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So, the Museum of Modern Art in New York has “acquired” the @ for it’s collection, meaning not that it purchased it and all of its rights, but rather that it has included it into its collection as a piece of art worthy of display. (Ownership would require, besides a huge overstepping of copyright laws, an immense commitment to German Idealism that even the MOMA might balk at.) The argument is that the symbol is an incredibly interesting act of design that is worth of inclusion as an art object. Details and a very interesting history of the symbol can be found at their blog.

At first blush, I thought this was odd, but I actually think its kind of cool. @ is a marvelously interesting symbol and reminds us of the efforts put into the creation of letters, fonts and typefaces, and other linguistic elements. (Michael Beard, a colleague of mine in UND’s English Department is working on a book about the Arabic alphabet focusing, I believe, on the same historical and design issues that the MOMA has in mind.)

This acquisition brings many of the same issues as my previous post especially asking what art is in the first place. But this also necessitates a different set of questions, including whether an object’s ubiquity — whether the fact that something is every-present in our field of vision — disqualifies it as an art object. Andy Warhol thought it didn’t, of course, hence the soup can, and neither did Marcel Duchamp who went so far as to place a urinal in a museum exhibit. Others however think these two pieces are not at at all. What do you think? And, what other everyday objects do you think ought to be added to the MOMA collection as outstanding examples of design? (Added difficulty level: no Apple products.)

One comment on “Can everyday objects be transformed into art objects?

  1. Jaynicks says:

    I am told the Navajos say something like.

    As I walk, as I walk
    The universe is walking with me
    In beauty it walks before me
    In beauty it walks behind me
    In beauty it walks below me
    In beauty it walks above me
    Beauty is on every side
    As I walk, I walk with Beauty.

    Seems a nice sentiment. So I can have a dozen cups from Dollar Daze, or two hand thrown ones.

    Two is good.

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