Cory Arcangel: The Machinist

P H I L L I P S
Feb 12, 2013 8:08PM

Expression, nostalgia, and humor underpin the oeuvre of American digital and new media artist Cory Arcangel. This work, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches. 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Blue, Red, Yellow”, mousedown y=7600 x=8600, mouseup y=7850 x=8600, 2011, from his Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations series, embodies all three. 

"Technically it’s a photograph. It’s a photograph because it’s photographic paper. But obviously I think about them as paintings, because they refer to the history of painting. I also have to think about them as sculptures, because every part of the process is part of the project. They’re sculptures because they play on the idea of what should be hanging in a gallery. In that sense they’re also kind of readymades." (Interview with Mary Heilmann, 'Art: Cory Arcangel', Interview Magazine).

Referring not only to Duchampian readymades, Arcangel’s series Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations refers to abstract expressionist color-fi‚elds with carefully articulated bands of computer generated color. While art history has informed the visual narrative, the continual obsolescence and regeneration of technology thematically informs Arcangel’s work. The tension in Photoshop CS... arises from this theme of time and nostalgia: "When you implant technological time with art time, people don’t know what is nostalgic and what isn’t." ('Do it 2: Dara Birnbaum and Cory Arcangel', ArtForum, March 2009).

Arcangel’s sense of humor is articulated in the title, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches. 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Blue, Red, Yellow”, mousedown y=7600 x=8600, mouseup y=7850 x=8600, 2011, as it describes the Photoshop specifications and mouse click positions required to recreate the image on any computer. With tuned irony, each piece in the Photoshop Gradient Series is created as a unique edition, repudiating the inherent infinite nature of digital ‚files and printing technology.

Photoshop CS... will be offered in our Contemporary Art Day Sale, 15 February 2013, in London.

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