In conversation with graphic designer and artist Somnath Bhatt about his oeuvre
by Sukanya DebAug 04, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Feb 01, 2023
Of the many 'fads' of the 80s and 90s that people thought would fade away, video games has perhaps been one of the most interesting incorrect predictions. From contraptions at the arcade to games that run on MS-DOS on personal computers, video games have had an interesting trajectory, in their technological evolution, design, and storytelling capabilities. The very fact that The Last of Us, an action-adventure game released in 2013, is now a television series, speaks to the depth of the stories being told in these games. One would be amiss to not recognise the larger impact of video games in our contemporary world.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired its first selection of video games in 2012. This repository was realised into an exhibition titled Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design. The exhibition brings together examples of interactive design from MoMA’s collection, including computer interfaces, icons, apps, and 35 video games. This exhibition is also a representation of the Museum’s commitment to collecting interactive design. From computer terminals of the 1960s to the websites of today, digital technologies affect our conception of time, spatial understanding, and connectivity. Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design breaks the mould and the preconceived notion of interactive design being limited to screens, to go beyond.
Organised by Paola Antonelli, senior curator; Paul Galloway, collection specialist; and Anna Burckhardt, curatorial assistant, at the Department of Architecture and Design, the exhibition investigates how interactive design informs our contemporary lives, the way we move through life and conceive space, time, and connections, well beyond the game screen. Antonelli summarised the intention of the exhibition stating, “The interfaces we use to access the digital universe are visual and tactile manifestations of code that both connect and separate us, and shape the way we behave and perceive life. Design is all around us, goes the adage, in everything we touch, use, feel, and eat. Ever since digital tools have become ubiquitous, interactive design has become the conduit to systems of all kinds, from communication and information to transportation, supply, and more. It is in the touch commands on the screen of an ATM machine or of a smartphone, and in the interface of an ICU monitor. Interactive design runs a great part of our lives.”
Taking its name from a re-released video game Never Alone (Kisima Inŋgitchuŋa) (2014), the exhibition occupies the ground floor of MoMA. It is conceptualised as three sections: the Input, the Designer, and the Player. These three aspects are integral to understanding how interactive design works. Without these three points of contact, that is, the physical interaction, the designer, and the player none of the games would exist. One would assume that the player is perhaps not an integral part of this triumvirate. But if nobody plays the game, is it really even a game or just a dead program and a set of codes? This idea is further enhanced by the fact that of the 35 games that are part of exhibit 10 of them are actually playable by the visitors.
The Input focuses on the user’s physical interactions with the digital world. This includes tangible objects such as keyboards, joysticks, and touchscreens. The objects, interfaces, and icons featured in the exhibition were selected as trailblazing examples of interactive design. The second section examines the Designer’s impact on players’ experiences. This includes early apps such as The Reactive Square (1994) and Papers, Please (2013). These two sections explain and explore the different ways in which a user will meet the digital or the machine. It also reveals the importance of having a clear connection between a digital experience and the tangible object that connects the user to that experience. This is especially true in the case of video games.
In the third section, Player, the exhibition explores how the user by the act of interacting can define and reshape games and apps. Some of the video games that visitors can interact with include SimCity 2000 (1993) and Minecraft (2011). Both these games have a very interesting aspect of world-building and showcase how players have and continue to personalise these digital worlds.
When discussing the players one would be amiss not to discuss the popularisation of video games as a sport. With tournaments taking place across the globe, many of these games have created a new sportsman, the gamer. In fact, until November of 2022, one of the most followed individuals on YouTube was Felix Kjellberg, better known by his pseudonym PewDiePie. Kjellberg gained popularity for his 'Let's Play' videos, which saw millions of subscribers logging in to watch the Swedish YouTuber play rather than playing the game themselves. Interactive design is not independent of the spectacle. While the digital world may oftentimes offer anonymity and secrecy, it also facilitates the performative aspects of creating a spectacle. It is likely that a great part of the success of a game might depend on the player, not only on the designer.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication that explores the impact of interactive design by examining 35 video games created between 1972 and 2018. Moving across a spectrum of stories from Space Invaders (1978) and Pac-Man (1980) to The Sims (2000) and Minecraft. An overarching essay presents the pioneering criteria by which MoMA has selected these video games for its collection, as well as the protocols for their acquisition, display, and conservation.
The exhibition 'Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design' is on view until July 16, 2023.
by ERCO Mar 24, 2023
The German lighting brand adds Uniscan to its extensive repository of lighting designs, with a clear focus on art galleries and museums.
by Jeroen Junte Mar 24, 2023
Droog, that changed the perspective of design, returns to Milan for the very last time with the show Droog30: Design or Non-Design? at the Triennale di Milano.
by Vladimir Belogolovsky Mar 23, 2023
Vladimir Belogolovsky talks to New York-based preservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos about the nature and extent of pollution and its role in his transformation into an artist.
by Sunena V Maju Mar 21, 2023
Artistic director of Dior men and Fendi womenswear, Kim Jones collaborated with Hennessy to create a limited-edition collection featuring a sneaker, decanter and a bottle of cognac.
make your fridays matterSUBSCRIBE
Don't have an account?Sign Up
Or you can join with
Please select your profession for an enhanced experience.
Tap on things that interests you.
Select the Conversation Category you would like to watch
Please enter your details and click submit.
Enter the code sent to
What do you think?