May 26: Cory Arcangel

Musician, artist, and digital fiend Cory Arcangel takes bowling to a new, technological level in his exhibit, "Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools" at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Nothing gets old faster than technology. If its rapid obsolescence is a costly nuisance for those of us racing after the latest iPhone, it comes with nothing but benefits for 33-year-old artist and electronic musician Cory Arcangel. This geek for all seasons finds his material in the digital junk pile. Take the self-playing—and self-pitying—computer bowling games at the center of “Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools,” an exhibition of the sometime hacker’s latest video manipulations at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art (May 26 to September 11). The multichannel bowling installation emphasizes technology’s dead-end faddishness by moving from the game’s 1978 Atari version to the present. While each generation improves on the last, all score only hapless gutter balls. “It’s 30 years of being let down—30 years of failed effort,” says Arcangel. His work often links historical peaks in music and art with advances in digital systems. But living in the virtual world can have troubling consequences: “You get swallowed up in a black hole.” For all its pathos and virtuosity, Arcangel’s art has a certain dry humor. His re-creation of Paganini’s “Caprice No. 5,” also in the show, uses notes from amateur metal-guitar videos on YouTube. “I went to a lot of trouble to do something clumsy and knock-kneed with all this amazing technology,” he explains. “But I’m an artist, so my ideas tend to be impractical.”

Courtesy of Cory Arcangel and The Whitney Museum of American Art