Whatever you may think of video games (new media art form, societal ill, lame waste of time) there was no avoiding them in downtown Denver this summer. From June 7 to July 26, three blocks of Champa Street between 14th Street and the 16th Street Mall were transformed into one big video arcade. Known as Oh Heck Yeah, the project assembled local and national arts groups and businesses to activate this stretch of turf with a variety of programming centered around a series of custom designed, family friendly video games. Designed by Denver-based creative teams Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games were played on the Theatre District’s giant LED screens.
In MoMA’s Applied Design exhibition, which opened over the weekend in The Phillip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries, celebrity curator Paola Antonelli brings us a diverse sampling of recent and contemporary design, from old school video games like Tetris and Pac-Man to 3D printed furniture and energy efficient medical equipment. As in last year’s Talk to Me exhibition, museum guests get the opportunity to interact with the objects on display, including playing the video games. While the connections between the different pieces may be tenuous and visitors may struggle to identify the relationship between Ido Bruno’s Earthquake Proof Table and The Sims, Applied Design allows viewer to see items that have been churning up quite a bit of hype around the blogosphere, such as Massoud Hassani’s wind-powered mine detonator, pairing them with modern relics from the MoMA archives, including drawings from Lebbeus Woods and Douglas Darden. While disjointed, Applied Design does afford a glimpse of the wide varieties of methods, technologies, and materials utilized by today’s design vanguard. The exhibition is on view through January 14, 2014.