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March 22, 2010 8:01 PM   Subscribe

MoMA has acquired the @ symbol into its collection, and provides a short history on @ to accompany the announcement.

"The acquisition of @...relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore it sets curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that “cannot be had”—because they are too big (buildings, Boeing 747’s, satellites), or because they are in the air and belong to everybody and to no one, like the @—as art objects befitting MoMA’s collection. The same criteria of quality, relevance, and overall excellence shared by all objects in MoMA’s collection also apply to these entities."
posted by emilyd22222 (107 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
wh@?
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on March 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


My monocle just dropped out and my h@ flew off!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:10 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


What Have We Acquired?


Tino Sehgal’s Kiss presents interesting affinities with @ in that it is mutable and open to interpretation (the different typefaces one can use) yet still remains the same in its essence: it does not declare itself a work of design, but rather reveals its design power through use; it is immaterial and synthetic, and therefore does not add unnecessary “weight” to the world.

A big difference between the two pieces is the price, which brings to an extreme the evanescent difference between art and design. Being in the public realm, @ is free. It might be the only truly free—albeit not the only priceless—object in our collection.

We have acquired the design act in itself and as we will feature it in different typefaces, we will note each time the specific typeface as if we were indicating the materials that a physical object is made of.


I would like some of what their curators are smoking, please. Wow.
posted by zarq at 8:11 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


it sets curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that “cannot be had”—because they are too big (buildings, Boeing 747’s, satellites)

I have just acquired the Universe into my collection. All your @s now belong to me. Take th@, MoMA.
posted by sallybrown at 8:11 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


recently in the Spanish language it has begun to express gender neutrality; for example, in the typical expression Hola l@s viej@s amig@s y l@s nuev@s amig@s!
Is this true? It's been a long time since I studied or spoke Spanish but this seems horrible. Well-intentioned, but horrible.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:14 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


An article on the "Kiss" performance which they cited as precedent.
posted by idiopath at 8:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


This immediately followed their announcement of aquiring "some really primo shit from Costa Rica."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [17 favorites]


Yeah, Fiasco, 100% true. I'm studying in Spain currently and saw it today in an ad. It's generally just once or twice in a sentence though.
Makes sense, really. Pretty well signifies an O and an A. Horrendous to read, though.
also, Spanish wins for having an actual single word for the symbol, unlike the english language: arroba.
Great one to say out loud. Just rolls off the tounge.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this true?

Data point: My Native South American friend (female, in her 40s, if it matters) writes Latin@s rather than Latino/as.
posted by emilyd22222 at 8:21 PM on March 22, 2010


I'm pretty sure the National Air & Space Museum has some 747s and Satellites.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:24 PM on March 22, 2010


Data point: My Native South American friend (female, in her 40s, if it matters) writes Latin@s rather than Latino/as.

I adore this in theory, but how does it play out in spoken practice?
posted by padraigin at 8:27 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


§ and ¶, not to mention $ and &, are so much cooler than @.

@'s only good feature is allowing me to @:-) so people know when I'm happy and wearing a glorious hat at the same time.
posted by sallybrown at 8:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


A Chinese couple tried to name their baby "@".
posted by Sailormom at 8:31 PM on March 22, 2010


I'm still not sure what they did, after reading the article. Did they secure a variety of physical art pieces that feature the symbol @ in various typefaces?
posted by demiurge at 8:33 PM on March 22, 2010


A Chinese couple tried to name their baby "@"

Tried to name their baby @ what?

[/@bb@t and C@stell@]
posted by sallybrown at 8:34 PM on March 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the National Air & Space Museum has some 747s and Satellites.

Yes, but do they own the concepts of 747s and satellites? Or just some jejune pieces of dusty old hardware?
posted by Naberius at 8:42 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This just makes me want to play Nethack.
posted by hellojed at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


hey no give that @ back how am I gonna use twitter now?
posted by drinkyclown at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2010


Dear Curators of MOMA,

I have the general idea of a bridge. You may acquire it from me for a price.

Also: "What Have We Acquired?" sounds like the wails of the curators after @ has gone on a rampage through New York City, stompin' everything right up.
posted by griphus at 8:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


....Okay, I've spoken in here of the game my college friends and I came up with, which I've named "surrealist's poker", in which we could bet anything. In particular, I'm thinking of one game when I bet Yahtzee. Not a game of Yahtzee, not a Yahtzee set, and not a winning hand at Yahtzee. Just - Yahtzee. As a concept, in and of itself.

The thing, though, is that I was kidding.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think this should be the one thread where people can use the @username convention without being yelled at.
posted by brundlefly at 8:46 PM on March 22, 2010


the wails of the curators

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@!!!!!!
posted by sallybrown at 8:48 PM on March 22, 2010


@brundlefly: Like, totally.
posted by special-k at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2010


brundlefly: I think this should be the one thread where people can use the @username convention without being yelled at.

No.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:02 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why you gotta be be h@tin'?
posted by brundlefly at 9:07 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


be be?
posted by brundlefly at 9:07 PM on March 22, 2010


I think this should be the one thread where people can use the @username convention without being yelled at.

Only if they @monished inst@. Or thrown into a v@.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure the National Air & Space Museum has some 747s and Satellites.

yes, but that's not in New York, thereby lacking in aesthetic authority.
posted by archivist at 9:12 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


be be?<>

"hattin'"?

posted by griphus at 9:17 PM on March 22, 2010


I remember being flabbergasted as a kid when I saw The Empire Strikes Back. Man, the cool battle with the @-@s was amazing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:20 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I call dibs on curly brackets. Yeah, you heard me - right and left. But I might let them go, for the right price. {MoMA, feel free to contact my agent.}
posted by Quietgal at 9:20 PM on March 22, 2010


@
posted by LSK at 9:21 PM on March 22, 2010


}@{
posted by paisley henosis at 9:22 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


(pew pew pew pew pew pew)
posted by paisley henosis at 9:22 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I, Fiasco da Gama, hereby lay claim to ®. It shall henceforth be referred to as the Fiasco da Gama ®®.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:31 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"hattin'"?

h@tin': to put on or wear a hat, more specifically to do so with an emotion reminiscent of hatred; @:-{
posted by sallybrown at 9:35 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still not sure what they did, after reading the article. Did they secure a variety of physical art pieces that feature the symbol @ in various typefaces?

Man, you like just don't get it. I'm not surprised because The Reich always hates modern art. [I think that's the proper dismissive aphorism but I get confused a lot.]

Anyway, MoMA is a lot of famous art people in New York and you are most likely not so you should defer to people who are qualified because they make more money than you.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 9:37 PM on March 22, 2010


Wait, that last part is supposed to be implied, not implicit. Do over, man!
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 9:37 PM on March 22, 2010


explicit! EXPLICIT!

Sorry, man! I got, like, REALLY fixated on the symbol. It's watching me think and it's freaking me OUT!
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 9:40 PM on March 22, 2010


I just wanted to say that @'s Wikipedia page is totally awesome, and that I now want to create an alphastratocus sockpuppet account.
posted by lukemeister at 9:43 PM on March 22, 2010


@MOMA lol
posted by danb at 9:43 PM on March 22, 2010


Also, a story about MoMA that I accidentally told twice.
posted by danb at 9:44 PM on March 22, 2010


Hang on, the MoMA article says:
The @ symbol was known as the ‘”commercial ‘a’” when it appeared on the keyboard of the American Underwood typewriter in 1885
Wikipedia says: "Underwood No. 1 and No. 2s, made between 1896 and 1900" - so even assuming MoMA got the date a bit early they would still be referring to the earlier models.
I'm not sure if this is an Underwood 1 or 2 but I see no @ on the keys.
posted by tellurian at 9:45 PM on March 22, 2010


alphastratocus is my new favorite word.
posted by sallybrown at 9:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


alphastratocus is my new favorite word

It sounds like one of those things they put in yogurt to make it healthy.
posted by lukemeister at 9:51 PM on March 22, 2010


I picture it as a dinosaur made of those multicolored plastic alphabet refrigerator magnets.
posted by sallybrown at 9:53 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't wait to get back to NYC so that I can see the exhibit. I bet the lines are longer for it than they are for the Mona Lisa.
posted by oddman at 9:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still not sure what they did, after reading the article.

They're playing with the notion of acquisition. Traditionally a museum's collection consisted of physical items it owned, but that's starting to break down. For instance, last year MoMA acquired Post-It Notes. They didn't claim ownership or control of anyone else's Post-It Notes, or Post-It Notes in general-- they just went down to Staples, got a pad, and put it on a shelf in the basement. Acquisitions like that aren't about ownership because you're not acquiring something unique. It doesn't stop other people from owning it, or adding it to their own collections; it just brings it to the attention of others as something MoMA thinks is pretty neat.

It's sort of like curating a list of the twentieth century's most awesome moustaches. I can add Wilhelm II's sweet handlebar to my collection, but I don't claim ownership of the physical moustache, nor do I bar MoMA from including it in its own handlebar moustache collection.

Eventually museums will begin "acquiring" classical works that are physically owned by other museums. That should be fun.
posted by phooky at 9:59 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


alphastratocus is my new favorite word
Ah yes, the B-87 Alphastratocus, the USAF's sixth-generation stealth all-environments multi-terrain cyber warfare ground attack carrier-capable strategic bomber and humanitarian transport helicopter. I hear it can deliver a payload of 16 tonnes, and deeper in debt.

(Mind you, I use bookdepository.co.uk. They're not bad either.)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:02 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey MoMA, I've got a bridge you can acquire.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 PM on March 22, 2010


Just wait till the MOMA discovers Dwarf Fortress.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 10:05 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


But have they acquired the ))<>(( symbol yet?

This is funny, though.
posted by interrobang at 10:06 PM on March 22, 2010


Stonestock, that is priceless. Boatmurdered, at least, deserves curation.
posted by Fraxas at 10:13 PM on March 22, 2010


Their next acquisition is rumored to be my portrait of John Lennon: //o-o\\
posted by sallybrown at 10:14 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm beginning a new movement. I'm going to be called an abstract-figurativeist. My movement rebels agains form and function, primitivism and modernity, materialism and idealism.

My art exists but has already been lost.

I exhibit all around the world but I never know what, where or when.

I always arrive at a "gallery" anxious to know what my art is going to be. What will materialize out of the ether.

Unfortunately I always arrive an hour late, or the "museum" has been moved to another city (or century).

Also, my art is so expensive that the currency with which you purchase it hasn't been invented yet.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have acquired the idea and history of omonra's art, and will be selling it for US dollars (or gold).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have just acquired the legendary middle finger symbol for my collection. I do expect a licensing fee for its use.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:53 PM on March 22, 2010


                     /"\
                    |\./|
                    |   |
                    |   |
                    |>~<|
                    |   |
                 /'\|   |/'\..
             /~\|   |   |   | \
            |   =[@]=   |   |  \
            |   |   |   |   |   \
            | ~   ~   ~   ~ |`   )
            |                   /
             \                 /
              \               /
               \    _____    /
                |--//''`\--|
                | (( +==)) |
                |--\_|_//--| [unlicensed]

posted by finite at 11:11 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having worked on a similar piece of conceptual art for over fifteen years now, I have to say that valid art criticism is only ever made by other art.

The fine art industry is even remarkably immune to criticism–except that presented in the form of art.

Want to criticize a band? Be in your own. Want to criticize a painter? Get materials and show us want you mean.

The same holds true for dance, film, fashion, sculpture, writing, song and poetry. And, of course, performance.

Many of us may criticize art and artists. But at the end of it all what is remembered is what remains, and that will be an impression based upon an experience related to expression.

The deepest impressions are made by the most personal experiences of unusual expression. It can be singular, it can be multiple, it can be powerful, it can be subtle. But [an impression] left by [an experience] caused by [an expression] is art.

This has little or nothing to do with good or bad. It has to do with work.

If anyone knows this it is me. My former-conspirator Frank Shepard Fairey may be a lot of things but he is no slouch. While everyone else would be out partying or busy doing nothing really, we would be doing paste-ups or stickering or silkscreening or designing or planning doin those things or else getting supplies.

Not once or twice a week. But everyday from the waking to sleeping. For decades. Regardless if this was/is compulsive or ADDH–or even rotten–the fact is the work enabled the expression to be noticed; good or bad, the art by way of the working spoke for itself. And in a very real sense, the amount of work being done was the biggest form of criticism of other work and other artists (and, most notably, non-graffito art movements) out there.

Tino Seghal worked on this piece for two years. Seghal has an international reputation and a solid dedication to a method of expression. Whatever happened at this performance, whether it was dumb or boring or spectacular, chances are in some way it was mightily transformative.

And in my opinion and my experience, artists' enabling transformation is more than simply "the most any of us can hope for", it's the best we can as well.

Seghal's piece was stellar or it wasn't, but the only way I know to say anything about it is to do something about it.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:14 PM on March 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


I call dibs on schwa: ə
posted by chavenet at 11:36 PM on March 22, 2010


I have to say that valid art criticism is only ever made by other art.

Hello! This is a work of art cleverly disguised as a MetaFilter comment. Your obsession with whatever "art" is contained in the @ symbol is meaningless, irrelevant, obsolete, and generally uninteresting to the rest of the world. Whatever happened at Seghal's performance was definitely an art but it was almost certainly stupid.

You can get the above artwork in a framed print by contacting the artist at the URL below.
posted by shii at 11:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


finite, Matt will be receiving my DMCA takedown notice in the morning, cuz all your birds is belong to US. (under a creative commons license, of course)
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:52 PM on March 22, 2010


I already did my abstract-figurative art piece to critique the purchase of the @ sign, I just don't know where I put it or what it is...
posted by Omon Ra at 11:59 PM on March 22, 2010


And people wonder why modern art has such a low reputation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:20 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


next up... the circle-A? they could put it on the shelf next to little arroba, so it don't get lonely. course, that might lead to insurrection.
posted by lapolla at 1:21 AM on March 23, 2010


And people wonder why modern art has such a low reputation.

You do realize that it was the Department of Architecture and Design that added it to their collection, right? I'm not sure how it relates to modern art at all.
posted by skullbee at 2:58 AM on March 23, 2010


Yo, is someone going to explain how Hispanophones pronounce "latin@s"? I can only b@e my bre@h for so long.
posted by No-sword at 3:45 AM on March 23, 2010


Why does that MoMA article read suspiciously like an April Fool's story that accidentally got posted a couple of weeks early?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:18 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this anything like the Game?
posted by slimepuppy at 4:40 AM on March 23, 2010


Where it's @?

Got one talky thread and the MoMA, homes.

Where it's @!
posted by The Whelk at 5:16 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hungarian has colorful words for the @ sign - kukac (worm), csiga (snail), ormány (trunk - as in an elephant's trunk), and bejgli (a rolled-up pastry with nuts).

I think this should be the one thread where people can use the @username convention without being yelled at.

Yes, no yelling; for this thread only, it will be acceptable to simply execute them without comment.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:39 AM on March 23, 2010


Germans, Poles, and South Africans call @ “monkey’s tail” in each different language. Norwegians see a pig’s tail, Chinese a little mouse, and Italians and the French, a snail. For the Russians @ symbolizes a dog, while the Finnish know @ as the miukumauku, meaning the “sign of the meow,” and believe that the symbol is inspired by a curled-up sleeping cat.

I think we know this is the real reason @ is considered artful, not because of some silly old ARPAnet nerd. Now I'm going to rent my sleepy-c@ out to local galleries for fame and tuna.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 5:57 AM on March 23, 2010


"I just wanted to say that @'s Wikipedia page is totally awesome,..."

Except that as mentioned above it has no love for Roguelikes.
So uh, it's not like I've done more than make a couple of teensy spelling corrections* to Wikipedia but if you make an addition/change that "they" frown on do they come and kill you or something?

*Yeah me, I know.
posted by vapidave at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2010


Italians are still undecided whether to pronounce it at or, as the article mentions, chiòcciola (key-och-ola), meaning snail.

But it's sneaking into text-message abbreviations as at, representing either the pronunciation (Sentiamoci in ch@ = Let's chat) or the sense (Vediamoci @ 5 = Vediamo alle cinque = See you at 5 o'clock).
posted by aqsakal at 6:46 AM on March 23, 2010


vapidave: So uh, it's not like I've done more than make a couple of teensy spelling corrections* to Wikipedia but if you make an addition/change that "they" frown on do they come and kill you or something?

Most of my wiki edits are to change the captions under the photos to make fun of the person in them, or to make fun of the caption they wrote about themselves. I usually get a private message (even though I don't have an account) that I ignore and nothing else happens. Interestingly, if you access wiki from a public wifi spot, you will usually see a large back-log of these messages, as they are sent out by IP address.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:05 AM on March 23, 2010


Mike Mongo - "I have to say that valid art criticism is only ever made by other art"

How would you respond to the fact that, say, poets are frequently literary critics?

How does your argument relate to artists (of whatever genre) who have been influenced by written criticism?

It seems that you would have to argue that the piece of criticism that influenced someone to create something is itself a piece of art. If "[An impression] left by [an experience] caused by [an expression] is art", then "[an opinion] left by [reading] a [piece of written criticism]" is a totally valid permutation of that rule.

In which case your above statement is basically "valid art criticism is only ever made by valid art criticism."

So is kinda meaningless.

Could you clarify?
posted by Cantdosleepy at 7:09 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


When it comes to pwning the keyboard, Metafilter has MoMA beat by a mile. We already have:

Alvy Ampersand
interrobang
octothorpe
schwa

Anybody else? We're all characters around here, but what other symbols and sigils do we have? Typography nerds, represent!
posted by Quietgal at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2010


Is this how we got "Precious, Based on the Novel Push, by Sapphire"?
posted by Naberius at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2010


I think this is stupid. I'm an artist myself and I think this is stupid. You can express your feelings about this stupidness of this by making a work of art or through critique (which can be thought of as a work of art, as well), but this, this is stupid.

200 years from now, no one will know or care about either some kissing thing or the fact that these people have gotten so conceptual that there's not even any art left.

When we talk about the great works of art, I mean the great ones, the ones that have survived, it's because the works themselves are amazing and timeless, and can stand on their own as some kind of universal window into humanity. The paintings of Rembrandt or Van Gogh, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart or Beethoven, etc. etc. If these works were re-discovered after an apocalypse, I'd argue that the humans regarding them would still be moved whether or not they had any context.

If a work of art requires an explanation, there's no work of art, there's only an explanation. A work of art ought to be able to stand on its own.

Orson Welles didn't have to put up a little plaque next to Citizen Kane for it to have any meaning for the audience. It is a real work of art, it stands on its own.

Duchamp might have been historically important, but this is the logical conclusion of his pranking the art establishment, and what it has done is to say that the work isn't important. Craft isn't important. As long as you have a concept, you don't actually have to do anything with it. That's called being lazy.

That's why studio art and "fine art" have been becoming more and more marginalized in our society. As they have been getting further and further away from doing anything meaningful, and getting caught up in "conceptual art" rather than actual, you know, making things, the populace has, for the most part, been turning their backs from them.

This is just the latest in a long line of stupid.
posted by MythMaker at 8:04 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


High-end Gallery art has become it's own closed genre for a while now - most of the art is predicated on the idea that this is a thing in a museum - there are other markets that do everything from Juxapoz-style "pop surrealism" to Kinkade-y pastorals - but they don't get into the big museums or get the press. The various art world genres don't talk to each other much and tend to be deliberately opaque.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 AM on March 23, 2010


Can we include all the previous threads about "what is art" and "why criticism is / isn't valid" by reference here? It would really save everyone a lot of time that we've already wasted.
posted by rusty at 8:25 AM on March 23, 2010


If a work of art requires an explanation, there's no work of art, there's only an explanation. A work of art ought to be able to stand on its own.

It's not being recognized as piece of art, for crying out loud! It's part of the DESIGN COLLECTION, not part of the fine art collection. If you have a problem with the @ symbol not being worthy for consideration as an interesting design artifact that's fine. Just because it's called the Museum of Modern Art doesn't mean everything in its collections are art objects.
posted by skullbee at 8:26 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The acquisition of @...relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore it sets curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that "cannot be had""

I am so totally going to use this as an internal justification the next time I'm downloading something I probably shouldn't be.
posted by quin at 8:28 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


HA HA ART FAIL.

/skullbee aggravation :)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:32 AM on March 23, 2010


HA HA READING & COMPREHENSION FAIL.
posted by i_cola at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2010


Seriously, i_cola?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2010


Wait, that was i_rony, wasn't it?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:50 AM on March 23, 2010


When we talk about the great works of art, I mean the great ones, the ones that have survived, it's because the works themselves are amazing and timeless, and can stand on their own as some kind of universal window into humanity. The paintings of Rembrandt or Van Gogh, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart or Beethoven, etc. etc. If these works were re-discovered after an apocalypse, I'd argue that the humans regarding them would still be moved whether or not they had any context.

And yet all those examples you mentioned were reviled in their day, especially by other artists, like yourself. Not saying you're right or wrong, just that it's not always so easy to determine what works of art are timeless.
posted by ekroh at 11:03 AM on March 23, 2010


The primary focus of my job is running the collections database for a midsize art museum in Minneapolis; as non-physical "things" start to creep into our collection, my hair gets steadily grayer because of the cataloging problems they present. I spent an hour last week arguing about the pointlessness of trying to assign a physical location to a digital file.

My very jaundiced view is that conceptual fun and games are fine for some people but a giant pain in the ass for people who have to bring some pragmatism to the museum world.
posted by COBRA! at 11:12 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


To the few in this thread who are indignant about MOMA's acquisition here: consider that this is partly the institution's way of questioning the role of institutions at large. I suspect the curators in this instance, while dead serious, have at least the tips of their tongues in their cheeks. There is some meta- play on the notion of private v. cultural ownership of 'things' that gain most of their iconographic import from the fact that they are products of mass culture. Duchamp kicks it off with his 'fountain' and Warhol hones the idea with soup cans: the collective reaction to these works or art depend on their origination as works of non-art. The question posed by MOMA here is, 'While an individual (or entity) can claim ownership of a specific "work" of art (say, one of Warhol's soup prints), to what degree can all members of society claim ownership of the conditions which are necessary to its being recognized as art at all?'

This isn't just intellectual wankery: as members of mass culture, oughtn't we investigate our own role in the production of our cultural artifacts? The institutionally-approved 'heroes' of post-modern art frequently create work that hinge on the audience's prior knowledge of source material. The values/experiences of the audience is invested not in the the creation of the artifact (hanging on the wall, or in this instance perhaps not even physically present), but in the transformation of the artifact into art.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:44 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whew!

(reaches for a Kleenex . . . )
posted by barrett caulk at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2010


You can't 'acquire @' any more than you can acquire portraiture. You can acquire or exhibit artworks employing the ideas, or a whole collection of them whose juxtaposition highlights the many possible artistic variations on a single concept.

This is just marketing linkbait, and IMHO undermines the museum's mission by alienating the curious.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:47 PM on March 23, 2010


Marketing linkbait is right. It's just one more step increasing the distance between the actual creation of artistic works and the "fine art" culture.

Luckily for most of us, we can continue to be oblivious of what kind of wankery they are doing, and continue to enjoy the mass produced and consumed art forms: films, tv, music, books, video games. Unfortunately, because of the descent into "conceptualism," they can't even sell me a nice reproduction of @ to hang above my sofa. There's no there there.

Stupidity and wankery.

The work that survives may not be obvious to everyone why it is important, but there is something in the work which resonates. Mozart makes you FEEL whether or not you have any idea who he was or what the work was supposed to be about.

Duchamp's urinal? Only interesting as a historical artifact. Show it to someone out of context, and there is no work. Show someone Rembrandt out of context, and I suspect you'll see a very different reaction.
posted by MythMaker at 2:03 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


barrett caulk, I must disagree even though I'm a fan of Duchamp and his contemporaries.

To prove my point, I now demand a Guggenheim fellowship, exhibition space, and any other high value benefits on offer, including the highest price available at auction, for my lack of paintings, sculptures, drawings and other art works and indeed my failure to rent empty spaces showcasing this lack.

Why? Because it's my artistic comment on sterility, emptiness, and a general deficit of creativity and hard work. Those who encounter a bare gallery or read about my getting something for nothing will naturally cry 'where's the art, dammit? I want some art!', and I think this effectively makes the point that the absence of art leads to dissatisfaction, thus emphasizing the necessity of art to be manifest in some form in order for a satisfying cultural experience to take place.

Now pay up, dammit. I have formulated a conceptual work which is pretty much guaranteed to produce an emotional reaction, especially from anyone unlucky enough to purchase a ticket to attend an exhibition about my creative vacuum. I pretty much guarantee that attending an exhibition of nothing at all will be a memorable experience for the vast majority of interested patrons, one which will cause them to consider the nature of art and creativity in a fundamentally new way.

Not persuaded? Well read my manifesto. Here:
posted by anigbrowl at 2:05 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]



@@@@@ let's make arrangements
posted by Twang at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a @ on this Underwood model but I don't know how old it is.
posted by tellurian at 3:46 PM on March 23, 2010


Never mind Wikipedia's 'At sign' page, the world's first commercially produced typewriter is the Hansen Writing Ball of 1870. And seen at several world exhibitions -years- before the Underwood crapped its first crap.

Dozens (hundreds?) of American 'inventions' of the 19th century were 'discovered' in Europe. Someone needs to write a book.
posted by Twang at 3:52 PM on March 23, 2010


it's a pretty good pun, since @ does indicate an acquisition, of sorts.

i think it's awesome to see a staunch cultural institution exhibit a sense of humor. much of modern art is based on concept; this indicates MoMA is actually workin' hard to keep up - even if the concept of modernity is kind of mid-last-century.

where's your sense of humor, meta peeps?
posted by lapolla at 4:20 PM on March 23, 2010


where's your sense of humor, meta peeps?

sense of humor =/= refraining from mockery
posted by sallybrown at 4:24 PM on March 23, 2010


Okay fine. I am just gonna have to be all like "Hola mis amigats latinats!" And when they laugh @ me, I will cry a single @-shaped tear.
posted by No-sword at 4:45 PM on March 23, 2010


yeah - i am not sensing good-natured mockery from most of these posts. i'm seeing a lot of indignant self-entitlement -- to the point that some of this mimics the type of mockery from the right-wing.

i mean - for example, anigbrowl DID just create a marvelous little artwork - simply in conceptualizing it. and anyone who read it payed up, by paying attention to it. while the effort coulda been playful and about discussing the concept, instead it just came across as peevish and bitter. apologies if i misinterpreted.

and that's one of the better bits of "mockery" in this thread...
posted by lapolla at 4:46 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not mockery you're seeing in this thread; it's ridicule, because it's a ridiculous non-action that itself makes a mockery of art. It's an insult. It's spit in the face of art. It's all the confirmation laypeople need that art is nothing but dumb wanky bullshit. Even if it was "acquired" by the design department, fuck that.

Now, that said, if they'd gone with, say, $, which has a similar and arguably more interesting history, and would be funnier, I'd probably dig it. @ just reeks of 1990s Information Superhighway "synergy." Like they're desperate to be relevant, and think this bullshit is somehow going to prove it once and for all, like your dad saying he enjoys that Snoopy Dog-Dog fellow. Please.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


lapolla, I am indeed peevish. But it's not because I hate out-there arguments about what qualifies as art, or even conceptual art. I'm peevish because this sort of wank on MoMA's part (blathering about acquisition of the intangible, rather than just showcasing an interesting development) is exactly what devalues The Arts in the mind of the general public, and which has led to a precipitous drop in the available funding.

MoMA's job is to preserve and curate our cultural heritage, not revel in what clever little pixies they are. If this was truly motivated by a desire to amuse and entertain, they could have waited a week and announced their acquisition on April 1 - in which case I would have considered it excellent comedy. Unfortunately, I think they actually take this nonsense seriously.

By the way, when I said I wanted to be paid I meant in c@$h. I already get all the attention I need from that guy in my bathroom mirror, and frankly he's starting to creep me out a bit. Security gates cost real money, so fork it over you philistine.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:22 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeah - i am not sensing good-natured mockery from most of these posts. i'm seeing a lot of indignant self-entitlement -- to the point that some of this mimics the type of mockery from the right-wing.

Which art is being mocked? Because there are two definitions. There's one where we say the Exploratorium or Apollo 11 is a "work of art", because it's the result of a lot of hard effort and mastery of what it set out to accomplish. And then there's the random bullshit that goes in galleries, which nobody can really explain.

A few years ago I went to the donut building at the Smithsonian. There was a bed there. Just an ordinary bed. I reached out to touch the bed and see what materials it was made of, and BEEP BEEP BEEP! An alarm went off! I guess that bed was an art. I think MeFi users are expressing the hope that we won't have to put an alarm system around the @ sign.
posted by shii at 8:35 PM on March 23, 2010


This 1917 Underwood has an @.
Where is keyboardlayout.org when you need it?
posted by tellurian at 9:54 PM on March 23, 2010


That's nothimg—I've just acquired the MoMA.
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2010


Call it the debasing influence of movies, but I always thought art thief would be an interesting profession. I think I'm going to start in on a new career by stealing this @ that the MoMA has recently acquired.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:06 AM on March 27, 2010


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