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Electronic devices of all kinds are part of everyday life today. They remind us that we spend a large part of our lives in digital worlds. To enter them, we need the appropriate connections. From Zoom to FaceTime, WhatsApp to Discord, Roblox to Fortnite, the interfaces we use to access them are, as the announcement says, “visual and haptic manifestations of a code that both connects and disconnects us and shapes the way we behave and perceive others”. Since interfaces, like other ubiquitous tools, are rarely recognised as design, the exhibition “Never Alone. Video Games and other Interactive Design” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from 10 September until summer next year brings together examples of interaction design. The exhibition will present an area of design that deals with the points of contact between objects and people, be they machines, programmes or infrastructures.

Curated by Paola Antonelli and Anna Burckhardt and drawing on works from MoMA’s collection, the exhibition ranges from the iconic and universal @ sign, a symbol that dates back to the Middle Ages, to an ad hoc device that allows graffiti artists with ALS to work on city walls from bed. Games range from “Tetris” and “Pac-Man” to immersive explorations of nature like “Flower” or records of indigenous traditions and cultures like “Never Alone” to forays into the absurd like “Everything Is Going to Be OK”. These works, the museum says, remind us that while the digital world has different and often untested rules of the game, interaction design can change our behaviour – from the way we experience and move our bodies to the way we think about space, time and relationships.

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