American Museum of the Moving Image
Hanne-Lovise and I went to the Digital Play exhbition at the American Museum of the Moving Image yesterday. The exhibit consists of a series of games in their original form, and you can play them all, from Space Invaders and Asteroids (1979) through the first music game to hit the US (my goodness the interface and aesthetics have improved since 1997) to Rez, the EyeToy and Dance Dance Revolution. We knew of most of the games, and had sort of played several of them, but it was lovely having an empty gallery and plenty of time to play them and to experience the sequence and history of it all. I’m going to buy Rez. And maybe that guitar game, too.
Before you got to the games, a few computers displayed “new narratives” and animations. I wrote a separate review of the one I liked best, though I was disappointed that all the selected “new narratives” were singularly uninteractive. I suppose it’s the Museum of the Moving Image, not of interactivity.
As for the rest of the museum, well, I’ve obviously been completely spoilt by MOMI, the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which was tragically closed in 1999, and there are no real plans to reopen it. While the London MOMI, as I remember it, was largely about letting visitors explore how films are actually, the New York museum mostly consists of slightly dusty collections of movie paraphernalia, although there are some nice exhibits on the third floor that let you play at making animations, look at zoetropes and see a wonderful demostration of how come lots of still images look like fluid movement. You can see yourself superimposed on different backgrounds using a blue screen, too, but that’s it – in London you get to choose between pretending to be Superman flying over buildings and doing the weather forecast. They’ve done a much better job of narrativising it all.
On the other hand, it was totally luxurious having the museum practically to ourselves all afternoon. We had a lot of fun playing games, and a lovely dinner and such a nice time just hanging out.