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Chair standing in a gallery space with white walls, viewed through a hole in in a stone sculpture. The chair has a rounded seat and backrest made out of wood and bamboo woven in a basket technique. The armature and legs are made out of elegantly bent iron rods.

What’s the Difference Between Art and Design?

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What exactly is the difference between art and design?

The M+ Collections are separated into three categories: visual art, design and architecture, and moving image. These categorisations can be useful; however, often, the boundaries between them are blurred. How, then, can we define whether something is an ‘artwork’ or a ‘design object’?

First of all, let’s quickly go over some of the traditional differences between art and design:

  • Design is functional, art is not.
  • Design solves a problem, art expresses a feeling or idea.
  • Design objects are mass-produced, artworks are unique.
  • Design is objective, art is subjective.

Think of some of the artworks or design objects you’re familiar with. You’ll probably find that you can slot many of them neatly into these two categories—but you might also find examples that poke holes in this art/design boundary.

A small rectangular cardboard box sits upright against a blank background. A flab on the top says ‘Tamagotchi’, and a flap on the front has been opened to reveal a small round opening covered by plastic containing a round, red Tamagotchi device. A small screen on the front of the device shows a small bird-like pet. On the cardboard surrounding the device is a photograph of a bridge at night time surrounded by fireworks, and an array of small cartoon creatures dancing and smiling along the bottom.

From the Collections: Tamagotchi (1997 Hong Kong Collector’s Edition)

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This portable Tamagotchi game (1997 Hong Kong Collector’s Edition) from Bandai Co. is in the M+ Collections, but what is it, who made it, and why did M+ acquire it? William Seung, Curatorial Assistant, Design & Architecture, M+, explains:

What is this?

This is an early generation of a Tamagotchi, a portable pet-raising simulation game. The name is a combination of the Japanese words tamago (‘egg’) and wocchi (‘watch’)—referring to both the gameplay (raising a pet from an egg and keeping watch over it) and its egg-like case and keychain that lets you walk around with it. The goal of the game is to take care of a Tamagotchi, a mysterious alien-like creature, so that it can grow up from a toddler to an adult. Players have to keep it in a good mood, teach it to be well-behaved, and feed it when it’s hungry.

Two photographs side by side. The photograph on the left is of a man viewed from the torso up. He is looking to the side, has his mouth open and is gesturing with his hand as if in the middle of speaking. The photograph of the right is of a man sitting in front of a window with his hands folded in his lap, looking off to the side.

Ask an M+ Curator: Curating ‘Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint’

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Time to ask a curator! Throughout the exhibition Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint, curious visitors can go ask exhibition curators Doryun Chong (Deputy Director & Chief Curator at M+) and Dakin Hart (Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum) anything about the exhibition and the works on display. Answers are then posted right here on M+ Stories.

Below are the answers from the first round of questions—the second round of answers will be published after the exhibition’s end. Thank you to everyone who has submitted questions.

‘How do you think the colourful plinths arranged by Danh Vo underneath Noguchi’s works will affect viewers’ perception? What is the reason behind making this curatorial choice?’

Installation artwork displayed in a white gallery space in which ten fiberglass figures hang from the ceiling. They have insect-like wings and human-like puppet faces with Javanese-style headdresses, and two legs but no arms. In the center of each of their chests is a small window revealing the inner mechanical workings that power the wing movements.

Learn about Asia’s Lesser Known Exhibition Histories through Wikipedia

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Exhibitions are important pieces of the history of visual culture in their own right. Even some of the most famous exhibitions in and about Asia either have very short articles on Wikipedia, or none at all.

This is a discrepancy that M+, together with Asia Art Archive, aimed to address in the recent Wikipedia Asian Month: Edit-a-thon on Exhibition Histories, as part of both institutions’ ongoing effort to contribute to the representation of art and visual culture in Asia on Wikipedia. The event invited participants to sit down to create and improve Wikipedia articles about exhibition histories in and about Asia.

The participants added and improved thirteen Wikipedia articles about exhibitions that previously had either no article at all, or a very short one. Research materials, including original exhibition catalogues, were provided from the Asia Art Archive library to help bring this information online. In this blog post, we want to highlight some of that previously undocumented history.