|( A talk: )
>How is Buffalo? What are you doing, watching MTV with your sister as usual? Or working, as usual...
Cool, …yes, actually, I am watching TV while typing this interview…
> Could you say something about Buffalo , it certainly must have had a huge effect on what you are doing now. I am also thinking about you and your sister, and your early collaborative projects!
It’s funny cause I was just talking to a friend of mine about growing up in Buffalo. We were laughing cause in New York when you tell someone you grew up in Buffalo, they look at you with this expression of deep pity like you grew up on Mars. But 4 people in Norway who are not familiar with Buffalo, it’s a city in the northern US on the border of Canada. Even in the US most people don’t know anything about it except that it is famous for its oddly severe winter snow storms (its geography makes it such that there are insane snow storms that come out of nowhere), and that it is a classic rust belt city which means it is filled with abandoned factories and whatever. 100 years ago it was one of the wealthiest cities in America, and around the 60’s it lost all of its industry and now it has basically been forgotten. As for my art and stuff, it has had a big influence. First of all there was never ANYTHING to do, so I had to make my own fun, and t!his is how I ended up making videos with my sister when we were young. This I guess it quite common though, but more specifically Buffalo, has this really strange video art culture. In the 70’s all these insane video art people from New York moved there to teach at the University. These people included Stan and Woody Vasulka (amazing early video and video synth stuff), and Tony Conrad (helped kick start the minimal music thing with La Monte Young, and went on to make ground breaking flicker films and video art). So the work of these artists really shaped the artistic identity of the city. I remember watching TV when I was younger and seeing these weirdo minimal color field videos late at night. It is hard to put into words, but by growing up there I never thought it was weird to make a 15 minute slow motion video. No one ever told me this was strange, …I would see such strange stuff on the public TV all the time, that it wasn’t until I moved away that! I learned that these were “art videos”. At the time when I was 12 years old, I just thought there was another MTV. So really my early collaborations with my sister were just normal home videos, but since I was exposed to the work of many 70’s and 80’s video artists really young without ever knowing it, they ended up looking like art video. Ha ha ha ha. Oops!
>Yes, you did not go to art school, you studied music at Oberlin, NY. We dont often see artists who has not graduated from some art school, which I think is actually quite strange, at least when you see where art is situated right now. Why did you get into visual art? And why do you think there is a lack of people "from the outside" doing art? (Lazy curators??). Im also asking because I like your approach to it, your strategy is to be very laid back about it, which could be a following up of you not beeing into the system through art school. You show your work wherever whenever; in Cartier, MOMA, Guggenheim, but also in film screenings, in hacker conventions, and in an exhibition curated by artists in Norway.....
Yeah, well, Visual Art. Hmmmm……Like I mentioned in the above answer, I was of course always making videos since I was younger. My “formal” introduction to visual art though wasn’t until I moved to New York. I know it sounds insane, but I didn’t really know about galleries and curators or whatever. So wandering around on my lunch break one day I walked into a contemporary art gallery….I pretty much was like “I can do this, why don’t I see if one of these places would show MY VIDEOS”. Yeah, so I spent the next few years figuring that stuff out. But, at the same time as this, I also learned about film festivals, hacker festivals, and of course was getting more and more interested in using the internet for distribution. So I think cause I didn’t go to art school, galleries never seemed any different then any other outlet for work. They are all cool for different things. I am not sure why there !aren’t more outsiders in the arts. Probably cause there are too many art school insiders out there for an outsider to have much of a chance edge wise! Plus since so many kids went to art school the art that galleries show has a kinda art school look.
>When I stayed with you in New York for the last months, Im impressed about how much you are doing all the time; not only your own ideas and projects, but also collaborations; you are doing concerts with Paper rad, Cribbs with Lauren (Cornell), teaching kids about computers, fashion project with Aya, doing collaborations with Seth (Price)... seems also like people are very interested in doing projects with you... and that you yourself like to be involved in and have the possibility to work on a lot at the same time, so that you can switch from one to the other....
Yeah, I am a classic multi-tasker. When I was younger, I used to do my homework while watching TV. Now when I watch TV, I surf the web. It never ends. I just like to be busy. Maybe its obsessive compulsive disorder. I don’t know. But yeah, maybe I should explain some of the projects I am working on that you have described. I recently did a show at the Albright Knox Gallery with Paper Rad. It was a one night performance that featured our bands, and various performances. Basically when we perform each time we do something different. This time, I decided I would build a website during the show, about the company that Paper Rad and I have thought about starting called “American Multimedia Group”. We will be a company specializing in interactive CR-ROM’s. Cribbs is a project I am doing with my friend Lauren Cornell where we go around and film our friends in the places where they live. It is based on the MTV show, but instead of rapp!ers in million dollar homes, it is our artist friends in New York. I also teach kids how to modify games at Harvestworks Digital Media as part of a summer camp there. Also I am working on a fashion website with my friend Aya Kanai who is a stylist. Basically it will be a fashion blog with new clothes to buy updated every day. Hopefully it will be successful! I am at the same time working on my art stuff too. So yeah, I can get pretty busy if I want to.
>So,: tell people about your work! You are that nintendo guy, you even look like Mario, or really more Luigi, but you did not even like playing Super Mario Brothers. How did you come up with the idea? Or maybe we willl do it like this: how do you normally work ; like; your "how little can one do to come up with an idea and then producing a work". What your critics have called your one-liners...
Ok, well, usually I will have 1 million ideas floating around in my head. It is all a constant scrambling of ideas about process and ideas about culture until I find something that fits together. I will use my Super Mario Clouds project as an example. This is a project where I hacked the game Mario brothers to show only the clouds. So at the time I knew I wanted to hack a video game but use the original graphics somehow to create the artwork. This is cause in terms of hacking this was a pretty interesting technical hack. So I knew I wanted to do this. The other thing I wanted to do was come up with a “meme” ish idea. This means I knew I wanted the work to be an idea that was small and cute enough that people could hear about the project by word of mouth and never even have 2 see the work. So yeah, I just kept on thinking of ideas, sifting through ideas about culture and video games, until I thought of one that fit these 2 requirements. I knew I !had to use Mario brothers cause it was the most famous video game. Then the clouds just seemed obvious. Like “why hadn’t anyone done this before”???? It sounds boring actually, but yeah, I usually know what I want to do technically and process wise before I ever think of the idea or the culture end of the work. As for my inspiration in terms of culture and whatever, I don’t know. This I cant explain. How do I know that clouds are cool? Or in more recent work, the Beach Boys, gooogle, Simon and Garfunkel? I have no idea. It just is like a second language.
>What other ideas are you working on at the moment?
Besides what I mentioned above, I am working on a series of War Game modifications which are basically going to be landscape video installations featuring clouds and old war planes. Also, I am getting into maybe composing music again, but I think talking about that might jinx it! Ha ha ha. Also “Magic Eye” stuff which is those posters you can stare at and then a 3d image pops out.
>You are a computer maniac, but also a charming entertainer. This is supposed to be quite a contradicition. You seem to feel comfortable in every situation.When did you start doing the performances? Is it a natural follow- up on your music performing background? Your performances are also kind of messy; you have a concert and then you stop and tell about how you made the Nintendo Cartridges, like you told you did in the Albright Knox gallery performance in Buffalo. And you invite friends with you to do stuff. Is there ever a plan?
I started doing those performances cause when I started in New York, I couldn’t get any gallery shows. But I did discover it was easy to get asked to perform. So I decided it would be fun to show my work as a performance. This way people could see the work, and also I could show people how the work was made which is one of my main interests. I guess it could be seen as a follow up to my music performance career. I never even thought of it like that. But some performances I do have plans, and others don’t. Performing is my favorite thing to do. Now I tend to develop work with performance in mind.
>You have a huge interest in learning; you always give away the codes to your work, and you make whole instructions for ex. how to hack the nintendo cartridges. In addition, you teach kids about computers; how to make computer games and internet sites. As I understand, the giving away as well as access is important parts of your work. ..
Yes, it is true. Giving away the knowledge of how to create my work is very important. I love computers, and I really love teaching people about them. This is why I am obsessed with making tutorials all the time. Also, I mean, half of the time I am trying to make something. I am surfing the web too; all these home made “tutorial” help pages, therefore considering I spend so much time on these pages learning how to program, I would feel silly not returning the favor. Also, my projects are equally as valid in this world as they are in the art world. For example my Super Mario Clouds gets just as much interest from internet geeks, as art people. My “pizza party’ project (a hack of the dominos website) has no interest online for art people, but is always being linked to from hacker websites.
>Does the teaching have any effect? I know that you get a crazy amount of emails every day; what do people write you?
Oh yes, people email me ALL THE TIME. They ask me questions on how to install my software, or why it doesn’t work, or how to play it. It is funny cause I am basically a teacher / technical help person. Other times they will just ask me for the work. Which is funny. Working with computers is different from sculpting. People don’t go knocking on sculptor’s studios asking for work, but in computer culture this is normal. Ha ha ha…
>I would like to talk about the internet, as we are both obsessed with it. When people have asked you lately about which of your own art projects is your favorite, your answer has been your page of links, which is available for everyone online at your web site. Is this because it is distributed on the internet and is easy to access; and that you want people to see the importance of the internet and computers as media? Or just that it actually is an interesting exhibition of links? ;)
Good question. I think because it is actually an interesting exhibition of links. Also I see it as a good barometer of my interest in culture and technology. The things I link to are things who’s aesthetic I am interested in, and which will prolly be an influence to me. Much of my more well known work is really an example of curating. For example my Super Mario Clouds is really me just curating the clouds out of the game. Or my Simon and Garfunkel video where I am simply reducing the duo down to one performer. So I think of these links in a similar way. I am surfing the internet for hours a day, and these links are 2 or 3 out of the 100’s I see every day that I think are worthwhile.
>We have discussed classical music, and how it is not used in any interesting way anymore. Composers of today are maybe missing the "reaching out"- part of it. Or, if you go on to the internet, it actually exists interesting projects, but it is outside of the classical music scene, and also outside the art scene. Here I am thinking about the Prelude in 303 Major by Ceephax Acid Crew , and I also found this guy doing a "digital needle" project with Vivaldis Four Seasons. In my opinion, internet is a more interesting gallery than any art gallery, which is also one of the reasons why we made the project Kick Out the Internet Jams, which consists of curated links, and the whole thing is offcourse made exclusively out of and for the internet. .......
Yes, I agree. I am really obsessed with the internet. Daily, I see work on the internet which is mind blowing, but I rarely see anything in the galleries that I find of any interest. The Gallery world only talks to itself much of the time, and this is unfortunate.
>Could you agree upon that there is a lack of humour in the art world?
Yes, it is unfortunate. I don’t understand why everything always has to be so serious. The internet is the opposite. Most of the stuff that gets popular has a sense of humor. For me it is hard working between the two cause often I forget there is a difference between the gallery and the net and this gets met in trouble cause some work belongs on the net and other work belongs in the gallery…
>Back to your projects: I would like you to tell about some of the projects that do not get that much attention, at least not at this moment: Im thinking about the video Dollars, your and your sisters band Jamie Arcangel and the Arcangels, and also your collaboration Low Level All-stars with Alex Galloway of the Radical Software Group.
Oh yeah, well, Dollars was a music video made for a band I’m in called the 8bit Construction Set, … the video went straight to the net, and is lesser known cause it was basically a music video done on blue screen for a DJ battle record. So at the time, and even today there really is no outlet for a video like that except the internet. And the band only made one record. My sister and I also have a band, but I think we are lesser known cause we gave up playing a year ago. This was a weird story cause we gave up playing cause I had this fantasy we would dress all in black and white and play in front of a green screen with black and white patterns. Anyway, this idea ended up morphing into “The Infinite Fill Show” which was an art show Jamie and I curated where anyone could be in the show as long as they submitted something that was black and white and had patterns. So in the end we had 93 different artist in a group show and the walls were cov!ered from floor to ceiling with black and white patterns. This show was exhibited at Foxy Production Gallery like a year ago in New York. And Low Level All Stars was a DVD I made with Alex Galloway. It was a research project about early Commodore 64 hacker tags. What would happen is that these kids would crack commodore 64 games (crack means remove the copyright protection), and to show off their skills they would add these really elaborate video introductions to these games. So 4 this project Alex and I looked through 1000’s of these videos and picked the best 10. So it was kinda a research project. The goal was to show people that there was this kinda odd parallel to street graffiti that happened in the 80’s on computers.
>Could you tell a bit more about Beige and the project there, The 8bit Construction Set.. and relating to that: your friends in Bodenstandig 2000 which you invited for your Deitch Projects event this year. Its interesting, because you are a band, but you live in different countries.......and Bodenstandig 2000, you discovered them through the internet, right?
Yeah, Beige is a crew I have been in and helped start in the late 90’s. We are a “hacker” crew. We all live in different cities. Our biggest project was the 8bit Construction Set, which was a DJ battle record where we made one of the sides on the Commodore64, and the other side on the Atari. We sold a few 1000 and they still sell. It has become quite a well known battle record. This record was released on Beige Records. Beige started as a record label. Anyway, the 8bit Construction Set is considered chip music. Which is music made with old computers. We were doing this quite early, and we heard about Bodenstandig 2000 over the net because they were the only other people doing that kinda music at the time (1998-9). So yeah, we became good friends!!! And this year I curated this event called “Low Level All Stars” at Deitch Projects gallery where I invited Bodenstandig2000 and Treewave to perform.
>What was the Summer of HTML tour about? I really liked the part where you got the used material from the Matthew Barney exhibition in Guggenheim to make the big wooden HTML letters...and you brought them with you on the tour! You often go touring, fex with Paper rad...
In the Summer of 2003, Paper Rad and I went on tour across the States on this tour called “The Summer of HTML”. Paper Rad is 3-4 people and they have a few bands. Including Extreme Animals, Dr Doo, and Troll band. So we went on tour across the States, and I taught people how to code HTML as my performance. Paper Rad tours every summer, and if I have the time I go with them!!
>You have been traveling a lot this summer. How was Paris (loved it, .loved it!!!... ;) )?
Yes, in Paris I performed at the Cartier Foundation. It sucked cause they lost my luggage, but my performance went Great!!! Everyone warned me that my stuff would bomb there cause people don’t like English. And of course my performance was mostly English. My new performance is a 45 minute lecture about Simon and Garfunkel. I just bring DVD’s and a laser pointer and talk about my experience with them. It is hard to explain without seeing it, but it is quite entertaining. It is a follow up on my current obsession with the idea of not actually modifying source material. Like , as a hacker, usually I am breaking into systems and changing little things. So I was like, why cant I do the same for DVDs. Then I was like, why do I even have to change anything? Why cant I just go to a performance with a DVD and talk about it? Anyway, people in Paris didn’t mind the English, and understood my humor, so it was awesome.
>You have said before that most of your inspiration is found in music, but you also use celebrities in your work. I know that you are very interested in them. While I was in New York, you found at least one new idea while reading InTouch and Star Magazine....
Yeah, it is better expressed by the idea that I am a pop artist and all pop culture to me is fair game! I love it all. I don’t have a TV now, cause if I did I would watch it all the TIME!!!
>I know that you dont have a TV, but you watch films and television series on DVDs, so is there anything you want to recommend for inspiration or relaxation? Also, I want to put this quote by you which I really like, for the end of the interview: " I would love to say there was some contemporary artist who's work really got me thinking, but lately I have just been trying to sort out 20 years of garbage TV culture that is filling my brain."
Good question! I watch The Sopranos, Arrested Development, The Chappelle Show, The Office, Entourage (just got into this), any mobster film, but sorry to be a weirdo, but if I want to be truthful to relax, I surf the internet. I don’t really watch so much TV anymore. Ha ha ha ha ha…..
>I totally can relate to that. Thank you, Cory!!
Corys webpage: http://www.beigerecords.com/cory/
Beige Records: http://www.beigerecords.com
Kick out the internet jams: http://del.icio.us/kick_out_the_internet_jams
Paper rad : http://www.paperrad.org/
Paper rad Animalz Tour summer of 2005: http://www.paperrad.org/extreme/2005.html
Low Level All Stars: http://rhizome.org/LLAS/
Star Magazine: http://www.starmagazine.com/
Bodenstandig 2000: http://www.bodenstaendig.de/2000/
The summer of HTML tour pics: http://www.twhid.com/photos/summer_of_html/index.html
Arrested Development: http://www.fox.com/arresteddev/
Team Gallery: http://www.teamgal.com/arcangel/