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Pablo-and-tom
Games Artists Play, at MoMA
Pablo Helguera (left) and the author (right)

Pablo Helguera (left) and the author (right)

Teaching a workshop on art and game theory is the second cooperative venture Pablo Helguera and I have undertaken in the last couple of years. The first was a diet. Bear with me; the two are not unrelated. Frustrated with our personal efforts to shed a couple of pounds, we were ready for an experiment. A website offered a new set of motivations: We were required to report our weight to one another on a weekly basis, to allow our wives to monitor our progress, and (here is the kicker) we gave them our credit card information with the understanding that if we failed to lose the specified weight, we would automatically donate money to the National Rifle Association (NRA). How is this related? Game theory studies how and why people make decisions. Pablo and I wanted to lose weight but we also enjoyed eating —and the latter was prevailing, one dessert at a time. The structure of the diet added new elements to our decisions—our weight became public, our competitive natures were activated, and given our feelings about the NRA, our political and moral sense was now at stake in our menu decisions. No donations were made. The pounds melted away. It would have been a considerably different situation if the rules had been changed—for example if there were a slim and happy winner and a loser who ignominiously and publicly contributed to the NRA. Had we entered a diet with those rules we might have emerged even thinner, but as friends, we most likely would not have joined in the first place.

Game theory opens a set tools to think about rational and irrational decisions. These decisions are always conceived in terms of pairs and groups—otherwise they are not games—so we can begin to understand how we decide what to do in relation to other people. If we are interested in art that is relational, interactive, cooperative, or participatory perhaps we should look at this theory of relations. Pablo and I are not experts in game theory. But we both think games like the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Dictator Game, the Ultimatum Game, and others are interesting starting points for a discussion of interpersonal behavior. When played in public—as we intend to do in the class—the games have an interesting performative quality that can lead to a rich conversation on a topic we are quite conversant in—participatory, cooperative art. Quite frankly, as much as we have written about social practice art, this is a new field, and we are all still struggling to get a handle on how to think about it.

I’m looking forward to the workshop as an experiment in this emerging discussion and hope you will join us on October 22 and 24 at MoMA for Games Artists Play: The Game as a Socially Engaged Art Form.

 

 

Moma-workers-whitaker
MoMA Class: The Market Is the Medium
caption TK

Workers dining outside the Museum on 54 Street before an exhibition opening. Photo: Amy Whitaker

I first started teaching business as a creative practice when I landed at the Slade School of Fine Art in London to study for an MFA in painting—MBA already in hand.  Read more

Cyclo-150x150
An Interview with cyclo. (Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai)
cyclo. (Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai) in performance, 2011. Photo: YCAM Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media

cyclo. (Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai) in performance, 2011. Photo: YCAM Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media

In conjunction with the Museum’s first major exhibition of sound art, Soundings: A Contemporary Score, MoMA’s PopRally committee is thrilled to present the first U.S. performance by cyclo. (Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda), entitled cyclo.id., on October 6. Read more

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September 23, 2013  |  Events & Programs, Learning and Engagement
The Real History of Multimedia
Homage to New York: a Self-Constructing & Self-Destroying Work of Art Conceived and Built by Jean Tinguely. Exhibition Date: March 17, 1960. Photographer: David Gahr

Homage to New York: a Self-Constructing and Self-Destroying Work of Art Conceived and Built by Jean Tinguely. The Museum of Modern Art, March 17, 1960. Photo: David Gahr

I began my scholarly work on the history of multimedia when I discovered, much to my surprise and dismay, that most people thought it all started in the 1980s with the personal computer and the CD-ROM. Read more

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September 6, 2013  |  Events & Programs, MoMA PS1, Warm Up
Warm Up 2013: A Platform for Design
Delicate SteveFort Makers stage set design for Warm Up 2012 at MoMA PS1. Photo: Charles Roussel

Delicate Steve performs in Fort Makers’ stage set design for Warm Up 2011 at MoMA PS1. Photo: Erin Kornfeld

In the MoMA PS1 spirit of always being committed to finding opportunity for art in all places, Warm Up’s stage design initiative, in its fourth year, is making it’s own impact on the frenetic, interdisciplinary collision that makes Warm Up what it is.

Our Warm Up parties are explosive and dramatic interactions between musicians, artists whose work is on view in our galleries, young architects, curators, production masterminds, ecstatic sun-dappled dancers, M. Wells’ insanely delicious barbecue (which is not to be mistaken for anything less than art—try those blueberry slushies and you’ll know what I mean…) Read more

Asking the Big Questions: Agora Conversations in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden
Agora: What makes something art?, facilitated by Petra Pankow. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, July 9, 2013

Agora: What makes something art?, facilitated by Petra Pankow. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, July 9, 2013

“What do we want from museums?” As the topic for the final meeting of this summer’s educator-facilitated, public discussion series, Agora, this question fittingly articulated the line of thinking that motivated the program’s unique format and approach. While Agora (named after the ancient Greek tradition of philosophical inquiry) Read more

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Introducing Teens.MoMA.org
Teens.MoMA.org, the new site for everything MoMA Teens-related

Teens.MoMA.org, the new site for everything MoMA Teens-related

Every year, we bring hundreds of NYC teens through our studio doors to take part in dozens of free hands-on art-making programs. From In the Making to the MoMA + MoMA PS1 Cross-Museum Collective to our recently created Digital Advisory Board, we are constantly looking to find new ways of engaging young audiences Read more

Rick-moody-150x150
July 9, 2013  |  Events & Programs
2013 Poet Laureate Wrap-Up
Vito Acconci and Maria Mirabal

A Guerrila Reading by Vito Acconci and Maria Mirabal in the exhibition Hand Signals: Digits, Fists, and Talons, June 26, 2013. Part of Uncontested Spaces: Guerrilla Readings in MoMA Galleries

It’s been a remarkable year for poetry at MoMA. I threatened to slather the Museum with poetry, and I did. By the time it was finished, I brought over 125 poets, novelists, essayists, artists, and musicians into MoMA to do public interventions. Read more

Xs1-150x150
July 2, 2013  |  Artists, Events & Programs
Embodying the Archive: Xaviera Simmons on Archive as Impetus (Not on View)
An Archive as Impetus performance in MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Photograph courtesy of Xaviera Simmons)

An Archive as Impetus (Not on View) performance in MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Photograph by Martin Seck

Plenty of people think of museums, libraries, and archives as stagnant and apolitical places; sites where histories are not created, but simply preserved. In her performance Archive as Impetus (Not on View)—presented several times per week during the month of June as part of MoMA’s Artists Experiment initiative—artist Xaviera Simmons asked viewers to reconsider the role of the museum. Read more

Exchange-cafe-150x150
June 25, 2013  |  Events & Programs
Café as Learning Format, Part 2
MoMA Studio: Exchange Café furniture by Caroline Woolard. Photo by Ryan Tempro

MoMA Studio: Exchange Café furniture by Caroline Woolard. Photo by Ryan Tempro

When I was asked to propose a new learning format to MoMA, I suggested a café because I wanted to create a social space where meaning is made in dialogue, where objects can be touched, and where visceral knowledge is honored. MoMA Studio: Exchange Café is a social space dedicated to exchange, from unconventional encounters to barter and reciprocal economies. Read more