Examining the impact of computers and internet technologies on contemporary art.
Without YouTube, the Brooklyn-based multimedia artist and computer programmer Cory Arcangel’s extraordinary 2009 video work Drei Klavierstücke, Op.11, could probably never have been made. In deciding to celebrate the centenary of Arnold Schoenberg’s groundbreaking atonal piano work of the same name, Arcangel downloaded from the internet 170 or so videos of cats walking on piano keyboards.
Analysing the notes in each one, he edited them together to produce a performance of the work ostensibly played by felines. The result is both cute and – true to Schoenberg’s score – cacophonous. He then posted it on YouTube, where more than 100,000 people have watched part one.
Whether it is manipulating old Nintendo cartridges so characters are excised (as in Super Mario Clouds V2K3) or setting up computers to email out-of-office messages to one another ad infinitum or until one machine ceases to function (Permanent Vacation), Arcangel’s practice has technology at its heart.
No wonder he is one of more than 60 artists – among them Roy Ascott, James Bridle, Aristarkh Chernyshev, Constant Dullaart, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Trevor Paglen, Nam June Paik, Ryan Trecartin and Ulla Wiggen – to feature in this a survey of the impact computers and IT are having on contemporary art.