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Posts tagged ‘exhibition’

Fall 2015 Cinematheque: Now In Theaters

It goes without saying that the act of viewing in a movie theater or screening room has long been left behind as the sole means of experiencing film. With the ease of home viewing and online streaming, format-specific viewing has also altered dramatically even within the last decade. One of the most significant ways in which this has affected our viewing habits is through binge-watching – not films, but TV and episodal narratives. Many people watch episode after episode of Orange is the New Black or Breaking Bad, but claim not to have the attention span to sit through a ninety-minute film. By this logic, it would seem that seeing a film at the movie theater is now considered a feat of attention and patience. But does the act of viewing in a movie theater truly determine that we will pay attention – and did audiences of previous decades truly devote their undivided attention to the spectacle on the screen? Read more

MoMA’s Uneasy Foray into Video Game Collection and Display

As some already know, MoMA’s design department has recently gotten into the role of acquiring video games as part of their permanent collection, a move that was of great interest to me as a gamer and someone who devotes much of a lot of my scholarship to video games. It so happens that last semester my girlfriend interned in MoMA’s architecture and design department and, as a perk, she was able to bring me along for an intimate, after-hours tour that included the exhibit of the recently acquired video games—a tour made particularly unique[1] because it was led by the senior curators themselves. In the exhibit, the 14 games are displayed with very minimal fanfare (aside from one wall covered in screenshots from Sim City 2000) and even the consoles are hidden behind a blank wall so that just the screens appear with a shelf underneath that holds a set of headphones, and, depending on the game, a controller.  About half of the games are playable while the other half run recorded demos of the games.  I had already read about the exhibit in the NYTimes and had gone to see it for myself, so now I was really excited to get to meet and talk to Paola Antonelli, a Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, who appears to have been the driving force behind the effort to start a video games collection.[2]

From my perspective, MoMA’s decision to begin acquiring and displaying games is another instance of the gatekeepers to high culture slowly aligning themselves with the increasingly accepted notion that video games should be talked about in the same category as other major forms of popular art. This should be a good thing.  For me, gaming still remains a guilty pleasure—a “guilt” that implies this layer of judgment projected on to those around me who still associate gaming with a juvenile pleasure for young males. Maybe it’s for this reason that my own avowed love video games actually makes me more self-conscious about justifying a scholarly engagement—it makes me feel like I have found a way to rationalize remaining a 13-year-old boy well into adulthood.  When MoMA or the Smithsonian starts including games in their collections I feel a little less judgment coming my way (and maybe my mom will be a little less embarrassed to tell her friends what I write scholarly articles about).  Yet, even as I am excited about MoMA’s and Ms. Antonelli’s efforts, I am also skeptical of the two main functions going on here: first, the idea of acquiring games into a permanent collection ostensibly for recognition and preservation and, second, the manner that these games are displayed.  Read more

Seen in Pittsburgh: Ted/Beer-Pong Cinephilia

It’s been a long time since I was trapped in a dark room with groups of loud dirty-mouthed teenage boys. But I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy myself either. That’s part of the pleasure of Seth MacFarlane’s first feature film Ted, or at least the pleasure of sitting in a fully packed movie theater, on a Friday night, with an audience as excited to see the creator of “Family Guy” make a stuffed bear sing songs and smoke pot as any art house crowd anticipating a new 35 mm print of Godard’s Weekend. No, that’s wrong. These Bros were way, way more pumped.[i] So enthused that their pre-screening chatter of summer high-school gossip mash-uped with smart phone updates of the evening baseball scores, peppered with jeers at their classmates entering the theater and choosing seats was only further kindled when the lights went out and the first bright-green preview screen appeared with a room full of cheers and clapping. Then came the Dark Knight Rises trailer, which received boisterous “oh yeahs” for its locally-filmed Pittsburgh production and a single muffled sssh from one of the two middle-aged couples in the theater. Read more