2016.02.28 Sunday

030 Objections to a newspaper contribution - vol.1

After problems with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics emblem surfaced, the Organizing Committee revealed the original plan of the winning design on August 28, 2015 and expressed its wish to continue using the design. Yet the planners were forced to scrap the Olympics logo on September 1. The Organizing Committee continued to refrain from revealing the whole truth; as a judge on the selection committee I found myself viciously hounded by the media. On September 28, the Organizing Committee called a press conference, calling it a “Report on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics emblem issue”, during which the existence of guest artists per invitation was revealed. Three days later, a weekly magazine went on sale with an article reporting on the guest artists. On October 2, the chief of marketing and the creative director of the Organizing Committee were sacked. The fiasco seemed to be spinning out of control when, out of the blue, on October 5, a submission by someone involved in the Olympics logo competition was published in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

“(…) From the participant’s viewpoint, I would say this ‘public competition’ was quite open. Let us consider past competitions that were held for logos of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Winter Games in Sapporo, the Expo 2005 Aichi—these were all closed competitions with a few designated artists. In comparison, this time, it was a competition among designers, all 104 of them, who cleared the entry qualifications. It was hardly closed but it was a truly open competition as never seen before (…) (From the Mainichi Shimbun, evening edition)”. This is an excerpt from a submission made by Mr. Kenya Hara, a graphic designer who was identified as one of the guest artists for the former Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Competition, and whose design came in second place. The article was entitled “In want of clear-cut competition criteria—Professional expertise essential in Olympic Emblems”. (The article in whole can be found in the Mainichi Shimbun digital edition and Mr. Hara’s company website)

“It was a truly open competition as never seen before.” Mr. Hara writes, inducing a misconception—as if a healthy competition had actually taken place. He continues, “Furthermore, we are now seeing media reports cropping up that suggest invitations being issued to specific designers were wrongful acts.” By this statement he seems to imply that this secret rule of inviting guest artists, a rule which was somehow never revealed and kept under the wraps, was indeed a valid way of action. It reads like a manipulating ploy to shape our impression for his self-protection. I could not believe that he was using the newspaper as a tool to make his point. I was appalled.

The phrase “a truly open competition as never seen before” sounds great on paper. But he gives no basis to back up the validity of the statement. Because the invitations were issued in secret, Mr. Hara was ultimately looked upon with suspicion. Yes, I can feel his pain. Yet by making a statement that gives credit to the former emblem competition, that was in fact riddled with problems and had to be scrapped—and now that it has been revealed that the evaluation process was rigged—he should take back his comment. Unless he does that, doesn’t that imply Mr. Hara, is in fact, standing by the crooked evaluation process? His statement says so. In this chapter, I would like to give thought to the Olympic emblem issue once again, focusing on Mr. Hara’s statement that was issued in a major newspaper, a public arena.

One of the requirements for the former Olympics emblem competition was that the entrant had to be a previous award winner. Not just any award. The awards were such that had been bestowed upon numerous creators who belong to Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA), Tokyo Art Directors Club (ADC), The Tokyo Type Directors Club (TDC) and art directors who belong to major advertisement agencies. This requirement confined the field of activities for potential entrants and gave cause to a “closed competition”. This time, compared to 104 submissions for the former Olympic emblem competition, the new competition received 14,599 submissions. A simple comparison of the number of entries is a tell-tale sign. If I may be more specific, because of the previous awards clause, Japan’s leading design teams such as GK Graphics, PAOS, Landor Associate, all groups with tremendous professional expertise in the field of corporate identity development were barred from entering the competition. For the same reason, neither could researchers who teach and study design in educational facilities including elementary schools and universities, nor young designers out there could take part in the competition. I am assuming that designers who specialize in typography and design had to give up submitting their work. I believe we must draw a lesson for the future from the biased qualification clause that prevented specialists who specialize in designing identities for shared consciousness taking part in the competition. It resulted in stagnation and loss for the competition.

I am going to raise a different viewpoint. In Japan we have such artists like Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara who are revered around the world. The world is their field; they are artists who are living each moment through their creative activities. In the realm of arts and crafts there are numerous prime artists who continue to pursue their individual aesthetics on a daily basis, aiming at perfection. What would they have come up with? I am immensely curious what kind of emblem they would have produced for the occasion. Artists attributed with essentialism were unable to challenge themselves to creating a unique Japanese emblem design. We lost a great opportunity; we quashed our chance for seeking a new communication style for a major sport event. That is how I feel.

“An open competition” is a feel-good expression which is vaguely nuanced. It gives the reader an image that “everyone is given a chance to submit their work; it is not a closed competition but an open, fair and healthy competition.” But in reality, submission guidelines required entrants be previous winners of two or more of the specified awards. Thereby, qualified entrants were limited to artists who were active in a specific realm within the design industry. On the surface the competition took on the appearance of a “public competition”. Yet in reality, a guest artist system was secretly in play; preferential treatment was extended to such artists. Numerous wrongful acts were taking place resulting in a rigged competition. These are undeniable facts that have now come out. Documents with the notation “For your eyes only” had been sent out to specific participants before the competition, proving that “on the surface the competition pretended to be a public competition, but in fact, just like such competitions of the past, this was indeed a closed competition for designated participants”. Why should Mr. Hara have chosen this precise moment to praise this competition, calling it “a truly open competition as was never seen before”? What was his aim in glorifying the former Olympic emblem competition so eloquently?
Keiko Hirano
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.

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 048 退会届
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 048 Withdrawal Notice