Cory Arcangel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cory Arcangel
Born (1978-05-25) May 25, 1978 (age 36)[1]
Buffalo, New York
Nationality American
Education Oberlin Conservatory
Known for New media, digital art
Notable work Various Self Playing Bowling Games, I Shot Andy Warhol, Sans Simon, Sweet 16, Colors, Super Mario Movie, Super Mario Clouds, F1 Racer, a couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould
Movement digital art

Cory Arcangel (born May 25, 1978) is a Brooklyn, New York post-conceptual artist who makes work in many different media, including drawing,[1] music,[1] video,[1] performance art,[2] and video game modifications, for which he is perhaps best known.[1] Arcangel often uses the artistic strategy of appropriation, creatively re-using existing materials such as dancing stands,[3] Photoshop gradients,[1] and YouTube videos[1] to create new works of art. His work explores the relationship between digital technology and pop culture.

Early life[edit]

Arcangel grew up in Buffalo, New York and attended the Nichols School, where he was a star[1] lacrosse goalie. He was exposed to experimental video artists such as Nam June Paik through the Squeaky Wheel Buffalo Media Arts Center. He was very interested in guitar, practicing eight hours a day by the time he turned seventeen. He studied classical guitar at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, but later switched to major in the technology of music, graduating in 2000.[4] At Oberlin, Arcangel met Jacob Ciocci and Paul B. Davis. Arcangel and Davis formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled "The 8-Bit Construction Set".[1]

Arcangel credits Pauline Oliveros, with whom he took a composition class, for his "fascination with finding artistic inspiration in unlikely machines". He describes a piece in which she connected sine wave oscillators to loudspeakers and output the exact audio frequency as the resonance of the concert hall, creating an increasingly louder sound. This, he says, was what made it "click" for him.[1] Arcangel counts many among his influences, including Steve Reich, Tiger Woods, and Weekend at Bernie's.[1]


Super Mario Clouds[edit]

Arcangel's best known works are his Nintendo game cartridge hacks[1] and reworkings of obsolete computer systems of the 1970s and 80s.[5] One example is Super Mario Clouds (2002), a modified version of the Super Mario Bros. video game for Nintendo's NES game console in which all of the game's graphics have been removed, leaving only a blue background with white clouds scrolling slowly from right to left.

Pizza Party[edit]

Pizza Party (2004) was a free, functional software package that could be used to order Domino's pizza through a command-line interface. The program allowed users to order pizza by typing in commands such as pizza_party -pmx 2 medium regular, which - according to the artist[6] - would order 2 medium crust pizzas with pepperoni, mushrooms and extra cheese. The piece was commissioned by Eyebeam Research and Development and implemented by Mike Frumin.[7]

Sans Simon[edit]

In this 2004 single-channel video, Arcangel points the camera at a television screen that is playing a tape of the concert. Each time Paul Simon appears in the frame, Arcangel places his hand over Simon's image.[8] The work is one of several videos, performances and lectures by Arcangel based on Simon and Garfunkel's live concerts.

Punk Rock 101[edit]

Punk Rock 101 (2006) is an example of Arcangel's work with the Web as an artistic medium. For this piece, he re-published Kurt Cobain's alleged suicide letter alongside a series of Google Ads. The ads are tailored to the content of any given page, and the piece juxtaposed Cobain's angst with ads selling social anxiety treatment and motivational speaking. Art critic Paddy Johnson wrote of the work, "This is quite possibly the most brilliant subversion of the medium I have seen."[9]

A couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould[edit]

In 2007, Film and Video Umbrella commissioned Arcangel to produce a new work, a couple of thousand short films about Glenn Gould,[10] using tiny fragments of video, each containing a single note produced by various instruments (and some performing pets) to create an arrangement of Bach's Variation no. 1 (from the Goldberg Variations). To do this, he had to create his own video-editing software.[11]

The Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum[edit]

Arcangel's 2007 LP is an intervention into Bruce Springsteen's 1975 album Born to Run. While the album's title track includes a glockenspiel part, many of the songs on the album do not. Arcangel created a glockenspiel part for each of these songs, releasing them on this vinyl record, which can be played in sync with Springsteen's original to add a 'missing' part to the original album.[12] In addition to the LP, Arcangel has also performed the piece live.[13]

Photoshop CS series[edit]

Arcangel’s Photoshop CS series are large c-print gradient digital paintings created solely in the eponymous popular image editing program. They appear to be a pop art version of abstract expressionism or color field painting.

Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations[edit]

Arcangel's series of Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations are large, colorful prints produced using the gradient tool built into the popular image-processing software Photoshop. The title of each of these works describes the process by which it was made. For example, one 2008 work is titled Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient "Spectrum", mousedown y=1098 x=1749.9, mouse up y=0 x=4160.[14] With these instructions, any Photoshop user can reproduce Arcangel's abstract images exactly on their own computer.

Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ)[edit]

Arcangel created Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ) (2011) by hacking various bowling video games (for game consoles from Atari 2600 to Nintendo GameCube) to throw only gutter balls. Arcangel says, "But throwing a gutter ball is just humiliating. That's what makes the piece so ridiculous, but also sad and even oppressive. The failure seems funny at first–then it flips."[1] Art critic Charles Darwent from The Independent described the work as "complex and funny and moving." Andrea K. Scott of The New Yorker compared the piece to Bruce Nauman's "Stamping in the Studio", where he stamped in an empty room for an hour, as "a ritual of isolation and futility".[1]

The AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound[edit]

Arcangel, with the help of specialists, assembled a collection of 839 trance LPs and corresponding catalogue in Machine Readable Cataloging standard (2012). The vinyl was originally purchased from retired trance and underground dance music disk jockey Joshua Ryan and cataloged over 2011 and 2012 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn by the Cory Arcangel fine arts studio. A key point to remember considering this work is that these records were only ever intended to be used whist DJing and not listened to in a stand alone format. Because of this, this work preserves this music by making it so far removed from its original context and purpose. The vinyl list and images are available on


Arcangel's work has appeared in many museum exhibitions, including a solo exhibition at the Migros Museum in Zurich, Switzerland,[15] and exhibitions in the Barbican Centre in London, England[1] and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois. His work has also been exhibited in many places in New York City, including the Museum of Modern Art's Color Chart,[16] the Whitney Museum,[1][17][18] and the New Museum.[19] His work is included in public collections in locations such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Miami Art Museum, Migros Museum, and Neue Nationalgalerie. Arcangel is represented by Team Gallery in New York, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris and Salzburg, Lisson Gallery in London, and Galerie Guy Bartschi in Geneva.

At 33, Arcangel was the youngest artist ever to receive an entire floor for new work with Pro Tools, his 2011 solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art.[20] Other notable solo shows since have been "Power Points" (2013) and "Masters" (2012). Many of his shows include a variety of old and new work from Arcangel.

Personal life[edit]

Arcangel is married to Hanne Mugaas, a Norwegian curator. Arcangel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His treatments gave him both concentration and memory issues, completely wiping out his short-term memory for a period of time. It also temporarily affected his work, leading him to create works that he described as "hyper-structuralist" or void of "real content". The cancer returned in 2009, and his lymph nodes were removed, freeing him of the disease.[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Scott, Andrea K. (30 May 2011). "Futurism". The New Yorker: 30–34. 
  2. ^ "Continual Partial Awareness: Premiere of a New Performance by Cory Arcangel". Rhizome. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Whitney Museum. "The Whitney to Present Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools" (Press Release). April 11, 2011.
  4. ^ Hung, Hsueh-Min (14 April 2006). "Obie Alum Makes Super Mario Art". Oberlin Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Lieser, Wolf (2010). The World of Digital Art. Ullmann. pp. 208, 211. ISBN 978-0-8416-7164-5. 
  6. ^ "The Official Cory Arcangel Website - Pizza Party: Manual Reference Pages". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Pizza Party". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Electronic Arts Intermix". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "The Best of the Web 2006". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Cory Arcangel". Film and Video Umbrella. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Bliss, A (April 2008). "Cross Platform". The Wire (The Wire Magazine) (290): 20. 
  12. ^ "Cory Arcangel: The Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum < PopMatters". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "geek chic - / scene & herd". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient "Spectrum", mousedown y=1098 x=1749.9, mouse up y=0 x=4160 (2008) - Cory Arcangel". Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  15. ^ "Cory Arcangel: Nerdzone Version 1". Exhibitions (in German). Migros Museum. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Cory Arcangel". Color Chart. Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "2004 Whitney Biennial". Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "A Muse in the Machine: Click. Create.". New York Times. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Killer Instinct". New Museum. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  20. ^ Baker, Allese Thomson (June 2011). "WEBBED OUT: Cory Arcangel Goes Old School". The Brooklyn Rail.