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Cory Arcangel

American, born 1978

Photograph by Kerry Ryan McFate. Image courtesy The Pace Gallery. © Courtesy the artist and Team Gallery, New York.

MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds, 2005

Hacked Nintendo cartridges and game systems for multi-channel projection, edition 5/5
Dimensions variable
General Purchase Funds, 2006

Cory Arcangel hails from the first generation to come of age playing video games. In 2004, he was invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial, where he exhibited Super Mario Clouds v2k3, 2003, an altered version of the popular game in which all visual elements, except for the scrolling blue sky strewn with digital clouds, are eliminated. Arcangel was also a founding member of BEIGE Programming Ensemble, a now inactive group of computer enthusiasts who recycled obsolete systems to create artwork and music—an innovative approach to artmaking that references a long tradition of artists who appropriate images or concepts. This appropriation is necessary to Arcangel’s practice: few people may understand how computer art is created, but many may recognize the imagery, giving them a window into his work.

To create MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds, 2005, Arcangel “hacked” into MIG 29 Soviet Fighter, a video game released in 1989 by Camerica (a bootleg company that produced unlicensed games for Nintendo Entertainment Systems). The original game takes the player on a flight-simulated combat mission in a Cold War–era Soviet MiG-29 fighter jet. Like many similarly themed games, the player must shoot at enemy planes and tanks while avoiding return fire. Arcangel appropriated imagery from the game to create a work of art that consists of two “new” cartridges. One cartridge features clouds that scroll forever upward and the other features a jet that flies in a never-ending loop. For Arcangel, part of the appeal of gaming systems is that, like all forms of technology, they are destined for obsolescence and replacement by the next improved iteration. The imagery of these games, however, is forever embedded in the generation of users who played them.

About the Artist

Cory Arcangel was born in 1978 in Buffalo, New York. He attended the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where he received his Bachelor of Music in 2000. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, and the Team Gallery, New York, in 2006; the Max Wigram Gallery, London, in 2007; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, in 2010; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2011. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Gallery Koko, Tokyo; The Power Plant, Toronto; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the Christine Konig Galerie, Vienna. Arcangel perceives software, hardware, and internet resources as raw art materials with an impartiality which reveals a completely novel style. A central theme in his work is the aging process of technologies—he has become well known through his practice of archeology in historic computer technology of the 1980s. His sculptures from the CNC Wire Form Product Demonstration series, shown in two series in Paris, could be called “digital ready-mades.” Arcangel currently lives and works in New York.