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Adobe Opens Digital 'Museum' Amid Flash Bashing

  |  September 28, 2010   |  Comments

Slick online venue was built in collaboration with Goodby and Unit9 co-founder Piero Frescobaldi.

adobe-digital-museumThe maker of Photoshop, InDesign and Flash is set to open an online "museum" that will showcase the best of digital art and draw attention to what can be done with its products - most notably the much-derided Flash.

The Adobe Museum of Digital Media, from San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems, will go live on October 6. The company describes it as "an interactive venue to present and preserve groundbreaking digital media works, inspire creative ideas and experimentation, and provide a forum for expert commentary on how digital media influences culture and society."

Adobe has a history of using public "events" online to show what its products can achieve. Since 2008, the company has sponsored an annual game called Layer Tennis in which designers "lob" creations back and forth across the globe, each team adding elements before passing it on. The game has attracted upwards of 500,000 viewers per match.

But the slick museum - created with Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and Unit9 co-founder Piero Frescobaldi - can also be seen as a counterattack for Flash, a programming tool increasingly under fire from Steve Jobs and Apple. Jobs has famously blocked Flash from working with the iPad, iPhone and iPod devices, citing security and stability risks.

"Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content," Jobs wrote in an April statement on Apple.com. "And the 200,000 apps on Apple's App Store proves that Flash isn't necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications."(Earlier this month Apple partly reversed the move, allowing developers to use Flash in building applications for its iOS mobile operating system, as long as they don't download code.)

In announcing the museum, Adobe chose not to acknowledge the Apple snubs. “Adobe works with a wide range of creative professionals every day" and sees "extraordinary digital projects that take advantage of current technology and point to where creative minds will take digital media in the future,” said Ann Lewnes, SVP of global marketing, in a written statement. “The museum was inspired by them and is a tribute to their talent and innovation."

The museum's inaugural exhibition will be "Valley," a work from American artist Tony Oursler that "explores our relationship to the Internet, underscored by Oursler’s often raucous, disarming humor," read the release.

A spokeswoman for Adobe said the company will drive traffic to the site through social media and online advertising. She also noted that all works to be exhibited will be made using the same Adobe software that is available to the public. Artists may also use any non-Adobe software they wish when creating their exhibits.

Clarification: The story previously implied exhibitions must be created using Adobe software. That is not the case, as has been noted above.

Follow Douglas Quenqua on Twitter at @DQuenqua.


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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.

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