March 26th, 2021

Each week, Artful spotlights an art experience or destination that speaks to us right now.

Early in his career, Cory Arcangel tweaked the code in video-game cartridges to create clever works such as Super Mario Clouds (2002), in which he removed every element of the game except the blue sky and drifting clouds of the background. In his new show at Greene Naftali, and a related interactive website, he makes similarly sly interventions in social media platforms (and a newer video game) with the help of AI, or Artificial Intelligence.

Most of the works highlight the commercial and dystopian potential of AI, especially as it intersects with big social media platforms and the companies and influencers that populate them. In one work, two bots play chess with each other by noting their moves in the comment sections of public Instagram accounts. In another, Arcangel programs a different bot to attach itself to various corporate social media accounts and “like” every single post (this piece may mimic real social marketing manipulations a little too closely, or maybe even evoke more nefarious political machinations involving armies of bots). And in a more ambitious work, he creates a custom computer to act as an unpredictable player in “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” the influencer’s video game about aggressive fame-seeking.

The gallery presentation and its online viewing room include works on paper exploring clickbait, virality, and provocation in the digital realm; in one of these series bits of introductory text that appear in many Twitter posts are printed on air-sickness bags collected from the artist’s travels (he splits his time between Brooklyn and Stavanger, Norway.) Many of the AI works, however, can be accessed via a website Arcangel has created for the exhibition.

Cory Arcangel, Installation view, Century 21, Greene Naftali, New York, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New YorkCory Arcangel, 𝓌𝑒 𝒹𝑒𝓁𝒾𝓋𝑒𝓇 / 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓀𝒾𝓃𝑔 c𝒽𝑒𝒸𝓀𝑒𝒹 𝒷𝓎 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓆𝓊𝑒𝑒𝓃, 2020. Dual-channel screen recording of a live bot performance on Instagram, February 26, 2020 Dimensions variable. Edition of 1, +1AP. Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New YorkCory Arcangel
I don't know who needs to know this, 2020. Hewlett Packard home office Laserjet on found Scandinavian Airlines vomit bag. Paper: 10 x 5 inches (25.4 x 12.7 cm) Frame: 13 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 1 3/8 inches (33.7 x 21 x 3.5 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New YorkCory Arcangel, elleusa, equinor, equinox, etrade_financial, 2020. 4-channel video recordings of a live bot performance on Twitter, November 30, 2020. Dimensions variable. Edition of 3, +2APs. Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

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