Rubik's Cube in popular culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Rubik's Cube, a 1974 invention of Ernő Rubik of Hungary, fascinated people around the globe and became one of the most popular games in America in the early 1980s, having been initially released as the Magic Cube in Hungary in late 1977, and then re-manufactured and released in the western world as Rubik's Cube in 1980.[1] As of January 2009 350 million cubes have sold worldwide[2][3] making it the world's top-selling puzzle game.[4] It earned a place as a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1982.[5] The Cube retains a dedicated following, with almost 40,000 entries on YouTube featuring tutorials and video clips of quick solutions.[3]

Film and television[edit]

The ability to solve a Rubik's Cube quickly is often used as a way of establishing a character's high intelligence,[citation needed] or superiority over another. In the 2009 adventure film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the lead character uses the "Cube of Rubik" as a ruse to deceive and slow the villain's progress. In The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Will Smith's character solves a Rubik's cube in under two minutes, impressing his companion and ultimately leading to world of opportunities. In the film Dude, Where's My Car?, one of the characters of the film solves a cube and it turns into the space time continuum. In the 2008 film WALL-E, the title character hands EVE a Rubik's Cube, who solves it (silently and offscreen) in 5 seconds.

Rubik, the Amazing Cube was a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon television series where the main character was a sentient Rubik's Cube. In the third season of Law & Order, Detectives Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Logan (Chris Noth) arrest a man who is playing with a Rubik's Cube on a bench. A Rubik's Cube is a central motif for the penultimate episode of series one of Ashes to Ashes (set in the autumn of 1981 in London.) In the South Park episode "The Ring", a 4x4x4 cube can be seen on the cover of a magazine and in "The Coon" (South Park) a Rubik's 3x3x3 cube is seen. In "Cube Wars", an episode from the television series Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?, the students play with a changeable 4x4x4 cube called the Wonder Cube which is similar to the Rubik's Revenge.[6] The Big Bang Theory features a tissue box that looks like a Rubik's Cube.[7]

Rubik's Cubes were a feature of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, with the postcard introducing the Hungarian entry showing András Kállay-Saunders completing a Rubik's Cube and subsequently creating the Hungarian flag out of several cubes, honouring Ernő Rubik's Hungarian origins.

In the 2014 computer-animated film Mr. Peabody & Sherman Albert Einstein appears with a Rubik's Cube and he can't solve it.

Early drafts of the script for the cult movie The Big Lebowski stated that the main character, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, had inherited an undisclosed amount of money from being an heir to the Rubik's Cube fortune, despite the fact Ernő Rubik was very much alive at that time[citation needed].

Comics and manga[edit]

While the God's Number of a Rubik's Cube has been determined to be 20 by computer algorithms,[8] in DC Comics Final Crisis crossover series, it is shown that a real god can solve it in less (with the actual number being 17). The time-traveling New God Metron is depicted with a cube; and the solving of a cube utilizing a God's Number maneuver of 17 results in a flash of blinding supernatural luminosity which destroys evil minions of Darkseid in the vicinity.

In the manga and anime of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun Yoshida Haru is shown solving a Rubik's Cube in episode 6.

In Psycho Pass (anime) the President coordinator has a small hologram of a 3x3 cube shuffling around on her desk. The scene ends at the same time as the cube is solved.

Museum exhibition[edit]

Liberty Science Center and Google are currently designing an interactive exhibit based on the Rubik's Cube.[9] It will open at LSC in Jersey City, NJ, in April 2014 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Cube's invention before traveling internationally for 7 years.[10] Exhibition elements include a 35-foot-tall rooftop cube made of lights that people can manipulate with their cellphones, a $2.5 million cube made of diamonds, a giant walk-in cube displaying the inner workings of the puzzle, and cube-solving robots.[11]

Music video[edit]

The famous cube appears in the Spice Girls' "Viva Forever" music video. The cube also appears in Maroon 5's "Payphone" music video. It is shown on the desk of the banker in the official video. The cube also appears in "If You" music video by the italo dance artist Magic Box.

A cube is briefly shown being rough-handled (comically, with a screwdriver) by a puppet caricature of Mr. Spock from Star Trek in the Genesis video "Land of Confusion."


In 1981, the British humorous pop group, The Barron Knights released a song called Mr. Rubik which appeared on their album entitled Twisting The Knights Away. The album's cover also depicts a Rubik's Cube which contains the photos of the band members on each smaller cube.[12] The song is about a person who is going crazy after playing a Rubik's Cube.

In 1981, Australian musician Mike Brady released a song called The Cube. In the music video, Brady depicts a mad scientist who discovered the Rubik's cube.

A promotional Rubik's Cube featuring the four Julian Opie portraits of the band members of Blur was released in 2000 in promotion for the Blur: The Best of album (which also features the portraits on the cover)


Large Rubik's Cube built on the University of Michigan's North Campus

Probably from the earliest days of the Rubik's Cube craze in the 1980s people have assembled cubes to form simple art pieces, and several early 'Folk Artists' are noted for their work.[13][14] Rubik’s Cubes have also been the subject of several pop art installations. Owing to their popularity as a children’s toy several artists and groups have created large Rubik’s Cubes.

Tony Rosenthal's Alamo ("The Astor Cube") is a spinnable statue of a Cube standing in New York City. Once the cube was covered with colored panels so that it resembled a Rubik's Cube.[15][16] Similarly, the University of Michigan students covered Endover creating a large Rubik’s Cube on the University of Michigan’s central campus for April fool’s day in 2008. In conjunction with the 2008 April fool’s day cube covering, the engineering secret society Vulcan installed a large rotating non-functional Rubik’s Cube for the University of Michigan's North Campus. Built out of 600+ lbs. of steel, the cube was an entertaining addition to North Campus. Removed later the same semester, the cube reappeared in the fall of 2008 on the first day of classes. It was later removed, but in response to the cube, the university is planning on a permanent Rubik's Cube art installation on North Campus. Oversized Cube installations with staircases in them are found outside the 1980s-themed buildings of Disney's Pop Century Resort.[17]

The largest Rubik's Cube sculpture to date,[citation needed] called Groovik's Cube,[18] is 30 ft tall and was built by a team of artists in Seattle in 2009 for Burning Man. The piece is powered by LED lights and is fully interactive and playable, using electronic control stations.

Rubik's Cubism[edit]

Beyond the Folk Art of the 1980s and 1990s, and the simple replication of a Rubik's Cube in oversized form, artists have developed a pointillist art style using the cubes. Rubik's Cube Art a.k.a. Rubik's Cubism or RubikCubism[19] makes use of a standard Rubik’s Cube, a popular puzzle toy of the 1980s. The earliest simple forms of the art probably occurred with independent “cubers” even in the first years after the cube became popular.[citation needed]

The earliest recorded artworks appear to have been created by Fred Holly, a legally blind man in his 60s in the mid-1980s.[13] These early pieces focus on geometrics and color patterns. There does not appear to be other recorded art pieces until the mid-1990s by cube aficionados involved in the puzzle and game industry.[14]

The Folk art form reached another level of its evolution with the development and maturity into a Pop art form consisting of pointillist Cube Art renderings. The street artist who uses the alias "Invader" or "Space Invader" started exhibiting pointillist pieces, including one of a man behind a desk and Mario Bros, using Rubik's Cube in June 2005 in an exhibition named 'Rubik Cubism' at Sixspace in Los Angeles.[20] Prior to this exhibition the artist had used Rubik's Cubes to create giant Space Invaders.[21] Another artist includes Robbie Mackinnon of Toronto Canada[22] with earliest published work in 2007 [23] who claims to have developed his pointillist Cube Art years earlier while being a teacher in China. Robbie Mackinnon's work has been exhibited in Ripley's Believe it or Not and focused on using pop-art, while Space Invader has exhibited his Cube Art alongside mosaic Space Invaders in commercial and public galleries.[24]

Pete Fecteau's "Dream Big" piece in the making.

In 2010 artist Pete Fecteau created "Dream Big",[25] a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. using 4,242 officially licensed Rubik's Cubes. Fecteau also worked with the organization You Can Do The Rubik's Cube[26] to create two separate guides designed to teach school children how to create Rubik's Cube mosaics from templates which he also created.

Famous people[edit]

Outside of competitors, famous persons that know how to solve a rubik's cube include:


  1. ^ Rubik's World History
  2. ^ William Lee Adams (2009-01-28). "The Rubik's Cube: A Puzzling Success". TIME. Archived from the original on 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  3. ^ a b Alastair Jamieson (2009-01-31). "Rubik's Cube inventor is back with Rubik's 360". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  4. ^ "eGames, Mindscape Put International Twist On Rubik's Cube PC Game". Reuters. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  5. ^ Rubik's World Index
  6. ^ "Cube Wars". Big Cartoon Database. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "God's Number is 20". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Shaffrey, Ted (2012-04-27). "Cubism? Rubik helps with toy's anniversary exhibit". Associated Press (New York). 
  11. ^ Quenqua, Douglas (2012-08-06). "Rubik's Cube Twists Back Into Limelight". The New York Times (New York). 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b The Rubik's Cube Designs of Fred Holly
  14. ^ a b Rubik's Cube Art
  15. ^ Moynihan, Colin (2005-11-19). "The Cube, Restored, Is Back and Turning at Astor Place". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  16. ^ "All Too Flat : Pranks : Cube". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  17. ^ Disney's Pop Century Resort: Walt Disney World Resort
  18. ^ Groovik's Cube
  19. ^ Rubikcubism
  21. ^ Rubik Space By Invader
  22. ^ CubeWorks
  23. ^ Rubik’s Cube Art at Two Guys from Toronto
  24. ^ Exhibitions
  25. ^
  26. ^ You Can Do The Cube Official Site
  27. ^ Will Smith solves the cube on Canal+, a French TV channel
  28. ^ Justin Bieber solves the cube on Cuatro, a Spanish TV channel
  29. ^ Ringside April 2014
  30. ^ Logic solves Rubik's cube in about 65 seconds while rehearsing for his World Tour
  31. ^ Bo Burnham Rubiks CUbe Rap

External links[edit]