I Know What I Like was commissioned by Art Game Lab, an SFMOMA education project that brings games into the galleries of the museum. Erica Gangsei, project coordinator, wanted to use the appeal and fun of games to create a different user experience for SFMOMA than the traditional gallery tour.
The game is simple: it asks players to select a character, don its respective mask, and experience the museum through the character’s personality. If keen, the player may take on one of three different tasks to try to complete during their tour. The goal of I Know What I Like is both to narrow the art viewer’s parameters when visiting a museum, and to emphasize the subjectivity of art. Most people do not use a museum correctly; they try to see or comprehend too much, or approach it as a mechanical information-harvesting exercise. They easily get frustrated with art, especially contemporary art, and generally do not go back for more once they’ve reached this point of incomprehension or disinterest. They will then state, and think to themselves, that they do not like “art”. This is absurd, however, as absurd as saying “I don’t like music”. Aside from Werner Herzog it is safe to say that everybody likes some kind of music. But if you had someone go into a record store and start randomly picking up cd’s and listening to them, they would probably listen to a lot of music they would not like. That is the method in which people visit museums. In this game, you are only looking for a particular type of art, art that for some odd reason your character enjoys. And its clear from their card that they enjoy this art for some simple or mundane purpose: because it makes them tired, or it reminds them of food. For the uninitiated, this seems unacceptable, art is elite, intellectual, and requires a discerning sensibility and years of study to understand and enjoy. But the opposite is true: art is about fulfilling fundamental and primal desires. That’s why most people are moved by art, because it hits them instinctively. They like the color red. They like the idea of equality. They like tits. Most people deny this instinct however. So, by putting on a mask and being someone else, players can re engage with the fundamentals of art viewing, and hopefully come to find what they alone enjoy about art.
Links: ART GAME LAB at SFMOMA