• Today more people visit museums than visit football matches. In the UK seven out of ten of the top visitor attractions are museums.

    In a competitive environment proliferating museums depend for their survival on their ability to attract large numbers of people.

    The income generated by visitors to museums has become a major source of revenue funding. Museums have become leisure brands and their (abbreviated) names are key to their public image strategy.

    MOMA: Museum of Modern Art, New York; ICA: Institute of Contemporary Art, London; SMAK: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; LACMA: Los Angeles Country Museum of Art; MADRE: Museo d’Arte Contemporaneo Donna Regina, Naples.

    A Muse Um is a computer animation that combines the abbreviations commonly identifying art museums around the world with photographs taken of art museums by the artists.

  • The acronyms are presented individually in coloured modules collated in 16 groups of 8. These are combined with the photos to make up interspersed multi-coloured grids of 64 modules each. As the animation progresses the modules of codes and photos are superimposed on each other in increasing and decreasing scale. Museum buildings and coded identities appear and disappear, dissolving into each other in an endless cycle of familiarity and obscurity, constantly supplanting each other.

    As life becomes more complex and systems multiply we have an increasing need of abbreviated means to identify elements and events. In time these abbreviations become lexical and linguistic entities in their own right generating new language and new cultural tendencies.

    At once strikingly familiar yet thoroughly depersonalised, codes generally are ‘links’ and connecting points in the networks enabling or constraining our actions and communications throughout daily life. Codes are evidence of the pervasive, quasi metaphysical, global architecture of order and administration, commerce and power which surround us.

    Langlands & Bell, 2007

    Digital artwork Richard Wilding


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