Cory Arcangel is not a very eloquent public speaker, but the passion he has about computer art and his own creations is extremely visible. Arcangel mainly focuses on “disassembling” existing programs or deconstructing physical pieces and recreating them so they become something entirely new. His themes typically touch on the relationship between technology and culture and the artwork is mostly computer generated.
Having been featured in famous museum’s (including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim), Arcangel’s video game inspired artwork is not to be overlooked. In the piece Super Mario Clouds, he hacked the coding from the Nintendo game Super Mario Bros. and easily removed all the scenery, characters, and just left the plain blue sky, so all the user would see during his installation was the projected image of floating, pixilated clouds.
Arcangel is extremely interested in “open source culture” and likes to recycle, reuse, and steal coding or aesthetics from preexisting materials. Some believe this method is controversial and lazy, since he isn’t exactly making his own totally original content, but the outcome is actually very original. Arcangel plays with simple programming and makes creative videos of leftover RAM taken from the users who have logged into public computers. The pieces are showcased on his website and they turn what he calls “garbage” into compelling and outsourced works of art. People respond to images that they are familiar with, so his work with video games and computers is very popular.
Unlike most artists, Arcangel also draws inspiration directly from other artists (including Douglas Gordon and John Simon) with pride, rather than shame or embarrassment. He loves the artwork that these individuals have done, so he applies their techniques to his own outlets and is able to create very comical, tongue-in-cheek videos productions. Adding to the controversy surrounding Arcangel’s art, this type of replication can be deemed unoriginal. However, in his talk, Arcangel attributes where his ideas come from with complete earnestness.
Arcangel’s outlook on digital art is very positive and he says near the end of his lecture that “I like it…you can’t get mad when people appropriated what you appropriated”. In a competitive world, it’s refreshing for him to be so open and not possessive over his art work and make demands over copyrighted material, etc. Artists should take note of Arcangel’s humble attitude to make the world of digital media a lot less stuffy.