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(From left) Cory Arcangel(Beige) and PAPER RAD, Super Mario Movie, 2005. Installation view at Deitch Projects, New York, 2005. Handmade hacked Super Mario Brothers Nintendo cartridge and installation. Courtesy of Deitch Projects, New York; Super Slow Tetris, 2004. Handmade hacked Nintendo cartridge, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York. Opposite page: Japanese Driving Game, 2004. Handmade hacked Nintendo FamiCom cartridge, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.


I program only because it is the mechanism that seems to make most of the world move. Believe me if I could order pizzas by painting…, I definitely would paint—

Cory Arcangel

 

Cory Arcangel’s work operates at the interstices of media art. The reason being is that his practice is infused with, among other things, a formal and poetic anachronism that is conceptually oriented. This is evinced in works such as Sans Simon, which is a video of Simon and Garfunkel where the former is hidden, something along the lines of El condor pasa that is forever banished into a virtual abyss. Or, how about doogle.com: a project that feigns the search engine behemoth yet when one accesses it, the only information yielded is the banal television personality Doogie Howser, M.D. Then there is software as artwork eloquently called T.A.C. (Total Asshole Compression); this endeavor enlarges any file that passes through it as if it has been infused with digital steroids. These works, of which there are many other examples, underscore how Arcangel idiosyncratically rubs up against technology in contentious ways. Arcangel’s antithesis to techno-formalism exemplified in his lowbrow digital antics embody well Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism that media in a world of spectacle and simulacrum, is the message as well the massage. Whereas an artist like Bill Viola, for example, attempts to concretize an epiphany akin to a religious experience via his Cecil B. DeMille-like digital video environments, Arcangel’s aesthetic can sometimes feel like a dose of pixilated Prozac that can numb the social pain into oblivion, or at least morph it into a palpitating beautiful, brave new world?     

Cory Arcangel_garageband screen_2009 Jan 12

Cory Arcangel_The Possibility of an Island

The late, great art historian George Kubler once said that timing is everything; and how coincidental is it, then, that Cory Arcangel emerged at the turn of the previous century as one millennium passed to the other, as the analogical into its digital other? As a founding member of Beige Programming Ensemble that includes Paul B. Davis, Joe Beuckman, and Joe Bonn, Arcangel explored computer programming as a bona fide art form but had taken it to an altogether different register. To be sure, there were forays into programming as early as 1995 underscored in the Internet -based projects that had been initiated by the then New York-based Dia Art Foundation. Outside of that important catalyst, however, were a few works whose novelty as media art within the larger contour of media practice would today be deemed as video installation. If anything these works at least aided in the ontological defining of the media art field. The art featured in Michael Rush’s New Media in Art concurrent with the Dia Art Foundation projects, for instance, included seminal works by Matthew Barney, Rodney Graham, and Douglas Gordon. Even the first Seoul Media Biennial launched in 2000 and artistically directed by the trailblazer Barbara London with curatorial input by Hans Ulrich Obrist, seem to be saturated with video as sculpture, as installation, on monitors, projected, and single and multi-channel.

Cory Arcangel_Self playing sony playstation_1 bowling


Cory Arcangel_Welcome 2 my Artshow!

However, the same year of the launching of Media_City Seoul saw Arcangel’s emergence with Beige Programming Ensemble; but his practice carved a particular trajectory that no one was exploring: the hacking of archaic video gaming systems, the formal and conceptual re-contextualization of old Apple computers with attendant monitors, as well as Internet-based art. Arcangel also worked  in video, albeit that his use of the medium often moved as far as possible to what was ubiquitously thought of as video at that time. His Cloud (2002), which was an early video projection, consisted of clouds hacked from Super Mario Brothers® game cartridge that was endlessly looped like some visually hypnotic, wallpaper emptied of content. It is this kind of iconoclastic flair that has positioned Arcangel as one of the most intelligent artists working in the field of media art today.

By  Raul Zamudio

 

Raul Zamudio is a curator and critic who was co-curator of 2008 Seoul Media Biennial; he is also New York correspondent for EYEBALL.

 

 

 

Cory Arcangel:

http://www.beigerecords.com/cory/

 

Beige Programming Ensemble:

http://www.post-data.org/beige/

 

Team Gallery:

http://www.teamgal.com/

 

Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/coryarcangel

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Posted by EYEBALL_Media Arts Webzine


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