All Articles
All Articles

MoMA Unadulterated

Kids say the darndest things about MoMA's permanent collection

by James Thorne
on 14 August 2012

Looking to shake up the context of art as we know it, independent group Audio Tour Hack recruited a posse of kids to provide their own special commentary for their latest venture, "MoMA Unadulterated." The project attempts to change perspectives on the NYC museum's permanent collection by enlivening the experience with the children's youthful analysis in an online tour. "MoMA Unadulterated" is a follow-up to Audio Tour Hack's previous undertaking "Artobots," which re-contextualized John Chamberlain's show at the Guggenheim as an exhibition on Transformers. This time around, the group takes 30 pieces from the MoMA's fourth floor, hacking the adult perspective with audio of children offering their precious and often profound take on the likes of Pollock, Lichtenstein and Warhol.

The opening day for "MoMA Unadulterated" this past Saturday looked like some sort of subdued flash mob. A flock of attendees dispersed among the permanent collection, mingling with regular visitors for a completely different experience. Pretension and institution, at least for certain guests, had to give way to the voice and imagination of children aged 3-10.

We caught up with Mark Svartz and Hal Kirkland of Audio Tour Hack at the opening to find out more about their mission.

How does "MoMA Unadulterated" compare to your first tour, "Artobots"?

Kirkland: Artobots was a truly experimental change of context. We created an entirely different exhibition in the middle of the Guggenheim. It was a good, epic start.

Svartz: People who were on the Artobots tour said afterwards, "If you didn't tell me that you guys created this, it would have made so much sense for this to be a 'Transformers' exhibit." By changing this entire perspective, it wasn't a gag, it wasn't a joke, it was actually changing the way people saw this art. The one at the Guggenheim was only a three-week show, so some people just couldn't make it. This one is around forever, hopefully, so people can just come at their leisure.

Looking around, who here is listening to Audio Tour Hack?

S: You can kind of tell who is actually on the Audio Tour Hack tour and who is on the MoMA's tour. The ones who are giggling instead of looking intelligent.

K: Instead of crying.

Tell us about the process of interviewing the kids.

S: We gathered 16 kids, sat them down and just chatted. It was amazing how much they gravitated towards it. They were grabbing the iPad, they were zooming in and everything—it was just a flowing fountain of awesome. We're all at that age—late-twenties to mid-thirties—where we have friends with kids now. We just put out the feelers and everyone was really willing to help.

K: One of the kids, when his father was taking him through, had this thing where he kept saying, "Museums are not for touching!" There's a set of rules that kids have to follow, a certain way that they have to behave. It's a funny behavioral shift when you ask kids to say what they actually have to say.

How did the kids respond?

S: Kids don't always get to express what they actually feel. Most audio guides tell you what you're supposed think. Like, "This is how it was made and when it was made and why it was made." This is the first time where kids are asked, "What do you think this is saying?"

K: I think the Pollock one was probably one of the most interesting responses because the kids were saying exactly what everyone is thinking a little bit. They were very much like, "Oh, that's a splatter paint." And they were evaluating how much it would be worth. So they were saying, "Who would pay $100 for some blotches of paint?" Others were like, "I would. I would."

Watch the hilarious trailer or browse the Audio Tour Hack site to find out more about "MoMA Unadulterated." If you're heading to the MoMA, download the walking tour map as well as the playlist or stream the tour straight from your device on location.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft
Loading More...