Cory Arcangel has said he thinks of his paintings as readymade sculptures, and his affinity for using just about anything at hand as an avenue for making art is one of his most endearing qualities. Since 2004, when his reprogrammed Super Mario Bros. video game caused a stir at the Whitney’s annual Biennial, Arcangel has had a growing halo of buzz for the last few years, and now he’s the youngest person to have a one-man show at the museum’s tony Upper East Side location.
Arcangel came of age in the 1990s, which new consumer tech such as the Nintendo was becoming mainstream, and computers became commonplace in middle-class households. And his adult years saw the decline of those technologies, replaced by smaller, faster devices. So much of his art deals with pulling tech out of the dustbin — whether it’s 15 year old computer-plot drawing machines or old videogames — and refashioning them, thus evoking a strange sort of nostalgia. Its no accident that people often compare him to Warhol. Arcangel uses pop tech much like Warhol used pop imagery.
On view until September 11, “Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools” pulls off a small miracle: It makes old media look beautiful, and, at its best, transforms repetitive failure and planned obsolescence into something almost monumental. Here are six of our favorite works from the exhibition.