Dec 9 2011: What’s That? The Popular Photo Quiz Party Game! (Pepys,1960s)

Although nothing more than a cheap novelty party guessing game, probably of 1960s vintage, the twelve cards that make up What’s That? closely resemble avant-garde photographs of the 1920s and 30s. With their emphasis on tightly-cropped details and odd angles on everyday objects, they may have been made solely to prompt a bit of head-scratching before the penny drops, but often generate decidedly other effects, too. The uterine feel of Number 3’s swirling tunnel, the organic textures of Number 5’s abstract relief and the luminous receding diagonals of Number 9 all have equivalents in the work of photographers like Rodchenko, Brassai and Man Ray. Perhaps it’s a similar phenomenon to that noted of Professor Stanley Unwin in an earlier post, where methods usually rejected as difficult and inaccessible are slightly recontextualized and become entirely acceptable to wide general audiences under the banner of mere entertainment. And in case anyone was stuck with the solutions to any of these What’s That? cards, the answers are as follows:

1: An electric fire. 2: A vacuum flask. 3: A vacuum cleaner’s hose. 4: The head of a mop. 5: A football boot’s studs. 6: A basket. 7: A drain cover. 8: A pastry-cutter. 9: Corrugated cardboard. 10: A wire pan scrubber. 11: A typewriter keyboard. 12: A fork.

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