Miss Amber May

Digital Approaches to Fine Art

Cory Archangel

October 20th, 2013


When we play video games, we rarely stop to pay attention to the actual art of the game. Cory Arcangel decided to put an end to this conception by spotlighting the beauty in technology and making us reconsider their values. Arcangel strives to combine technology with modern art by making the kinesthetic more aesthetic. He is best known for his video game modification art, which he creates by tweaking the programming mechanics in old NES cartridges to make them act a certain way. His most popular work called “Super Mario Clouds” is basically Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers modified to where all of the sprites and backgrounds have been removed, leaving only the sky and scrolling clouds. Cory Arcangel is not only limited to art through video game modifications, he also designs works with other forms of media like video streaming, Photoshop, music, sculpture, and composition. In his sculpture entitled “Modified Dancing Stands”, located at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, he introduces two wire stands modified to to sway together at slightly different speeds, causing them to go in and out of sync. Another piece entitled “Dances for the Electronic Piano” is not only a musical composition piece written for a Korg M1 electric piano, which is “famous for its use in classic Rave/Trance piano breakdowns,” but it is also visually appealing, portraying an image of two individuals seemingly dancing together. With every form of media Arcangel uses, he takes into account what the media was originally intended for and uses this as an advantage to get his themes across. Litterally, the medium is the message.

I think art is less about the final outcome of the work and more about how it’s made. Arcangel’s works may seem completely plain, but I believe the amount of work that was put into them really determines how the outcome should be perceived. In the case of Super Mario Clouds, I think the focus wasn’t the piece itself, but the mass amount of debate going on as a response. I do, however, disagree with the fact that he calls it “his” art when the clouds and coding itself was already designed by a background artist for the game. So even though Arcangel may have physically opened up the cartridge and manipulated some things, the initial appearance was still created by someone else. You cant just put a sticker over it and call it yours.

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