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Carnegie Museum of Art presents a survey of work by contemporary artist Cory Arcangel
Installation shot of Cory Arcangel: Masters. Photo credit: Tom Little.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- For the 70th installment of its Forum series, Carnegie Museum of Art presents a survey of work by New York City–based contemporary artist Cory Arcangel, curated by Tina Kukielski, associate curator of the 2013 Carnegie International. Best known for his modified versions of obsolete video games, Arcangel employs ready-made digital technology as his primary medium, bringing a playful hacker’s sensibility to critical modifications of pervasive pop-culture phenomena such as websites, YouTube videos, Hollywood films, music, and various other internet platforms. Cory Arcangel: Masters provides a focused survey of Arcangel’s practice in the form of predominantly time-based works and performances, which live as witty interventions into contemporary culture that expose ephemeral moments of modern life. The exhibition reflects the artist’s work since 2002, including the debut of a new installation in the neighboring Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main branch, and Selected Single Channel Videos, a performance by Arcangel.

“In the past decade, few artists have so successfully melded criticality with the sense of playful irreverence that pervades our modern do-it-yourself digital culture as Cory Arcangel,” says Kukielski. “We live in a technological world that combines ubiquity with rapid obsolescence. Some artists turn away from our oversaturated world, while Arcangel embraces the noise.”

Born in Buffalo, NY, in 1978, and educated at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cory Arcangel now makes New York City his home. His early works include Super Mario Clouds (2002), a version of Nintendo’s iconic Super Mario Bros. video game modified to remove all of its visual elements except the background clouds that scroll across the “sky” of the game’s landscape. Other hacked video games (such as I Shot Andy Warhol, a target shooting game altered to make the Pop artist the target), website interventions, photographs based on Photoshop, and video collections harvested from YouTube built Arcangel’s reputation as a thorough and thoughtful digital provocateur.

Arcangel’s work has been featured by many prominent museums and galleries, including solo exhibitions at the Barbican Art Gallery (London) and Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin); in 2011, Arcangel became the second-youngest artist to ever be given a full floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City for his exhibition Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools. His work is known to Pittsburgh audiences from group shows, including NOWN at Wood Street Galleries in 2003 and Mixed Doubles at Carnegie Museum of Art in 2005.

“Arcangel sees new self-made possibilities in every available digital medium and understands that that 21st-century culture requires that an artist be able to break open the circuits of our everyday world,” says Kukielski. “Behind what might be seen as a cynic’s view is actually an audacious optimism and sincere purpose.”

Cory Arcangel: Masters
The works displayed in the Forum Gallery represent Arcangel’s ever-changing interest in various digital media; they provide an overview of an artist whose work often exists outside the art world as it is conventionally understood. Six flat-screen monitors inside the gallery show a representative sample of five of Arcangel’s videos and modified video games, as well as a modified flat-screen TV. These include, among others: the aforementioned Super Mario Clouds; Drei Klavierstücke, op. 11, a selection of found YouTube videos of kittens walking on pianos edited to play Arnold Schoenberg’s iconic atonal composition; Data Diaries, featuring data from a computer translated into beautiful, scrolling pixels; and Untitled Translation Exercise, Richard Linklater’s cult coming-of-age film Dazed and Confused redubbed and outsourced by English-speaking phone-bank employees located in Bangalore. Covering the walls of the gallery is wallpaper designed by Arcangel, taken from a default pattern from the obsolete MacPaint drawing software’s “infinite fill” option. Kukielski also assembled archival material demonstrating Arcangel’s working practice, giving a sense of the artist’s rich source material across media.

Outside the Forum Gallery is Permanent Vacation, two computers infinitely bouncing out-of-office messages to one another. Sweet 16, a two-channel video with phasing sound, is being presented in the museum’s Scaife Galleries. A new work featuring the artist’s recently cataloged techno and trance LP record collection and listening station has been sited in the music library of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main branch, located in the same building as Carnegie Museum of Art.

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