Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Movie Pt 1

Cory Arcangel's site is worth exploring.

Renowned new media artist Cory Arcangel once said, “I think to be an artist, on one side, you have to be a space cadet. Then on the other side, you’re basically running a small business, so you have to somehow muster the brainpower against your own instincts. Arcangel is a Buffalo, New York native and has spent most of his life in New York City. When Arcangel began his career in the arts he went to school for classical guitar. His focus first shifted from a love for heavy-metal guitar to classical because he loved the technical challenge it presented for him. This challenge-based mentality followed Arcangel as he shifted again in his creative endeavors and began working as a new media artist because he felt challenged by the ever-changing technologies available in experimental video and music.
Arcangel’s works have been exhibited at esteemed institutions such as the Whitney Museum of New York. Interview Magazine recently covered a story about him speaking with artist Mary Heilmann (another artist whose work can be found in the permanent collection of the MOMA). Heilmann asks Arcangel about his inspiration for the various pieces in the show at the Whitney and his answers reveal that he is an approachable, good-humored, and self-proclaimed space cadet.
Arcangel’s work, Super Mario Movie (2002) is just like the Nintendo game that we know and love, except all the graphics have been taken out of their original context made into a completely different experience. Arcangel’s postmodern deconstruction of this beloved game is typical of his oeuvre. In his other works we see driving games and shooting games without cars or guns. The music is often akin to distorted electronica but really it is just a warping of the original sounds of the game.
Arcangel’s “paintings” (which are one-click of the gradient tool on Photoshop CS5) explore the realm of color field painting that was so popular in the early modern scene. His video works and video game modifications take a similar minimalist approach in that the colors are what express the most rather than relying on a narrative. In Arcangel’s Super Mario Movie the Mario character never reaches the end of the level, because the levels have vanished and turned into more of an experiment with graphic modification, musical alteration and image distortion.
In Super Mario Movie, Arcangel comments on the nature of “the video game.” Is it still considered a game if no one is playing it? Is Arcangel playing this game in a different way by creating this work of art? What do his works imply about our culture’s tendency toward virtual-reality gaming systems.

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