voting side, I wanted to choose outstanding pieces of work by budding young talent, deemed to push creation’s future forward. I participated in these screenings, doggedly believing in the value of my single vote. But from a certain period, I lost faith in the value of my vote. And I started to distance myself from the judging.

Once the number of people who give priority to special interests grows out of proportion, fairness is lost from the whole judging process: I believe the rule of majority fails to function properly. Looking back on the timeframe, I can see that I began excusing myself from the ADC screening around the time I began to suspect some flagrant bid-rigging was going on. In fact, when I look over the list of past award winners, names from a certain company, people who formerly belonged to the company, and people who belong to affiliated companies keep on cropping up every year. Specifically, I will point out that in the 16 years since 2000, 19 works by such artists were awarded various ADC and ADC members’ awards. And without exception, the pattern was repeated for the current year. There were multiple winners, one work taking the grand prix and another an ADC award. Consider the fact that there are close to 10,000 entries submitted for the ADC annual screening. Of which only ten works will be chosen. The odds for entries related to the said company to keep up its winning streak is amazing—I must say, almost astronomical. Building on such proven performances, winners of ADC awards will eventually be up for nomination to become ADC members. Then it will be their turn to cast votes. In even simpler terms, if voting members who belong to the company and affiliated companies were to vote for a specific entrant—with ties to the company—the work will automatically get a boost of almost ten votes, making things considerably difficult for other entrants with no ties or connections. Naturally, it is highly probable that the entrant with ties to the company wins.

On the surface the screening seems to be regulated under a fair procedure, a majority decision by members. But in reality, in recent years we have been seeing a growing number of, what seems to be a pattern of collusion, practiced by a select group of people. There is very little fairness here. If I were to ask myself, were these the best representations of art direction and graphic design that emerged here in Japan during the past year, I must say, I have serious doubts. In fact, in recent years, we are seeing a decline in the number of submissions for the ADC annual. Isn’t it natural to assume that the pattern of gross imbalance is apparent to those looking at ADC from the outside?

The difficulty of the problem is deep-rooted. There are some who actually support the actions taken by greedy people; there are others who are aware of the wrongfulness of the practice but choose to keep mum, giving their silent approval. I suspect that the spread of nihilism is somehow connected to the current logo fiasco. How do the conscientious members, people equipped with sound judgement feel about this uncomfortable reality which was brought on by a handful of people?

My views are pure conjectures based on actual figures, backed by statistics only. Obviously, I have no concrete evidence that collusion took place. Then what can be done as we strive for a fair judging process? In the end, for a truly fair and equitable screening, we have no way but to rely on people’s consciences. That is what I think. But this is not the time nor place to discuss idealistic theory. Let me propose a specific remedial plan to revise the judging process. If a new rule is applied for the screenings at ADC and JAGDA—prohibiting members from voting for submissions by entrants belonging to their own company and affiliates—the unfairness of voting will change for the better. Actually there are some design organizations that have already implemented this policy for their screening panels: no voting for submissions by their respective companies.

Furthermore, regarding the actual screening, both the judges who cast votes and the entrants who seek those votes, should not set their goals at winning an award or giving an award. The purpose and significance of the annual screening should be to give a genuine assessment of the submitted work, and serve as a frank recording of its worth as a design. Unless we stick to these principles, the ADC annual has no value. It loses its meaning. It must be a gathering of true creators equipped with class and intelligence, who can seek out and give praise to the special talent demonstrated by others; the creators must be pure of intention in their evaluations; they must have enough  self-discipline so that they do not give priority to their special interests. Now that will certainly bring a fresh breeze of air to the judging process.

Let me change the subject and move on to the screening for the Olympic logo. I cannot disclose the contents of the judging that went on regarding the other seven judges on the panel beside myself. The decision regarding disclosure of information lies with the Organizing Committee. As for myself, I think my action is in the realm of my own responsibility and discretion. So let me explain. In the last round of voting, I cast my vote for the design that ultimately came out first. I would like to expand on the basis of my decision at another time. 

Regarding the logo issue, as a member of panel of judges, I have been giving much thought to the way the judging take place. It has already come to surface that the organizers played a key role in causing the current problem. But I feel there was a separate issue at play. I cannot say with absolute conviction that there was not a hint of special interests taking priority. It is a pattern in the industry, which in recent years, we have come to recognize.
 
Keiko Hirano


[Correction Notice]
This is a notification to the readers of my blog. A concerned party from the design industry pointed out that some parts in the initial 006 post could be misinterpreted. Please note that I have made some corrections. The revised segment was reposted on November 28.
 
Keiko Hirano
November 28, 2015
 
Keiko Hirano: 
Designer/Visioner, Executive Director of Communication Design Laboratory
Hirano served on the panel that chose the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was ultimately withdrawn.

五輪エンブレム問題の
事実と考察
001 責任がとれる方法で 002 公募期間の短さ 003 『展開』『展開性』『展開力』 004 知らされなかった招待作家 005 ブログを読んで下さっているみなさまへ 006 利害優先の土壌 007 修正案承諾拒否の経緯と理由 - vol.1 008 修正案承諾拒否の経緯と理由 - vol.2 009 『公』の仕事 010 専門家の盾 011 秘密保持誓約書という密室 012 いまこそ、私心なき専門性を問う 013 判断の論拠 014 最終の審議 015 金銭感覚と敬意の相対性 016 表現におけるモラリティと表現者のモラル 017 言葉のちから 018 何のための調査なのか、調査の目的は何なのか - vol.1 019 何のための調査なのか、調査の目的は何なのか - vol.2 020 何のための調査なのか、調査の目的は何なのか - vol.3 021 何のための調査なのか、調査の目的は何なのか - vol.4 022 願い 023 摩訶不思議な調査報告書 024 負の遺産とならないように 025 出口なき迷路 026 届かぬ思い 027「社会に位置づくデザイン」という観点 028 無責任主義の村 029 審査委員として知り得た情報のすべて 030 新聞寄稿文への異論 - vol.1 031 新聞寄稿文への異論 - vol.2 032 1対3の構図 - 「A案」VS「BCD案」 033 今を生きる 034 負の連鎖……を断つために 035 欲望の公害 精神の断絶 036 イカサマ文書 by JAGDA - vol.1 037 イカサマ文書 by JAGDA - vol.2 038 イカサマ文書 by JAGDA - vol.3 039 事実はひとつ 040 新世界へ 041 JAGDA文書への意見と要望 ― 法律の専門家による分析 042 JAGDAの回答 JAGDAへの要望書 043 「要望書へのJAGDAの回答」に対する更なる質問 044 「意見書へのJAGDAの回答」に対する質問と提案 045 ブラック・デザイン 046 弁護士から届いた封書 047 おとぎの国の物語
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Logo Controversy--Facts and Observations 001 My way of taking responsibility 002 Duration of contest was way short 003 “Development” “Development Capabilities” “Development Power” 004 Guest artists I wasn’t told about 005 To My Readers 006 A culture where special interests take priority 007 How and why I refused to accept the modified design - vol.1 008 How and why I refused to accept the modified design - vol.2 009 Strictly “public” work 010 Specialists as shields 011 Behind closed doors-secrecy surrounding a non-disclosure agreement 012 Time to put selfless expertise to the test 013 Rationale behind my decision 014 The final review session 015 Is the money mindset relative to paying respect? 016 Morality of expression and the morals of its creator 017 The power of words 018 An investigation for what? What is the purpose of the investigation - vol.1 019 An investigation for what? What is the purpose of the investigation - vol.2 020 An investigation for what? What is the purpose of the investigation - vol.3 021 An investigation for what? What is the purpose of the investigation - vol.4 022 My wish 023 Mystifying investigation report is out 024 In order to prevent a negative legacy 025 Stuck in a maze with no exit 026 A voice unheard 027 A viewpoint that calls for “design with a place in society” 028 A village with a policy of irresponsibility 029 Every piece of information that I garnered as a judge on the selection committee 030 Objections to a newspaper contribution - vol.1 031 Objections to a newspaper contribution - vol.2 032 The underlying picture of one against three - “Plan A” versus “Plans BCD” 033 Living in the moment 034 Putting a stop……to a negative chain of events 035 Pollution by greed and discontinuity of the spirit 036 Bogus document by JAGDA - vol.1 037 Bogus document by JAGDA - vol.2 038 Bogus document by JAGDA - vol.3 039 Every fact has only one version 040 Toward a whole new world 041 Opinion and request regarding JAGDA document―An analysis by a legal specialist 042 Reply from JAGDA Request letter to JAGDA 043 More questions re: "Reply from JAGDA regarding Request Letter" 044 Questions and proposal re: "Reply from JAGDA regarding Request Letter" 045 Rogue design 046 Letter from the lawyers 047 Tales from Wonderland