Archive for the ‘coryarcangel’ Category

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Phasing Dancing Stand Sculptures by Cory Arcangel consists of a pair of “Dancing Stands.”

Dancing Stands are metallic commercial display-units whose  shelves remain flat and parallel despite the steady flexing in-and-out of its hinges (it looks like the machines are swaying back-and-forth as in a dance).

The tempo of one of the Dancing Stands is modified to gradually phase its flexing-action further-and-further out of harmonious unison with its companion Dancing Stand.

This results in:

1. An “echoing” effect occurring between the first and second Dancing Stands.

2. A “reverse-harmony” in which the flexing-actions of each Dancing Stand become—for an instant—perfectly  diametrically opposed.

3. A “reverse echoing” effect.

4. A re-linking-up-again in the original harmonious position from which one viewed the sculptures in the first place (before—again—falling out of unison and so on and so on and so on and so on).

This is “phasing,” a term Arcangel links to the avant-garde music of Steve Reich, in which the same phrase of music is played on different instruments in different tempos, resulting in a similar cycle of unison to echo to discord back to unison.

The effect is the gradual emergence of a new type of readymade—one having less to do with the objects in space and more to do with the phasing through time which they describe.

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Cory Arcangel made several paintings employing simple actions on the Photoshop imaging software.

One of these is called Photoshop CS: 72 by 110 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=1416 x=1000, mouseup y=208 x=4.

From one point of view, the work is about obsolescence.

Arcangel maxed out the printing technology of 2009/2010 and is interested to see how this maximum level becomes obsolete in time. Also, in several pieces, he stamps a date onto the image as a way to mark it as indelibly tied-up with its own moment in time.

From another point of view, though, the work is about deskilling and automatization.

The object is beautiful due to his use of the cutting-edge c-print technology and the blurring of colors in the gradient, but it is depressing because the gesture is automatic.

Finally, from a third point of view, the title is to be read word-for-word as much as Fountain is to be read word-for-word.

It’s not Photoshop blah, blah, blah… a bunch of funny technical language.


Photoshop CS:
72 by 110 inches,
300 DPI,
square pixels,
default gradient “Spectrum”,
mousedown y=1416 x=1000,
mouseup y=208 x=4.


Computation as readymade.

Monday, January 18th, 2010

In the introduction to his 2008 performance and lecture Continuous Partial Awareness, the artist Cory Arcangel claims that he lost his memory.

Well – actually, it wasn’t that he “lost” his memory – the memories, he explains, were still there in his mind – somewhere.

Rather, he lost the ability to retrieve these memories. The best approximation for this was, according to Arcangel, “like being really lazy” – one knows that the memories are there somewhere, but the effort to search them down becomes such an incredibly laborious task, that one might as well have actually lost them.

Now, memory loss such as Arcangel experienced comes with consequences.

One’s reliance on technology to manage one’s everyday experience increases.

Arcangel’s case was no exception. The creative process, for instance, undergoes a mutation: if one is struck by an idea for a project, one must record the idea through the use of some form of technology or risk losing it altogether.

Now, this technology could be anything – from pen and paper to an e-mail composed to one’s self – it doesn’t matter; just so long as the ideas are recorded somehow and slipped into a database.

What Arcangel realized, though, was that this externalization went beyond mere utility – it took on a life of its own. The juxtapositions of the ideas in his database created a sort of surrealism that became at least as intriguing as the individual ideas, themselves.

The more he fed the database in the hopes of remembering something, the more the database developed its own unique hunger – an evolving aesthetic form demanding a certain amount of tender loving care which would, in turn, dictate the type of ideas that Arcangel was compelled to remember in the first place.

After a while it becomes unclear whether or not he is recording his memories or creating a world.

Perhaps it’s both.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

If you were not acquainted with Cory Arcangel as an artist and you came across his YouTube video of U2′s “Without or Without You” mashed-up with footage of the Berlin Wall coming down, it would read as a “normal” YouTube video. It seems like something that is native to YouTube and not to art.

We could say that it is a work, but not a work “of art.”

Furthermore, it is a really good example of a YouTube video. There is something stirring about it – emotional even. And it seems as though Arcangel went to a lot of work to make it as good as it is.

However, Arcangel is an artist and anything creative he does will inevitably function as an artwork in an art context.

So, what happens when this video is thought of as a work “of art”?

It works as a readymade, illuminating the genre of YouTube video that it mimics – the mash-up.

In the end, though, the beauty of it is not that it works as a YouTube video or as a work of art. Rather, by doing nothing other than shifting context, it illuminates the bridge between the two.

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The artist Cory Arcangel arrived at a strategy for inserting a conversation regarding virtuality/computers into contemporary art without making work about personal computing or contemporary art per se.

Rather, it is an investigation into the force that bridges those worlds.

Here is a passage from an interview Arcangel conducted with Petra Heck, a curator at the Netherlands Media Art Institute, where Arcangel explains the title of a show he did there called “Depreciated”:

[…] in software “depreciated” means something should be avoided and is no longer being updated or supported. In short, something depreciated has been replaced by something newer, but still continues to exist in a sort of state of suspense. This very much comes into play in my work. A lot of these ideas we’re talking about – structuralism, phasing, atonality – were once the vanguard of creative practice, but are no longer being ‘supported’, so to speak.


He does a nice job here of connecting the term “depreciation” from the world of technology to the world of contemporary art, suggesting how the bridge between both of them is their objects’ inability to persist and stay relevant as time has its way with them.

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

I am sitting in my apartment and I am trying to watch Ryan Trecartin videos on my computer and I’m having a lot of difficulty doing it. They are simply too nutso. At first, I thought, “he’s got to do something about that… I honestly can’t even watch this for more than a couple of minutes,” but, then, I realized that, in fact, Trecartin had latched onto something really smart about the way he makes his videos. They are not meant to work cinematically, where one starts from the beginning and watches the whole way through (well, perhaps, one could do it, but to my mind, the point lies elsewhere). His videos, rather, work much better in the world and language of contemporary art where the audience is going to come in at any time and watch for a minute or two, until they get the aesthetic or the point and, then, maybe stay and watch for longer (maybe stay for the whole thing), but, most likely, move on to the next work of art or the next gallery or the next whatever. The art occurs in the conception of the aesthetic, in reflecting upon the fact that this artist made something that works like this and the fact that he did it really convincingly, than it is in the pleasures of the narrative, per se. The fact that there is a narrative is simply part of the art (it’s something you like), but the actual experience of the video as art lies in considering the fact that this thing exists in the world and you’re actually watching it right now and “isn’t that really weird/amazing/whatever?” In an interview with Karen Verschooren, Cory Arcangel talks about this in relation to video art’s emergence into contemporary art:

You have a lot of gallery video artists now and things became less paced in cinema-time. A gallery will change the concept of cinema-time or narrative time. It doesn’t completely erase it, but people can walk in at any point and people can leave at any point. So you’re dealing with a different concept of time than with single-channel video art for instance.

So, one thing that those gallery video artists started to do was to take this into account. They also started to deal with questions like how does a video look, how is it installed, how is it projected, and so on. These are all things that brought video out of the single channel distribution model and into the gallery. We will also have to deal with this.


However, after that consideration of the video within the art gallery context, what is there? What does the work tell you about itself now that you’re acquainted? How does it reflect upon itself, how does it reflect upon its world (the world of contemporary art)?

In some ways, Ryan Trecartin’s videos work better at a party, some sort of social situation where someone is playing a strange or unique video that is not meant to be watched beginning to end (it’s too noisy, you’re talking to people, etc.), than it is, instead, to be reflected upon as part of a social situation, as something that someone would play at their party, like as a lens through which to consider the party.

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Here is a passage from a March, 2006 interview between the artist Cory Arcangel and the Brussels-based curator Karen Verschooren:

Cory: […] you can’t just put a computer with a browser that’s pointing to a website. You have to somehow acknowledge that it is in a gallery, for better or worse. Video, I think, started to do that […] Paper Rad for example presented a huge sculpture, based on animated gifs. It wasn’t necessarily Internet art anymore, but it was art that could only exist because the Internet exists. That is definitely some kind of solution […] That is what is going to happen I think. It is not going to be pure strict Internet art, it’s going to be art that exists because of the Internet or is influenced by the Internet or there was research on the Internet.

Karen: That’s almost everything in art. Almost all contemporary art is influenced by the fact that we live in a networked society.

Cory: That’s fine you know. It is going to be seamlessly integrated into everything else. Which is what it should be. But pure Internet art, I think, should stay on the Internet.



Karen: So, if i understand you correctly, you are saying that it is the responsibility of the artist to transform his internet art piece in that way that it fits into the gallery space. It is not the gallery that has to change its economic model of exhibiting because of their mission statement or whatever.

Cory: Yes.


Verschooren sums up this strategy as roughly “the art needs to change to fit the gallery, instead of the gallery needs to change to fit the art.” Arcangel answers affirmatively, but I wonder if it is this simple. One thing I think is that Post Internet art does not just bend itself to work as “art,” it also changes one’s conception of “art.” Working in the confines of the white cube are not necessarily always limiting to artists. By playing with that history of what has been marked as “art” and successfully entering into that dialogue, these artists are changing what one thinks of as “art” in the same way that Daniel Buren, Michael Asher or earlier artists like Jasper Johns or (of course) Duchamp worked within the gallery to change what could be shown in the gallery and thus be reflected upon as “art”.