Museum of Modern Art to Showcase Video Game Collection in 2013

The curators of New York's Museum of Modern Art recently released announced their plans to feature a new exhibit focused on video gaming.

The exhibit, a feature of the museum's design collection, will explore interactive design within virtual worlds like [i]EVE Online[/i], [i]Dwarf Fortress[/i], and classic titles like [i]Pac-Man[/i].

We spoke with Kate Carmody, a curatorial assistant for MoMA's design collection about what criteria they used for their exhibition and whether gaming is or isn't art.

See also:
- Top 5 Video Games as Art

What is your role at the Museum of Modern Art?
I'm a curatorial assistant, so I work very closely with Paula Antonelli who is a senior curator. I also work with a lot of the other curators in my department putting together exhibitions, acquisition research, and anything collection and exhibition related.

Where did the idea for a video game exhibition come from?
Paula Antonelli convened a summit in 2006 to discuss our graphic design collection and status of contemporary design processes and products. A good example to look at would be our poster collection. Graphic design has always focused on posters and that's more or less what we've been collecting since the dawn of our department.

At the summit she gathered scholars, designers, and historians to identify new frontiers for us to explore. Studying the typography of movie posters and digital text lead us to different types of interactive design. Packaging these titles fills into film design far beyond posters and other interactive art lead her to video games. For our interactive design collection we have little snippets here and there, but we have no real collecting strategy per se. Video games seemed like a good way to get across what we want people to notice about interaction design.

The acquisitions process started a couple years ago. We had expanded the interaction design collection to include typography, and thinking about those problems and issues seemed to allow us to make the jump into thinking about video games as part of the interaction design agenda. We've been working on this for a couple years: Deciding what games and criteria until we're now finally able to start asking companies and making agreements. It's been a long arc, and we finally announced a couple of days ago!

How do you think games differ from other art forms?
Well, it's interesting because we get this question a lot. While we are an art museum and we're big in the visual representation and aesthetics of pieces we also feature a collection of design. We're a design department and we take in aesthetics as well as other criteria and the design creates some of the context for what we're collecting. The criteria [for video games] is the aesthetics, behavior, and the time/space that you play the game in and the that occurs within the game as well as the time you spend playing. So all of those factors are part of the larger idea of what we want to earmark for collecting.

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