Get it? An Interview with Cory Arcangel on Comedy

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Humor has been a prominent but under-analyzed aspect of art in the past century; the comedy impulse is strongest in the history of media appropriation and conceptual art, beginning with Duchamp's poker-faced readymades and continuing through the work of Bruce Conner, Andy Warhol, Dara Birnbaum, Ant Farm, Jeff Koons and many others. Even the very way we talk about art overlaps with laff-lingo: we call certain pieces "one-liners," value work for being "wry" or "witty," and discuss whether or not a viewer "gets it." And of course, one of the first things someone will ask who doesn't "get it" is: "Is this supposed to be a joke?"

Cory Arcangel's work has almost always played on the logic of the joke in its construction: witness his most recent exhibit, "Adult Contemporary" at Team Gallery, which includes work like Self Playing Sony Playstation 1 Bowling (2008), an old bowling game hacked to only throw gutter-balls, and Permanent Vacation (2008 version), two silver iMacs set to email each other and exchange "out of office" messages until they fill up and crash. But the line between comedy and art more or less dissolved in Arcangel's related event at the New Museum's New Silent Series, Continuous Partial Awareness. In this stand-up-style routine, Arcangel performed an hour-long monologue by reading off a huge list of his unused ideas for new artworks, ranging from "give a boring artist's talk entirely through a vocoder" to "have intern watch Lawnmower Man 10,000 times and then make a website about all the plot inconsistencies."

At the very real risk of ruining humor by critiquing it, Cory and I meet recently to discuss the relationship between comedy and art in both his work and that of others. - Ed Halter

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youtube as subject II (2008) - Constant Dullaart

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Not Valid (2008) - Jonathan Vingiano

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Everything All The Time Right Now (2008) - Caleb Larsen

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Primary (1978) - Gary Hill

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e-flux's Journal #1

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Writing in 1964, philosopher Herbert Marcuse in his seminal text One-Dimensional Man describes the complacency of individuals within advanced industrial societies as a result of an identification with the conditions imposed, where the seduction of consumerism yields a one-dimensional thinking.

Fast forward to 2008, and Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man is still with us. The new issue of e-flux's online publication Journal takes up this topic by asking, "When political power begins to look less like a tank and more like your best friend, where do you look to locate the sources of its authority, and how do you articulate new, flexible modes of resistance?" Perhaps the most interesting ruminations in Journal come from Eastern European case studies, such as design firm Metahaven's discussion of the implications of branding nation states which begins with a description of a consulting visit with the Estonian government and in the interview with curator and art historian Inke Arns where she goes over the practice of "subversive affirmation," a mimetic exaggeration which denounces an activity by performing it to its ultimate limit, within Eastern European conceptual art practice.

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minimal conceptual art of the ascii realm (2001) - Wendy Mukluk

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Via Robert Wodzinski

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24 Hour Psycho (1993) - Douglas Gordon

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Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho slowed down to last 24 hours.

Part 1 & Part 2 of a 1 hour and 45 minute interview with Douglas Gordon

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inbetween (2003) - Soo Yeun Ahn

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Putting Faith in the Internet

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Depending upon the utopian or dystopian narratives to which you might subscribe, the internet is a bit like heaven or hell--with the pearly gates of cyberspace welcoming you to a world where you want for nothing or a fiery apocalyptic dungeon big enough to house all your nightmares. Either vision is intense and exactly the sort of stuff that religious iconography was once made of; yet the wide distribution of devotional messages broadcast on the web seems only to have cast a dim shadow upon the net art community. More recently, spiritualities new age and old school have been forceful fodder in contemporary art, while glossing over a true connection to the divine. Italian curator Domenico Quaranta suggests, "take Martin Kippenberger's crucified frog, for instance, or the cross submerged in the urine of Andres Serrano, or Maurizio Cattelan's Nona ora, or the Virgin Mary blackened with elephant dung by Chris Ofili, or Vanessa Beecroft's recent Madonnas. All of these works are undoubtedly imbued with their own form of 'sacredness,' yet they would hardly be hung in a church." Quaranta's exhibition, "For God's Sake," installed now at Nova Gorica, Solevenia's 9th annual Pixxelpoint festival, looks at the simultaneous increase in religion-themed work and the ever wider distribution of mass-mediated sermons and religious messages, through new technologies. The question is whether this amounts to an increase in religious devotion, or rather a diluted or muddied conflation of spiritual values in a time of mixed forms and mixed messages arriving in convergent media. As with ZKM's "Medium Religion" show, which we covered last week, Quaranta's show (and in particular his poignant curatorial statement), look at attitudinal shifts parallel to media developments. The long list of international media artists he's selected present us with mostly ...

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