Video Games at MoMA: Do They Belong There?

When the Museum of Modern Art in New York began collecting video games ten years ago, curators boldly argued that games were an art medium. Modern culture is now dominated by them.

Exhibition at MoMA “Never Alone: ​​Video Games and Other Interactive Designs” The exhibition, which runs through Sunday, represents the museum’s cautious foray into the world of gaming at a time when digital culture has overtaken galleries. An Algorithmic Tribute to Art History by Refik Anadol still twinkling in the museum lobby.exhibition about Importance of video It engulfed the 6th floor until July 8th. Galleries in the permanent collection include contemporary art such as Google Maps pins and large-scale schematics devoted to the intertwined chains of resources needed to create a map. Amazon Echo as an artificial intelligence system.

But museums can do more to break through the firewall between art lovers and game designers. After all, this is the same facility that started his film library in 1935, exhibited practical toasters and cash registers as “machine art” in 1934, and modular homes in the 1950s. Curators should unleash the same passion for games, but this exhibition struggles to convey the depth and complexity of the designer’s thoughts.

On the first floor, cantilevered above visitors’ heads, there’s an old computer monitor from the museum’s video game collection. 11 are playable. A total of 35 games are available for viewing. The keyboard buttons were jammed, and users had a hard time stretching their necks to see the flickering display above. Here is a series of his digital experiments in the 1990s. John Maeda Graphic designer and current Vice President of Design and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft.

MoMA’s criteria for assessing the cultural significance of video games require an upgrade appropriate to the medium. Its revenue is expected to reach $385 billion in 2023 And technology will contribute to the ongoing AI revolution.

For curators Paola Antonelli and Paul Galloway, games are the psychological act that defined an era in which much of our human relationships are mediated through screens.

And designers like Will Wright’s vision is to allow players to choose which lessons they want to learn, or learn none at all. One player might experience Wright’s most popular game, The Sims (included in the MoMA exhibit), as a gateway to the world of architecture and home decor. Others have focused on the family planning aspect and staging murder mysteries and ghost encounters.

The decision to allow the game admission to the museum has been debated since the 2010s. Roger Ebert and Jonathan Jones He declared that this medium would never rise to the status of art.

“Chess is a great game, but the best chess player in the world is not an artist,” Jones wrote in The Guardian, adding, “She is a chess player.”

At the heart of these criticisms was the belief that playtime belonged to children. Coincidentally, similar logic affected performance art until museums began making the genre a staple in their programs around the same time MoMA began collecting games.

“People want to be taken to new places,” Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo said of performance art in a 2012 interview with The New York Times. “There is something very visceral about watching her perform live in the age of digital, virtual and mediated experiences.”

The same goes for games. Games enhance immersion by allowing players to enter virtual worlds with the touch of a controller. The simplicity of that relationship is evident in the exhibition “Never Alone”. Zen games like Flower ask players to weave petals in the wind on a journey across imaginary landscapes. But ever since Super Mario 64 put players in the role of advancing through the story by diving into paintings stored inside museum-like castles, the concept has been pervasive in modern games.

So what is stopping museums from developing more ambitious programs around games? With so much material out there, why not do the first major retrospective of a video game designer? Will Wright again Shigeru Miyamoto?

There are some practical reasons. Designers rarely own the rights to their work, the publishers who fund the games hold the rights. In his interview, Antonelli also mentioned other obstacles such as legal negotiations, missing source code and outdated technology that made the acquisition process difficult. Additionally, there is the headache associated with wiring all the electronic systems in the gallery.

But for MoMA’s curators, there’s no better time to explain why games belong in museums and to help visitors understand the difference between academics and what’s sold at the Nintendo store a few blocks away. It seems not.

Never Alone: ​​Video Games and Other Interactive Designs

It will be held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (11 West 53rd Street, moma.org) until Sunday.

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