Paola Antonelli’s Mission to Collect Video Games Continues with MoMA’s New Acquisitions

The Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art announced today that it has acquired a new gaming console and six new video games.

The seven objects, which join 14 other games acquired by MoMA seven months ago and displayed in the museum’s current Applied Design exhibition, include works by Atari, Taito, and Ralph Baer, as well as a piece by newcomer Mojang:

Magnavox Odyssey (1972)
Pong (1972)
Space Invaders (1978)
Asteroids (1979)
Tempest (1981)
Yar’s Revenge (1982)
Minecraft (2011)
In the months since Architecture and Design senior curator Paola Antonelli first brought video games to MoMA, critics have engaged in a debate about their relevance and role in an institution of MoMA’s disposition and caliber. The Guardian published an editorial simply titled “Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art,” decrying the exhibition of works by Van Gogh alongside Sim City and Dwarf Fortress, insisting that not all three works constitute “art.” The writer, Jonathan Jones, explains: “A work of art is one persons’ reaction to life. Any definition of art that robs it of this inner response by a human creator is a worthless definition. Art may be made with a paintbrush or selected as a ready-made, but it has to be an act of personal imagination.” It remains unclear whether or not the writer has ever taken a course in art history.
Paola Antonelli, who we can confirm has not only taken but also taught courses in the history of art and design, counters naysayers with the explanation that video games function both as art and design objects: “The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design — a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity… the programming language takes the place of the wood or plastics, and the quality of the interaction translates in the digital world what the synthesis of form and function represent in the physical one.” Cue Lana del Rey.
- Anna Kats
Photo via MoMA.