During a recent exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, two California teenagers pulled a prank that drew attention to the question of what is really art. After viewing the majority of the exhibits, most of which were extremely simplistic, including two stuffed animals on a blanket, the teens were perplexed at the simplicity of the works, and they wondered if they too could create art with a mere object.
To test this theory, the teens – Kevin Nguyen, 16, and TJ Khayatan, 17 – placed a pair of eyeglasses on the floor beneath a placard that describes the theme of the gallery. Though they had experimented with placing both a jacket and a baseball cap on the floor, neither drew any attention. However, once the glasses were placed on the floor, they stood back and observed while, within minutes, visitors began to crowd around and even snap pictures of the fake installation.
Kevin claims that neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses, yet visitors quickly crowded around and inspected the object.
After TJ posted photos on Twitter of the event, a lively debate ensued about what should be defined and counted as art. Several news sites, such as The Huffington Post and NBC Bay Area, covered the episode and propelled the discussion.
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