One of the leading media artists of his generation, the New York artist Cory Arcangel has been numerously described as the Andy Warhol of tech. However, Arcangel himself prefers to be compared to Seinfeld. Humour is an important aspect of Arcangel’s work, enabling him to say things that are sometimes awkward to comment upon otherwise. Arcangel rose to fame with Super Mario Clouds (2002), an image from an old Super Mario Brothers Nintendo game in which everything was erased but the clouds, evoking a somewhat nostalgic feeling about first ever computer games.
In the upcoming exhibition at Lisson Gallery exciting new artworks range from a series of silkscreens on metallic foil telling the musical history of the Kelly Clarkson's song 'Since U Been Gone' – to the pollution of the room with diet sprite mist by Real Taste which explores the phenomenon of “zero” calorie guilt-free sodas. Arcangel’s fascinating contemplation of contemporary concerns and the relationship between technology and culture definitely makes his latest exhibition a must-see!
Dazed Digital: When and where are you happiest?
Cory Arcangel: Surfing the net late at night. Or programming something (with no deadline!).
DD: In what way has Pauline Oliveros influenced you to seek artistic inspiration in unlikely machines?
Cory Arcangel: Well, being in her class opened up my mind to almost everything.... the possibilities of performance, composition, and what it meant to be a creative person in the world. A light bulb of sorts went off in my head in her class. All of a sudden it seemed clear to me that I wanted to participate in trying to push things forward. Of course it didn't hurt hearing her teach the history of electronic music - which she helped pioneer - since the 50's. What an inspiration she was (and continues to be)!
DD: Why do you prefer graphic representation in the digital medium to traditional methods such as painting on canvas?
Cory Arcangel: There are a few inkjet on canvas works, aka "paintings", in my show at Lisson Gallery. A painting doesn't necessarily need paint anymore I think. I tend to like the ease of distribution associated with digital files. So for example with a lot of my web work, it ends up in front of eyeballs that otherwise would not wander into a gallery. In this way the work can be part of contemporary culture in ways outside of the fine art discourse. But, I don't as a rule prefer one over the other, any medium can be used to communicate effectively. Painting is of great interest to me, and I feel lucky to be here in London right now as I can't wait to see the Richter show at the Tate!
DD: What do you recall of your first encounter with the high-speed Internet connection?
Cory Arcangel: It was the first time I ever "surfed the web", before that I would just dial up to news groups, and chat rooms, so what I remember from surfing the web was it being soooooo confusing. I remember thinking, where were all these "pages" saved? Finally someone explained to me, they were just hypertext markup language files saved on the hard-drives of other computers around the world. That blew my mind. In fact, it's still awesome!
DD: What are your plans for the future?
Cory Arcangel: I have a two person show opening up in New York in early Nov at Team Gallery with my friend Pierre Bismuth. In 2012, I will be working on some new web projects, a few books, and a EP of new compositions.
'Speakers Going Hammer' takes place at Lisson Gallery between 12 October – 12 November, 2011