Cory Arcangel, "GAO" (2013)

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Cory Arcangel, "Clinton," 2011. Pencil on paper (produced with Mutoh XP-300 series printer), edition 1 of 3, 11 x 8.5 inches. 

Last year, critic Alix Rule and artist David Levine suggested in a much-discussed article in Triple Canopy that the dense, quasi-theoretical writing found in contemporary art press releases should be reformatted as meter and appreciated as avant-garde poetry. This week, Cory Arcangel took the next logical step and used the email press release for his forthcoming exhibition at DHC/ART, which was circulated on the e-flux mailing list, as an opportunity for a sly text-based intervention.

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Rhizome Editor-at-Large Picks Top 10 for 2011

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Looking back at and consolidating the year in exhibitions is one of the more challenging tasks an art writer faces. Tracking trips to shows throughout the year, and more importantly, the evolution of your feelings about them, is a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task. While in Europe this spring and summer, I was lucky enough to view some of the exhibitions I found more momentous and personally resonant. Starting in Italy with the 54th Venice Biennale, I traveled up to Switzerland through Geneva and Basel, heading next to the UK and landing finally in Berlin. The list below reflects both personal favorites and those that I felt to be important in the confluence of art and technology.  

Josephine Pryde, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre” at Chisenhale, London

British artist Josephine Pryde bears the unique ability to successfully navigate both photography and sculpture, two mediums which seem almost diametrically opposed. Up until this year I’d only been familiar with Pryde’s sculptures of half-finished baskets precariously suspended by butcher hooks, shown at Galerie Neu in Berlin last year; as well as her strange, oversized macro photographs of fabric, featured at Reena Spaulings in 2009. For her presentation at Chisenhale, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre,” Pryde presented two sets of photographs. The first takes medical images of fetuses, superimposing them in Photoshop against barren desert landscapes; the second stages stock photography-style portraits of young, alternative-looking women contemplating whether or not they’re pregnant. Beyond Pryde’s fascinating material practice is her confrontation of oft-taboo, extremely personal, female-specific issues generally elided in contemporary art discourse. 

Cory Arcangel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York  / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Arcangel Fever spread around early spring 2011 as his Whitney retrospective drew near, the artist being asked by a vertiginous number of New York media outlets to grace them with pre-opening press. The show sparked some lukewarm reviews

 

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#DigitalArchivesDay: Anti-Aliasing Arcangel

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Today is the first official Digital Archives Day. All day, archivists and conservators working in digital archives of all kinds will be sharing their work under the #DigitalArchivesDay hashtag, and blogging at dayofdigitalarchives.blogspot.com

I wanted to take a moment today to briefly talk about an innovation in digital imaging and computing that has become a frustation to many artists that have been experimenting with the web since the early years: Anti-aliasing. Put simply, anti-aliasing is a method of image processing that uses interpolation, to construct "new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points." This is a function of digital signal processing that has many many important applications, from helping typefaces look good on screen, to making images not look odd when scaled down.  The use of anti-aliasing that we are talking about here though, is quite specific: the display of resized digital images and video in web browsers. To illustrate how anti-aliasing has affected an era of web content, we will look at Cory Arcangel's "Data Diaries."

Data Diaries on Turbulence.org

In 2002, when Arcangel created "Data Diaries," if one were set the size of an image or video embedded in a web page larger than it's actual size, the browser would use nearest neighbor interpolation to display the image. In other words – if one were to embed a 50 x 50 px image or video as 100 x 100 px, each pixel would appear to double in size. This default form of nearest neighbor interpolation was exploited to aesthetic ends by many early net artists, including Cory. When Cory made Data Diaries, he rendered the original videos at the dimension of 50 x 25 px - so tiny! He embedded these videos at dimensions of 500 x 266 px ...

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The Physical Archive

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Last Thursday, Ben and I took a field trip to check out Rhizome's physical archive. Tara Hart, the New Museum's Digital Archivist, showed us where the Rhizome files are stored in the museum's archive located next door at 231. We had about an hour before we needed to get back to work, so we took couple of boxes and dug right in. This was fun departure from the usual day to day activities around the office. Here are some gems we found from our trip:

 

In a binder labeled "Rhizome Ads", a record of advertisements from various art and technology publications.

(from Leonardo, Vol. 33 Number 2, 2000)

I love the selling points here. Starrynight search interface -- Amazing!

We also found a bunch of folders labeled by month and year which held articles about various artists involved with Rhizome, new media art calls, opening invitations and other ephemera. Flipping through, I came across this great hand written postcard from Mouchette.

(Found in a folder labeled October 2001)

In another folder, I found this Xeroxed announcement for Cory Arcangel's Whitney Artport commission.

(circa 2002)

There are over twenty-something boxes to go through, who knows what we'll find next. I promise to keep you updated!

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Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney

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Cory Arcangel (b. 1978), Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ), 2011. Hacked video game controllers, game consoles, cartridges, disks, and video, dimensions variable. [image via Artforum]

In many ways Cory Arcangel's solo show, on view now at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is about the failure of art and technology. This isn't to say the show is a failure; far from it in fact. Instead it's the way in which Arcangel's work frustrates the expectation that art, particularly art that engages with technology, somehow demonstrate a kind of expertise that justifies its elevation to the status of art. If the purpose of technology, broadly speaking, lies in its use-value, then it is his decided refusal of the kind of productive functionality that one expects from technical objects that makes many of the pieces on view so frustrating. Equally frustrated is the desire for an artfully crafted object expressing a unique critical vision. Instead Arcangel offers us objects that have been hacked and broken, that refuse or distort our interaction, or whose simplicity, effortlessness, nostalgia, and humor mask complex socio-technical systems. As Ed Halter noted in an interview with the artist for Rhizome in 2008, Arcangel's work seems to operate in two extremes:

You either introduce a ridiculously enormous and therefore pointless amount of work into it, or you reduce the work by using automation, or defaults, or outsourcing. So you either extend the amount of work to an enormous extent that makes it absurd, or you reduce it to nothing which undercuts its legitimacy.

Arcangel exerts incredible effort to accomplish the most banal of tasks, or produces aesthetic works that require little if any effort to manufacture — on the part of the artist, at least. In this way the works reflect on the process by which both art and technology are produced, and the means through which we ascribe value to artistic and technological objects.

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From the Rhizome Reblog Archives: Interview with Cory Arcangel by Seth Thompson (2004)

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Interview with Cory Arcangel (2004, 8MB, 3:35 min.)

Originally from wigged productions

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Early Coverage of Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools

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Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools opens Thursday at The Whitney. Here are some interviews in advance:
  • I Sing the Gadget Electronic, New York Times
    “There’s something inherently absurd about people sitting in front of their TVs and controlling a virtual 3-D representation of themselves bowling a ball down a lane,” he said. In modifying his games so that their characters are destined to fail, he said, he’s used advanced technology to unspectacular ends, so “all you’re left with is a repeated, infinite letdown.”

  • Futurism, The New Yorker
    We had an Atari early on, but we never had a Nintendo. I’d watch my friends play when I went to their houses, but that’s it. I think that’s why my pieces are about watching, not interacting.”

  • The Joys of Obsolescence, New York magazine
  • For the series “Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations,”Arcangel took the titular computer files—rectangles of color, fading from one tone into the next, intended as guides for graphic artists—and ordered them made into the enormous, gallery-quality color photographs known as C-prints. You might mistake them for Ellsworth Kelly–ish paintings until you realize that the gradients are standard-­issue with the software, with no inherent artistic content. “I realized that it doesn’t make sense to only use old stuff, because everything’s gonna be old at a certain point,” says Arcangel. “In twenty years, my C-prints might look tacky. In 40 years, they might be kitschy.”

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