Cory Arcangel is a leading exponent of technology-based art, drawn to video games and software for their ability to rapidly formulate new communities and traditions and, equally, their speed of obsolescence. It was in 1996, while studying classical guitar at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, that he first had a high-speed Internet connection – inspiring him to major in music technology and start learning to code. Both music and coding remain his key tools for interrogating the stated purpose of software and gadgets. In Super Mario Clouds (2002), for example, he disabled the vintage Nintendo game to leave only the iconic backdrop of blue sky and clouds; in Drei Klavierstücke op.11 (2009) Arcangel recreated Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 score of the same name by editing together YouTube clips of cats playing pianos, note for note, paw by paw. Outcomes can be surprising, funny and poignant, whether in the final form of installation, video, printed media or music composition, in the gallery or on the world wide web. Reconfiguring web design and hacking as artistic practice, Arcangel remains faithful to open source culture and makes his work and methods available online, thus superimposing a perpetual question-mark as to the value of the art object.
Arcangel was born in Buffalo, New York in 1978 and lives and works in Stravanger, Norway. He received a BM from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2000. He is the youngest artist since Bruce Nauman to have been given a full floor solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2011). Arcangel has had major exhibitions at Art Projects Ibiza, Spain, with Olia Lialina (2017); Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland (2015); Espace Louis Vuitton München, Munich, Germany (2015); Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark, Copenhagen (2014); Fondation DHC/Art, Montreal, Canada (2013); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA (2013); Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK (2011); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2010); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL, USA (2010). Arcangel received the Kino der Kunst Award in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Nam June Paik Award in 2014. His work was included in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Liverpool Biennial (both 2004). In 2014, he launched Arcangel Surfware, a merchandise and publishing imprint. Its flagship store opened in Stavanger, Norway in 2018.