Thursday, June 16, 2011

"and I'm like, now you're talking." (IS THIS ART?)

Another day, another new feature here on The Best Of Everything, where the future hasn't arrived yet but promises to get here as soon as it can.

The newest new feature -- joining classics like "The Best..." and newcomers like MiniBests and SemiDaily Lists and of course POP!Best! and Star Wars References and THIS is a THING!? -- is called


And it's pretty self-explanatory. I will present you something, and ask you: Is this Art?

The first-ever thing that might be art is:

Losers Bowling in Video Games.

The above is actually called "Various Self-playing bowling games (aka beat the champ)" and the concept behind this piece is (according to the New York Times)
a large-scale video work that asserts a virtual storm of light, noise and flashing images via six cheek-to-jowl projections of video bowling games, from the late 1970s to the 2000s, all altered so that the bowlers throw nothing but gutter balls.

The Times does not think this is art:
But Mr. Arcangel’s Whitney solo turn does not quite live up to its advance attention. For one thing, it too seems a trifle scrubbed clean, sanitized and austere. Containing work almost entirely from 2011, it tells us little of his funkier early digital efforts, or artistic development. A few pieces reflect his longstanding interest in television and video games; in others he tries too hard to establish his formalist bona fides wryly with riffs on abstract painting and sculpture.

Cory Arcangel, for his part, seems to have forgotten to talk about this piece in this New York magazine story about ... this piece. Instead, he talks about Old Navy. It seems that Cory Arcangel has a table where he has future art-projects-in-waiting laid out, and one of these ghosts-of-art-projects-yet-to-be is an "Old Navy Techno Hoodie." Take it away, New York Magazine:

The Techno Hoodie is a blue zip-up sweatshirt with headphones wired into the drawstrings; the wearer plugs an iPod into the kangaroo pocket, and jams. Arcangel heard about the sweatshirt through a friend, discovered that Old Navy had discontinued it, and became hell-bent on finding one. (Inevitably, the search ended on eBay.) “I’d known that techno hoodies, with crap for your iPods and phones and stuff, have existed,” he says. “So then somebody tells me that Old Navy has one. And all of a sudden I’m very interested because it’s Old Navy—a store that had a little bit of a moment, but it’s culturally ambiguous right now. So we have an object loaded with two different interests of mine, combined. And I’m like, now we’re talking!”

"Inevitably, the search ended on eBay?" I just googled Old Navy Techno Hoodie and found 147,000 results in 0.24 seconds. Three of the top five results were eBay listings.

Also, I don't know what it means to be culturally ambiguous. But that's because I'm not an artist.

So... take another look at Various Self-playing bowling games (aka beat the champ):

And tell me:
Is it Art?

1 comment:

Rogue Mutt said...

My definition is usually: if I can do it, it ain't art. I think given some time to find a bunch of video games I could figure out how to do something like this.

I remember Ebert had a whole thing about whether video games were "art." He said they weren't, which ignited a firestorm from geeks.

Though in this case, taking something someone else has created, pasting it with a few other somethings, and putting it on a screen doesn't seem very artistic.