MOMA Acquires @ Symbol

The Museum of Modern Art has added the typographical symbol @ to their design collection. MoMa’s chief design curator, Paola Antonelli, explains that “the @ is more ancient than you might think–Some scholars think it was invented over 1,300 years ago, as a way to reduce the Latin word “ad”–which means “at”, “to”, or “toward”–into a single penstroke.” (read full text here) In the 20th century it was considered an “oddity of typography” on most keyboards – utterly useless.

However, the @ has been revolutionized. We could not function every day life without the @ – all because of Twitter and email.

Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer who helped create the world’s first email system and is “the man who created email” according to NPR. He thought to use the @ symbol as a way to permit cross-server email routing. Tomlinson changed the rules of how the @ symbol was portrayed. Antonelli continues saying that Tomlinson “performed a powerful act of design that not only forever changed the @ sign’s significance and function, but which also has become an important part of our identity in relationship and communication with others.”

I find it interesting that something we consider an ubiquitous symbol finds placement in an renowned art museum. It reminds me of Found Art, making art out of everyday, familiar objects.

via Fast Company

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