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YouTube / TED

How and Why MoMA Acquired Video Games

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YouTube / TED

In November 2012, the Museum of Modern Art announced its acquisition of a series of iconic video games. The reaction in the art world was, to make a long story short, "video games are not art." (Or more pointedly, Pac-Man is not Picasso.) Predictably, that began a discussion about what art is, and presumably that war will rage forever.

In this TED Talk, Paola Antonelli, the MoMA curator responsible for the acquisition, explains in detail her thought process behind bringing games into the museum. It contains all kinds of interesting stuff I didn't know about -- for instance, the games are intentionally presented without nostalgia, so the game consoles are not visible though the controllers are (because they are necessary to interact with the game). The games are presented in the context of interaction design and specifically not as art, which is a meaningful distinction. And, wildest of all, MoMA acquired the source code wherever it could, or acquired "relationships" with companies where it couldn't, with the intent that down the road the source code would be provided when it was no longer a valuable trade secret. This last bit is particularly interesting, when you think of what the museum does when it adds items to its permanent collection -- having the source code is a big part of actually preserving a game over the long span of history and understanding how it actually functions at a deep level.

So if you're into games, art, design, or just wonder how MoMA chose the first fourteen games (why no Grand Theft Auto?), this talk is for you.

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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photography
This Is What Flowers Look Like When Photographed With an X-Ray Machine
Original image
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)

Many plant photographers choose to showcase the vibrant colors and physical details of exotic flora. For his work with flowers, Dr. Dain L. Tasker took a more bare-bones approach. The radiologist’s ghostly floral images were recorded using only an X-ray machine, according to Hyperallergic.

Tasker snapped his pictures of botanical life while he was working at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Hospital in the 1930s. He had minimal experience photographing landscapes and portraits in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he saw an X-ray of an amaryllis, taken by a colleague, that he felt inspired to swap his camera for the medical tool. He took black-and-white radiographs of everything from roses and daffodils to eucalypti and holly berries. The otherworldly artwork was featured in magazines and art shows during Tasker’s lifetime.

Selections from Tasker's body of work have been seen around the world, including as part of the Floral Studies exhibition at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in San Diego in 2016. Prints of his work are also available for purchase from the Stinehour Wemyss Editions and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)

X-ray image of a rose.
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “A Rose” (1936)

All images courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.

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