Art for Information’s Sake

Designing the welcoming signage for the Museum of Modern Art’s high-profile expansion posed a special challenge. “How can I generate something creative and cohesive that is still informative?” Mikon van Gastel, of Imaginary Forces, asked himself. Using a row of nine 40-inch LCD screens, the designer fashioned what he calls a “kinetic bar code” behind the ticketing desk.

Employing technology most often used live in nightclubs by video-mixing artists, Van Gastel created a backdrop of constantly changing images overlaid with corresponding text—listing ticket prices, exhibitions, bookstore merchandise, or special events. The shifting colors are from digitally captured artworks culled from the MoMA’s diverse permanent collection and current exhibitions. Each “bar code” sliver is programmed to unfurl, randomly juxtaposing, for example, Matisse’s Dance with a Rem Koolhaas architectural rendering, or Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #21 with an image of the Eames’ LCW chair. “When content is nonlinear it becomes like a living, breathing organism constantly responding to its environment,” Van Gastel says. “By embracing the MoMA collection wholeheartedly, the sign has become as much about art as it is about information.”

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