Tool Time: Cory Arcangel at The Whitney


Cory Arcangel (b. 1978), Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ), 2011. Hacked video game controllers, game consoles, cartridges, disks, and video, dimensions variable. [image via Artforum]

In many ways Cory Arcangel's solo show, on view now at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is about the failure of art and technology. This isn't to say the show is a failure; far from it in fact. Instead it's the way in which Arcangel's work frustrates the expectation that art, particularly art that engages with technology, somehow demonstrate a kind of expertise that justifies its elevation to the status of art. If the purpose of technology, broadly speaking, lies in its use-value, then it is his decided refusal of the kind of productive functionality that one expects from technical objects that makes many of the pieces on view so frustrating. Equally frustrated is the desire for an artfully crafted object expressing a unique critical vision. Instead Arcangel offers us objects that have been hacked and broken, that refuse or distort our interaction, or whose simplicity, effortlessness, nostalgia, and humor mask complex socio-technical systems. As Ed Halter noted in an interview with the artist for Rhizome in 2008, Arcangel's work seems to operate in two extremes:

You either introduce a ridiculously enormous and therefore pointless amount of work into it, or you reduce the work by using automation, or defaults, or outsourcing. So you either extend the amount of work to an enormous extent that makes it absurd, or you reduce it to nothing which undercuts its legitimacy.

Arcangel exerts incredible effort to accomplish the most banal of tasks, or produces aesthetic works that require little if any effort to manufacture — on the part of the artist, at least. In this way the works reflect on the process by which both art and technology are produced, and the means through which we ascribe value to artistic and technological objects.


Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D) at T293, Naples, Italy


The infamous, brackishly titled Berlin-based duo Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D) have exhibited widely from an extremely young age. Dropping out of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and moving to Berlin at age 20, Keller and Kosmas became known in the late naughts for their dirt-style website documenting static works with a fantastical, conspiracy theorist sci-fi sensibility, in addition to weed-infused performances of laser shows and naked babes. As an artistic entity, Keller and Kosmas essentially grew up online, and for better or worse, in the public eye. Now barely 25, Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas enjoy exhibition opportunities throughout Europe and the United States, albeit with a more concerted sense of art historical sensitivity, production know-how, and overarching artistic maturity.


Barmecidal Projects: FREE 4 ALL


The question of exhibiting art online has lingered since the early years of internet art. Last month Mike Golby and Jillian Kay Ross entered the conversation with their inaugural exhibition FREE 4 ALL at Barmecidal Projects. Barmecidal Projects is an entirely digital 3D gallery that is a virtual replica of Mathew Marks gallery in New York. FREE 4 ALL, which ran from April 16th- May 16th with an accompanying opening at Butcher Gallery in Toronto, features work by Alex Mcleod, Amalia Ulman, Arielle Gavin, Brad Tinmouth, Brian Khek, Danielle Bessada, David Hanes, Emily Jones, Georgia Dickie, Iain Ball, Jennifer Chan, Jillian Kay Ross, Jon Rafman, Justin Bochek, Jónó Mí Ló, Jarrod Wilson, Kaitlin Till- Landry, Lauren Brick, Lauren Elder, Lee Ormerod, Liam Wylie, Lili Huston- Herterich, Mike Goldby, Orlando Orellano, Rachael Milton, Shelbi Chew, and Tara Downs.

Jon Rafman - BNPJ Urinals (BANNED), 2011.

The gallery’s name Barmecidal, "providing only the illusion of abundance; illusory or imaginary and therefore disappointing," is manifest in the articulation of the virtual exhibition space. By mapping the traditional white cube onto a virtual model, Barmecidal Projects explores the modes of exhibition in both real and artificial space. Golby and Ross aspire to:
…bring together artists working in digital and immaterial forms. Digitally created works existing in the space are rendered in high-gloss, hyperrealistic fashion. Having these objects exist in the gallery space further blurs the boundaries between the Real and representation; the works will be so shiny and irresistible by virtue of their digital nature that they will supersede reality.

Jillian Kay Ross - Hearth, 2011. Arielle Gavin - Untitled, 2010. (Left to right)

Due the technical limitations of the simulated model, visitors are unable to browse through the gallery freely and are lead through a video tour that moves quickly through the space. The experience ...