Spring 2008

PROBLEM UNSOLVED!

David Womack
Yugo Nakamura
Picture / MoMA exhibition website

Faced by the eccentricities of a new show, Web legend Yugo Nakamura opts, brilliantly, to flaunt its flaws

‘Design and the Elastic Mind’ is a survey of recent design prototypes and provocations now on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until May 12. The exhibition is organised according to a number of intriguing but vague categories such as ‘Thought to Action’, ‘All Together Now!’ and ‘People and Objects’. Within the gallery, these categories serve primarily as teasers for loose groups of projects that were selected, among other reasons, because they challenge easy categorisation. Any designer asked to present an expanded version of the exhibition online would be tempted to use these categories to navigate the work. But not only could this be frustrating for the user, it would point out what could be considered a flaw in the exhibition itself: these odd categories don’t really encapsulate the projects.

A lesser designer might have tried to ‘fix’ the issue by falling back on conventions such as ‘artist’, ‘medium’, or ‘timeline’ – exactly as the site for ‘Color Chart’ (the other exhibition currently on view at MoMA) does. But instead, Japanese Web design legend Yugo Nakamura (THA) chooses – quite brilliantly – to make the problem worse.

The sedate black background, which presents a list of categories and projects, is suddenly obscured by image bubbles connected by fleeting arcs of colour. It is as if the projects, refusing to lie down in orderly columns, are forcing their way on to the screen. Each image yields a new set of connections – such as ‘scenario’, ‘tinkering’, ‘interfaces’, ‘collective’ and ‘senses’, which lead to other bubbles.

By playfully re-interpreting the process of categorisation, the website design suggests that the goal of the exhibition is not to impose a curatorial perspective, but rather to provide a platform for new connections between these poetic, surprising and often impractical projects that are pushing the boundaries of design.

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