Cory Arcangel talk at MOCA NOMI, April 24, 2010. Copyright: Noelle Theard.
The use of technology and self-expression are becoming more and more intertwined as people evolve to depend on everyday use of the Internet. The Internet enables us to extend our assumed personalities over wide networks, which begins to blur the lines between life, art, and Internet personas. How does this effect our communication with each other in real life? How does real life rank up against what’s documented on the Internet? And do people who don’t operate in that sphere get left in the dust? If you’re over the age of 65 and attended the recent Cory Arcangel ‘artist talk’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, the answer to that last question would probably be yes.
Cory Arcangel seemed to ask these questions of the Internet in regards to perceiving art during his heavily internet-aided artist lecture. We were taken on an automated ride on his stream of consciousness for two hours. He amused us with random websites, favorite YouTube videos, and examples of his own art available on the Internet as well. Arcangel sees the beauty in a devout fan taking the time to make a Deep Purple fan page. His pace was very fast and where the first few rows of white hairs must have had a hard time keeping up, this Internet generated format was appealing and perfectly normal to the younger generation.
Cory Arcangel, Drei Klavierstücke op 11, 2009, Single channel video from a digital source, 15:58 minutes, Edition of 5 from Cory Arcangel The Sharper Image, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Copyright: Steven Brooke.
Generation Y is used to having five windows open at once, watching YouTube videos while simultaneously downloading music, sharing what they just ate for breakfast and getting frustrated when pages take longer then two seconds to load. Arcangel is of this generation and uses the Internet as a playground for his comical interventions. He has many works that solely exist on the Internet, such as Punk Rock 101 (2006), where he placed Google ads on Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter. Or Drei Klavierstucke, Op.11 (2009) (pictured above) that consists of video footage taken from YouTube of cats on pianos reorchestrated to play Schoenberg. This video was displayed the Museum as well as it is still continually available on Arcangel’s YouTube channel. This begins to mark an age divide of who Arcangel’s real audience is, of who his art is more accessible to. The younger generation has grown up not only surfing the Internet but also learning to communicate with it. I think this specific audience will be the most able to find inspiration in the simplicity and humor of Arcangel’s ideas.
Besides his Internet work much of the media Arcangel uses stems from a childhood that anyone who grew up in the U.S. in the 80’s and 90’s can relate to. From vintage video games to Guns N’ Roses, walking through his exhibition can give you a sense of familiarity and comradery. In Untitled Translation Exercise (2006) Arcangel sent the entire script of the cult film Dazed and Confused to an Indian outsourcing company to have it read aloud. He then dubbed the Indian accented version to the original movie. There arises a tension between an immediate sense of nostalgia and then the humorous shock of hearing unfamiliar pronunciations on an old favorite. Similar to when you go to take a sip of milk and get orange juice.
I Shot Andy Warhol, 2002. Handmade hacked Hogan’s Alley cartridge and Nintendo NES video game system, Edition 5. In the background from left: Photoshop CS: 84×66 inches, 300 dpi, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=8,900 x=15,600, mouseup y=13,800 x=0, 2009. Unique c-print, 84 x 66 x 2 ¼ inches. Collection of Ninah & Michael Lynne. Photoshop CS: 110×72 inches, 300 dpi, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=27,450 x=6,700, mouse up y=4,800 x=19,050, 2009, Unique c-print, 113 x 75 x 2 ¼ inches, Collection of Rachel & Carl Berg. Copyright: Steven Brooke.
In the piece I Shot Andy Warhol (2002) (pictured above) Arcangel altered a Hogan’s Alley video game to where the obvious goal is to shoot Andy Warhol. Arcangel temporarily leads us to a potential frame of mind of Valerie Solanas with the simplicity of a plastic toy gun. Again this piece is naturally more relatable to a younger audience because of a shared collective past with the artist. If you grew up with games like Duck Hunt and Mortal Kombat, picking up the gun was like second nature with the apparent objective being to kill the opponent. Of course he could also be hinting at how our culture glorifies crime with simulated violence. Or how far removed we’ve become from this historical event. Why is something that could be considered a brutal crime, funny?
Being that I am part of a younger generation, I can see how an artist like Cory Arcangel would speak to us. Contemporary art can sometimes seem like an elite club. Where if you haven’t read a certain theoretical text that relates to it, you can’t get in. Now, on the other hand, Arcangel’s work offers the feeling that we can be on the inside of the joke. Throughout his (unpretentious) lecture and practice he exemplifies to be oneself. Besides exploring the internet as a new frontier for art and how technology is beginning to “define our lives”, Arcangel shows us that if put into the right context, surfing the internet, hacking video games, and idolizing Axel Rose can get you somewhere[.]
This post was contributed by Autumn Casey.