The Rubik’s Cube in Popular Culture
Despite several decades passing since the invention of the famous puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube still remains a staple of 80s culture and is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about things from the 80s. The immense popularity of the puzzle has resulted in several appearances throughout the media and the arts, either as a background object or as a key element. Here we will take a look at some of the cube’s “appearances” in several different art forms and media.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube invention (19th May 2014), Google produced an interactive “doodle” for its users with a virtual Rubik’s Cube that could be solved. Upon completion, the user would be presented with a certificate which stated their name and the time to complete the solve. The cube was only on the front page for one day, however the doodle is still accessible if you didn’t get the chance to try it on the day: google.com/doodles/rubiks-cube
Art Pieces and Rubik’s Cubism
The Rubik’s Cube has been symbolic and inspirational in many different art pieces, so much so that an entire art movement has been formed by the puzzle: Rubik’s Cubism (or Rubikubism).
There are many different types of art involving Rubik’s Cubes. Giant cubes have been created such as a Rubik’s Cube that appeared on the University of Michigan campus as an April Fool’s Day joke that disappeared and reappeared randomly, and a Rubik’s Cube frame that featured at the Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibition, first seen at the Liberty Science Centre in 2014. An existing sculpture, the Astor Cube of New York City (Alamo) was covered with coloured panels to resemble a Rubik’s Cube. More examples of Rubik’s Cube art include the Masterpiece Cube, a $2.5 million cube created to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube.
Rubicubism is a type of art that originated from the original puzzle. Rubik’s Cubes are used to create mosaics of varying sizes. The more cubes used, the higher quality the overall image, despite only using the 6 colours of a standard puzzle. To see some of these mosaics yourself, check out the gallery
The Rubik’s Cube in Film and Television
Rubik’s Cubes are used in numerous different ways in film and television series. It could be a device used to help the viewer relate to the character (due to the popularity of the puzzle, it is a fairly reasonable assumption that the majority of the viewer base of an adult film would have grown up with the Rubik’s Cube, regardless of the level of influence it had). It could also just be a simple background prop for a scene. However, the majority of uses of the Rubik’s Cube within film are to portray the intelligence of a character in a way that everyone can understand. Due to the difficulty of the puzzle for those with no knowledge of the solution, the cube is widely accepted as something that only incredibly intelligent individuals are able to solve. Therefore, the use of the Rubik’s Cube within media such as the popular “The Pursuit of Happyness” is more of a theatrical device than simply a vague reference to a memorable object.