Paddy Johnson at Time Out: Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools

by Paddy Johnson on August 17, 2011 · 6 comments Time Out New York

Cory Arcangel's Photoshop gradient prints

This week at Time Out New York I discuss Cory Arcangel’s Pro Tools exhibition at The Whitney. Long story short, it’s not good. For a bit of rationale behind that statement, here’s a teaser:

Was no one at the Whitney behind the wheel when planning Cory Arcangel's solo exhibition “Pro Tools”? I ask because so little of the artist's new work has any resonance at all, and the show doesn't present any of his older art. Those who've come looking for Arcangel's iconic Super Mario Bros. hack, which shows only the background clouds, will be sorely disappointed.

There are so many ways this show lets its audience down, it's hard to know where to start. With its explosion of arcade sounds, half-formed thoughts and exhaustive wall texts, the proceedings assault you from the very moment you enter. The artist's chronological series of hacked bowling video games throwing only gutter balls is projected along the entire back wall of one gallery, a display that simply can't enhance the small amount of tee-hee to be had on the subject of failure. Back in the day (around 2003), Arcangel would talk about liking Nintendo Entertainment Systems because of the brightness they achieved compared with the usual colors on your TV set, but here, those differences have been completely muted.

To read the full piece, click here.



Jason Irla August 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thank you! I’ve been waiting to read this review (in content that is), so I didn’t feel so crazy for disliking this show. I’ve heard it hyped so much and just can’t understand it. The show is full of what I thought were vapid and short sighted one-liners, especially compared with the elegance of his earlier work—Super Mario Clouds (2002), specifically. I arrived at the show wanting to like it so much, and left feeling disappointed. I’m so glad to read this honest and accurate review of Archangel’s show. Poor curating or bad artistic choices? I think it’s most likely a combination of both. Either way the show was a let-down. The gradients were a high point for me as well as the hacked video mixer/monitor on the A/V cart just inside the entrance (Research in Motion was pretty good too, cute more than anything else), but I could have lived without the rest of the show.

Sven August 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

i still dont understand what was great about super mario clouds. that too is a vapid one liner…but it’s profound and beautiful just because its content is drifting clouds in a blue sky taken directly from the video game? 

Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thank you Thank you Thank you! I was hoping someone else other than me and the friend I went with felt this way about the show.

John Michael Boling August 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

The most problematic aspect of ‘Pro Tools’ for me were the institutional descriptions (explanations) of the work — not the work itself — and since I wasn’t personally there when the exhibition was assembled I wouldn’t dare assume whether or not it was Paul or Arcangel (or committee?) who was responsible for the art-speak. That said — I fucking loved the show. I didn’t notice anything in your write up about Arcangel’s “Since U Been Gone”. That work blew my mind. I would state without hesitation that “Since U Been Gone” is the best piece i’ve seen at the Whitney in the last five years.

A Blade of Grass August 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Yes, Pro Tools almost felt designed to showcase Arcangel’s weaknesses as an artist.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: