Top Secret

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Top Secret

May 6, 2008

Anne Keenan

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I feel as if I am in a secret club.

Backstory: One of my best friends, Sarie, works at MoMA, and pretty much anything I know about contemporary art is due to our friendship. Things like: the new Olafur Eliasson microsite that user Flickr to sort user-generated photos, or the fact that you can get AudioGuides on your iPhone or on iTunesU, or PopRally. Aka the secret club.

PopRally describes itself as

a program of events at The Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center that features collaborations with artists and musical acts, performances, film screenings, receptions, and special viewings of exhibitions at moderate prices.

I would describe it as

MoMA hosts amazing events featuring art, film, performance and music, with free booze for $8, aimed at a younger, hipper audience.

So pretty much: a dream come true/secret club.

Take, for example, this past Sunday night. An 8:30 screening of Graffiti Research Lab, the Complete First Season, followed by Q&A, followed by open access to the Design and the Elastic Mind show, followed by a dance party featuring Grolsch beer, Fred water, and fluorescent hot pants-ed dancers. Almost sensory overload. Since you probably couldn’t be there, I’ve got a few highlights for you.

  1. Graffiti Research Lab creates open-source tools for graffiti artists, including things like Throwies and Laser Tag. The video, which was made out of all repurposed content they had already shot/stole from the internet, has the energy of a summer night roaming around the city your friends, making trouble. Definitely worth checking out. Once you’ve watched it, hit me up, and we can discuss.
  2. The discussion afterwards had a few rough spots, but I was really struck by some of the tensions that GRL faces, for instance, between wanting to do all of your projects in an open-source way and supporting yourself. Or between creating agnostic tools and promoting a message. They were very open about making it up as they go along and creating hacks to suit their purposes. At the end I had a question that I didn’t ask, but will ask now. It seems as if their most popular graffiti projects are temporary, which takes a big chunk of graffiti’s rebellion away. MoMA and BAM and Sundance can support Laser Tag (and why wouldn’t they, it’s gorgeous and sophisticated and amazing) partly because at the end of the day they don’t have to repaint their exterior. Is it still graffiti if it isn’t permanent?
  3. Design and the Elastic Mind is a nerd’s dream, featuring maps drawn from internet queries, fruit stickers that indicate ripeness, and bubble screens that spell out messages. It’s only open until 5/12, so hurry on down. If that seems impossible, check out their online exhibition which I think captures the best (so many amazing projects) and most challenging (so many words) aspects of the show. Maybe I’ll listen to the podcast of the audioguide to help me make sense of it all.

And... okay, I’ll let you into the secret club, too. You can sign up for emails here, and see upcoming events here. But if next time the event I want to go to is sold out, I am so never talking to you again.

P.S. JP just asked me if other museums are doing cool things. While I am obviously biased towards MoMA, Museums and the Web is a whole conference based on innovative online projects. You can check out their 2008 winners here.

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