Hacking Art: An Interview with Cory Arcangel

by Art Fag City on March 28, 2006 Events

As I have mentioned before, Art Fag City is also considering going by the name The Right Arm of the Cory Arcangel Propaganda Machine, since I continously provide glowing reports on the artist’s work. Arcangel’s most recent piece Don’t Touch My Computer Home Users Guide, is an informative and witty pdf file with complete instructions on how and why he made all the work in his most recent show at Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery in Paris. It is important to be aware that evaluating this piece in the context of traditional mediums, is not only going to make it seem like a total waste of time, but would be missing the point entirely. There isn’t any reason for painters to provide an instructional guide to paint application, (that’s what the last several hundred years in art history are for), but there is certainly good cause for new media artists to create these kinds of documents. The act supports and helps build the community that Arcangel is a part of, by siting and making widely available, the knowledge base, and resources that went into creating these works. It should not go unnoted that in creating manuals such as these Arcangel secures himself a place in the annals of art history, establishing himself as a central source for information, and influence (well, you know, him and Boing Boing).

Now, if someone my age is going to be in the “Annals of art history”, I’m naturally going to want to talk with them. As luck would have it Arcangel had a bit of time to answer a few questions I had about his work. Our discussion has been published by the good folks at Fanzine, and an excerpt of the introduction is posted below.

I hadn't seen new media artist Cory Arcangel in close to three years, but when we got together again recently for the purpose of an interview, he was wearing the same Buffalo Sabers jacket he had on when we first met at Harvestworks in 2000. Admittedly, Arcangel's choice of wardrobe has not been a popular point of discussion among the press, so there may be some question as to the relevance this has to the following interview. I will attempt to answer this by beginning with the disclaimer that, in truth, it may be no more than idiosyncratic behavior, but, at the time I couldn't help but make a connection between his standing interest in Sabers outer wear, and his similarly specific and long time engagement in such things as metal bands, Google, and “hacking.” Since the majority of subjects that attract the artist eventually become part of his work, it is quite possible that a Google hack that brings back only winning game results of the Sabres Hockey team in the year Black Sabbath broke up is next on the artist's slate to complete. Of course, there is no need to label this as a prediction.


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