Volume 18, Number 1 .... January 1996

CD-ROM Review

by Edmund X. DeJesus

Virtual Museum of Bad Art

Backyard Computing, 73 Parker Road, Needham, MA 02194, 617/444-6757, Isacco@world,std,com, $19.95.

You've probably never set foot inside the Museum of Bad Art, possibly because it doesn't exist. But that little technicality certainly won't stop you from enjoying the Virtual Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), the funniest CD-ROM satire I've ever seen. Using a mouse, you can wander from room to room, eavesdrop on staff and visitors, and view the artwork itself (which is not a particularly recommended option).

There's a guy bemoaning having been stood up on a blind date at the museum and gradualy becoming aware of the painting that's in front of him ("This is really bad."), A connoisseur extolling the virtues of the frames ("A good frame, and you're halfway there."), and Some pseudointellectuals discussing the remarkable variety of styles by Unknown (the artist who has the most pictures hung at MOBA). There's even a gift shop, where clicking on an item produces an order form to fill out.

Is the merchandise real? Is any of it real? How do you create a tour of someplace that doesen't exist? The art is definitely real--plucked from various trash heaps over the years by curator Scott Wilson and director Jerry Reilly and usually on display in Reilly's basement--and hung temporarily in various Boston locations to be photographed along with visitors and staff played by the "Friends of MOBA".

I had to fiddle around a good bit to set up and run the CD-ROM, and the graphics were sometimes posterized--all of which seemed to blend with the charm of MOBA itself. Do you expect perfection at MOBA? This is the perfect gift for that artsy--or antiartsy--friend. Real or imaginary or somewhere in between, MOBA is a hoot.

by Edmund X. DeJesus

(Reprinted with permission from the December 1995 issue of BYTE magazine. Copyright by McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.)

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