Cory Arcangel is a contemporary American post-conceptual multimedia artist who works in a range of mediums such as music, drawing, painting, video, performance art, software and video game modifications, for which he’s best known. Arcangel often relies on appropriation of pop cultural constructions, specifically those found online. His art inspects the relationship between technology and pop culture. Cory grabs snippets floating in digital culture’s collective unconscious and modifies it to the needs of new media.
His work is a kind of immersion into the world of play, sometimes cordial and evocative – hacking in to the iconic video games of his youth to disrobe them back to the barest, most vital landscapes of almost zen-like minimalism. Arcangel operates obsolete, analog technologies and online memes with equal enthusiasm by using techniques of hacking, manipulating, reverberating and reconfiguring. He turns the junction of technology and culture into materials for making art.
Born in 1978 in Buffalo, NY, Arcangel was fond of music in his youth, studying classical guitar at Oberlin Conservatory. Later he’s taken an interest in technology, particularly the technology used in music production. “I was a computer nerd growing up and always felt very comfortable in front of a computer and it’s still true today,” Cory has explained. “Although my works can end up on walls, and physical, like sculptures, it often comes from me sitting where I like to be—at my computer.”
He was practicing guitar for hours, when he was studying in conservatory, it was like some kind of meditation, and that is also what he has continued to do as a conceptual artist.
“I’m interested in all ways that people use technology to express themselves and my work is many times a mirror to culture at large.”
The ageing process of media and technologies was always a focus point in Arcangel’s practice. In the early years of his art track he became known for applying archaeological method to historical computer technology of the 80s, whereas in recent years he has got carried away into art materials and digital sources mostly.
He liked and played Legos a lot when he was a kid. One of his interviews he’s mentioned that he never had a Nintendo as a child and had just watched how one of his friends had been playing it. Perhaps it was some kind of “game voyeurism”, which thereafter has grown and propagated to his main view as an artist.
Arcangel disassembles the integral pieces of art into detached units . An essential portion of his work is born digital; it doesn’t exist outside of a computer. Cory works all over the spectrum. His art is unhasty, introspective and echoic. And fun, of course: Arcangel hasn’t denied that humor is the main thing in his practice.
“I’m sometimes the last to even know or understand the relationships between the things”.
Perhaps Arcangel’s most celebrated work is his modified Nintendo series: Super Mario Clouds (2002), in which he hacked the classic video game to remove everything but its sunny framework with blue sky and clouds and Super Mario Movie (2005) – “A Mario comic on a cartridge”, another modified NES Super Mario Bros. cartridge, programmed to be a 15-minute video consisting of original texts and “dialogue” boxes.
“All new media is old media.”
Arcangel’s another well known Photoshop CS series are gradient digital paintings created entirely in the Adobe PhotoShop graphics editor from its general templates. In Drei Klavierstücke op.11 (2009), Arcangel recreated Arnold Schönberg’s 1909 musical piece by editing together YouTube clips of cats playing pianos. For the work ‘Structural Film’ (2007) Arcangel used the medium of film, and applied to a blank image the iMovie filter that emulates dust and scratches from a time-worn film, called ‘Aged Film’, was. Cory Cory then transferred the quicktime film to 16 mm, so that the work becomes a contemporary stylization of Nam June Paik’s ‘Zen for Film’.
“I’m constantly stressed about things disappearing. What I’m doing now is just like playing preservation, preserving things in culture which have disappeared.”
Cory is the youngest artist since Bruce Nauman who has been given a full floor solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2011). In 2015 he received the Kino der Kunst Award. Arcangel has had major exhibitions at Barbican Art Gallery (UK/2011), Carnegie Museum of Art (USA/2013), Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (Copenhagen/2014), Espace Louis VuittonMünchen Espace Louis Vuitton München(Germany/2015), Art Projects Ibiza (Spain/2017). Cory also was shortlisted for the Nam June Paik Award in 2014.
Arcangel now lives and works in Stavanger, Norway. He also runs an art studio in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
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