Man and machine go nuts at DHC

Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary and digital artist Cory Arcangel talks about his new exhibition at DHC/ART.

“Sweet 16” (still), by Cory Arcangel, 2006. Dual channel video from a digital source (15:55 minutes).

In the hands of Brooklyn artist Cory Arcangel, even our most mundane daily interactions with computers can’t help but feel strangely alien.

For those not acquainted with the 35-year-old’s diverse portfolio, the DHC/ART will be displaying a quasi-greatest hits of Arcangel’s subversive multidisciplinary oeuvre, called Power Points, starting Friday.

From using the Photoshop gradient tool as art, to the omnipresence of the Comic Sans font on the exhibit walls and brochures, the sights, sounds and sculptures created by Arcangel will have you rethinking your relationship with tools we take for granted.

“Computers are part of mainstream culture now,” he says. “When I started over a decade ago that wasn’t quite the case, but today people understand those interactions with machines better, it’s part of our daily language.”

One of his most relatable works is “Permanent Vacation,” where two adjacent iMacs email each other automated Out of Office replies in a continuous loop until their hard drives fill.

Another strange entry consists of small, office-sized waste bins filled with crushed soda cans — specifically a diet, zero calorie-type brand. “It’ll make more sense if I explain that I actually saw this,” he says. “It was somebody who had an addiction to, of all things, Coke Zero. He must have had 35 empty cans of it in the trashcan, and nothing else.”

A few years ago, Arcangel came into one of the world’s most impressive collections of trance music 12-inches via a seller on Twitter. He bought it, and with the help of a couple of archivists, thoroughly catalogued every single one of them to anal levels. It meant inputting info on all 839 records into a database, including taking down whatever notes or scratches might have been on them (Arcangel used MARC standards, in case you were curious). Dubbed the AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound, patrons will be able to listen to the records and peruse binders containing all the painstakingly documented info.

“I listened to all of them, it took about a year, with a couple of people. In one of the binders, I rated each of them on a scale from one to five,” he says. Later this fall, Arcangel will debut a new suite of piano compositions here, performed alongside local electro-carilloner D’Eon.

Among numerous other works, Arcangel will also be bringing a trio of video game modifications to the DHC, including the brilliantly frustrating Self Playing Nintendo 64 NBA Courtside 2. Will Shaq ever make a free throw? See the video clip below to find out. ■

Power Points runs from June 21 to Nov. 24 at DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, 451 St-Jean. Arcangel will be giving a talk with curator John Zeppetelli this Friday, June 21, from noon to 1 p.m.

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