Preview Cory Arcangel’s New Exhibit at the Whitney

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You may remember artist Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario Clouds, a modified cartridge of the Nintendo game Super Mario Brothers “minus the game.” The piece, a series of floating clouds that would normally serve as a backdrop to the activity of the game Super Mario Brothers, was his breakout work when it was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Thus, Arcangel’s new exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art — Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools — is a homecoming of sorts. While hacks and re-appropriations of old computer systems like Nintendo and Atari are Arcangel’s preferred media, his new exhibition includes — in addition to video games — bronzes, kinetic sculpture, cell phone signal amps, and pen plotter drawings created using tools that incorporate professional technologies with a taste for the aesthetics of old-school video. Following is a series of works you can see at the exhibit, including the artist’s Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations, a set of unique, eye-popping prints created with Photoshop’s standard gradient tool.

Cory Arcangel, Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ), 2011 (detail). Various modified video game controllers, game consoles, cartridges, disks, and multi-channel video projection, dimensions variable. The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London, February 10-May 22, 2011; co-commission with Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Team Gallery, New York; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg and Paris; and the artist. Photo credit: © Eliot Wyman. Courtesy Barbican Art Gallery, London

The centerpiece of the show is a selection of self-playing bowling computer games from the late 1970s to the 2000s. The games, projected on a large scale in chronological order, present a history of both video game bowling and of graphic representation, from abstraction to realism, in the digital medium. Each game in the exhibit has been hacked and throws only gutter balls.

Cory Arcangel (b.1978), Still from Various Self Playing Bowling Games (aka Beat the Champ), 2011.Various hacked video game controllers, game consoles, cartridges, disks, and multi-channel video projection, dimensions variable. The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London, February 10-May 22, 2011; co-commission with Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Team Gallery, New York; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg and Paris; and the artist. Photo credit: © Eliot Wyman. Courtesy of Barbican Art Gallery, London

The self-playing bowling games explore our interest in the relationship between technology and the human body, and the extension of the actions of the body into virtual environments.

Cory Arcangel, Masters, 2011 (still). Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

Arcangel’s golf game invites audience participation. Viewers are invited to participate in putting a golf ball that — with signature Arcangel irony — never goes into the hole. For Arcangel, golf games are a simulation of a simulation, “a virtual re-enactment of a fake hunt played out in a carbon copy of nature.” The piece is a comment on our obsession with overdone and highly artificial alternate realities.

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=22100 x=14050, mouseup y=19700 x=1800, from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations 2008-, 2010. Chromogenic print, 84 x 66 (213.4 x 167.6). Private collection. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

The exhibition includes works from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations, which consists of singular prints that display fades between colors created by using the standard gradient tool in the popular software Photoshop.

Cory Arcangel, Hello World #1, from the series CNC Wireform Demonstrations, 2010-, 2010. CNC bent stainless steel with electro-polish finish, artist software. 32 x 7 1/2 x 5 (81.3 x 19.1 x 12.7). Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

CNC Wireform Demonstrations is a series of wire sculptures generated at random from software that Arcangel wrote and then produced by using the advanced industrial wire-forming equipment called computer numerical control (CNC).

Cory Arcangel, Sport Products (Red Frame, Yellow Lens, White Accessories, Silver Logo), 2010. Painted bronze, rubber, and Oakley M-Frame lenses. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

Cory Arcangel, Research in Motion (Kinetic Sculpture #6), 2011. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

This piece is a moving sculpture put together from store-bought “dancing stands,” or rotating consumer display systems that Arcangel modified to move at a specific speed. In the museum context, Research in Motion is reminiscent of Sol LeWitt’s “structures,” a series of modular sculptures that begin with a cube. On a side note, Sol LeWitt: Structures, a special exhibition of LeWitt’s sculptures, is on view at City Hall Park.

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=16700 x= 10550, mouseup y=27450 x=6350, 2010. Unique C-print 287 x 190.5 cm (113 x 75 in). Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg, and the artist. Photo credit: Philippe Servent

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=6500 x=17800, mouseup y=13950 x=21450, 2010. Unique C-print 287 x 190.5 cm (113 x 75 in). Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg, and the artist. Photo credit: Philippe Servent

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Blue, Red, Yellow”, mousedown y=22100 x=14050, mouseup y=19700 x=1800, 2010. Unique C-print 213.4 x 167.6 cm (84 x 66 in). Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg, and the artist. Photo credit: Philippe Servent

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Russell’s Rainbow” (turn transparency off), mousedown y=18000 x=14200, mouseup y=18000 x=17450, 2010. Unique C-print 213.4 x 167.6 cm (84 x 66 in). Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg, and the artist. Photo credit: Philippe Servent

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Yellow, Violet, Red, Teal,” mousedown y=16450 x=10750, mouseup y=18850 x=20600, from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations 2008-, 2010. Chromogenic print. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Blue, Red, Yellow,” mousedown y=18200 x=1350, mouseup y=23400 x=18250, from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations 2008-, 2010. Chromogenic print. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=25100 x=0, mouseup y=0 x=19750, from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations 2008-, 2010. Chromogenic print. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist

Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=27450 x=6700, mouseup y=4800 x=13400, from the series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations 2008-, 2010. Chromogenic print. Courtesy Team Gallery, New York, and the artist