Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Evolution of Video Games as Art in the MoMA

It's been nearly 4 years since the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), considered one of the premiere museums on contemporary art in the world, added video games to the repertoire of paintings and sculptures. Including a personal favorite of mine Katamari Damacy. How has the collection been fairing since then? What has been the reaction of patrons once the initial news and conversation died down? Paste Magazine tackled the subject by speaking with one of the assistant curators and a collection specialist in the Architecture and Design department (where the games are housed). And it's more then one part! I'm looking forward to Part 2.

MoMA never thought that the addition of video games would be that big of a controversy. Maybe a few murmurs from the art world...but let's face it. It's video games. We stick "art" in front of it and people are going to talk. Even with their inclusion in the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, I still find myself defending film as an art form when conversation crops up regarding the subject. But for MoMA's Architecture and Design department, they looked to video games as the next logical step to include in their collection. They had a number of prints and posters but lacked a lot of digital content that makes up the art of architecture and design. Video games have been around since the late 1960's. In MoMA's eyes, they were will behind the curve by only starting in 2012 to do research. The backlash behind games going into the museum was nothing new (art and controversy go hand in hand); rather the team was mostly frustrated at how vitriol and closed-minded a number of people were about the prospect.

There is also the topic of violence in video games. A number of the pieces in the collection are considered constructive violence, such as Street Fighter, instead of Grand Theft Auto. If there is one part of the article that you should read, it's how the MoMA approaches this subject when selecting their games. They can't outright omit violence. A number of video games contain them in some form or another (from cartoonish to war). The MoMA's philosophy has always been to showcase works that do not "venerate the value of human life." Which is why you won't see weapons in the museum, but a photograph of a warzone is acceptable as the art was created as a response from the violence. But even this perspective is changing as the museum opens up more exhibitions tackling the subject of violence and art.

Seriously. Can not wait for Part 2. I hope it's posted soon!

Edit 2/24/16: Part 2 is up, and it's just as good as the first.


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