|Conversation with Cory Arcangel|
Cory Arcangel is an artist and performer who works with early
computers, the Internet, and video game systems. He is best
known for his Nintendo game cartridge hacks and his reworking
of obsolete computer systems of the 1970s and '80s, such as
the Commodore 64 and Atari 800. The following conversation
between Cory Arcangel and Lori Zippay took place on August
Lori Zippay: I'm interested in the idea that many of your works exist in different versions and formats for specific contexts and audiences. I thought we could look at Super Mario Clouds as a kind of paradigm or case study of this process. The piece has at least three iterations, each of which encapsulates specific issues of context and audience. It's interesting to me that you're dealing with these notions at the point of creation; it's part of the concept of the work.
Cory Arcangel: I can talk about how that piece came to be, and that will explain the different versions. The first version of the piece is an Internet art piece, which most people don't even realize. I'll say, "That's an Internet art piece," and they'll say, "What are you talking about? That's an installation." But the first version of the piece was a Web site  that I made that explains to people how to make it.
I guess a little backtracking might be helpful. Super Mario Clouds is a 1985 Nintendo cartridge for the game Super Mario Brothers, which I have taken apart and reprogrammed to show only the clouds from the game and scroll them across a blue sky. By putting it on my Web site I was saying, Here's what I made, and here's the source code and a little bit of information about how you would go about making it yourself.
So that was actually the first version of the piece. For almost seven or eight months after I made the cartridge, I put it in my drawer. At the time I didn't have much interest in galleries or any exhibition opportunities. This will seem strange, but at the time I'd been making lots of abstract stuff and I noticed that there was little interest. So the Internet was my only opportunity for distribution. I knew that, so I said, Fine, I like the Internet. I knew I had to make something for the Internet and making something for the Internet doesn't mean it has to be "Internet art," it just means anything that would be of interest to an Internet audience, which as the Internet ages becomes more and more and more. It's almost everything.
LZ: At one time the "Internet audience" was rather specialized.
CA: Yeah, it's even changed way more in the last two to three years. Even in the last year; the stuff that gets popular on the Internet is so not specialized anymore. So I knew I had to do something with the Internet, but I'd also been working with the Nintendo stuff, so I thought, basically what I need to do is an idea that is small enough, or meme-able—an idea that would replicate itself, that will be of interest and that will spread itself. And outside the Internet, I knew no one would ever see it. This is even true of the gallery situation; very few people are going to see it. I thought, why don't I start working with ideas that people don't need to see? You don't need to see the "cloud" thing, you just need to know the idea.
So, anyway, I made the Web site. It was a tutorial, and at the time it wasn't even aimed at an art audience, it was aimed at a hacker audience, and a kind of a media nerd audience.
LZ: And did it in fact reach that audience?
CA: Yeah, if you surf on the Internet even now, you'll still find it on little hacker Web sites with all the other home brew stuff: "Here's a small demo of the clouds by Cory Arcangel." It became a part of that world much more quickly than it became part of any other world, which I was actually really proud of. In terms of buzz it was more an online buzz. So I would definitely consider it an Internet artwork because the content of the piece was aimed towards being on the Internet, because I knew it was going to be a Web page. A lot of people don't realize that.
LZ: So the first version was an open source piece that anyone could have access to or download on the Internet. So how did it mutate, as it were, into the
LZ: ok, the fancy version. The one that has the installation elements, and that has been exhibited in the art world.
CA: The one that most people know. I was asked to do a group show at Team Gallery . This is actually an equally interesting story. And I came to them and said this is the Clouds, you basically just plug it into the projector and it plays the clouds. Jose [Friere] at Team Gallery was like, Here's what we should do: This should be a three-channel piece, it should be multiple channels, we should fill the whole gallery room with clouds. And I was like, That's a great idea. I could have really cared less about installation back then. Now, after seeing the effects of a successful installation, I of course have a whole different view of the genre. So it was helpful in that situation to have someone with a lot of experience in installing video art to tell me this is how this should be done. He wasn't telling me, he was asking me, and I was like, This is wonderful. So we did it that way in the group show at Team, and it worked great. And then it became something totally different; it became something that is really important for video art. It was really pristine; it was stunning. It becomes like a chapel.
When I first exhibited the Clouds—you know how they usually have booklets on the front desk?—I exhibited the instructions on how to make it, and all the source code. I thought people would flip through it, but it seemed kind of kicked off to the side. Which was kind of interesting to me, because it was just a printout from my Web site, but it was actually the actual piece—it was the thing I had lived with for over a year. This was it. But then it was thrown off on a bench. I thought that was kind of amusing. It was kind of trial by fire, the whole gallery installation thing. I didn't know anything about it before I did that show but I saw how people reacted to it. I had a bench now, you know? People would sit downthat's when I learned that, wow, this is a whole thing I know nothing about, it's like a pool that I just jumped into, and I had to figure it out pretty quickly.
And that was a whole new version of the piece. Now it's a multi-channel projection that has to be exhibited in a certain way; you have to give me two or more projectors. It was funny; in the [2004 Whitney] Biennial I only had two projectors, because the documentation of the piece only had two projectors in it because we couldn't get the camera angle wide enough for the documentation to show three. So that's why there were only two projectors at the Whitney. It was supposed to be the Team version but somewhere in the mix it got forgotten about. So that was really funny. But that doesn't matter to me. But that's how it became the installation version. It was the same piece, but it has a totally different effect. But the thing that's important about it is that it works within the gallery. Someone who goes to the gallery can identify with it. This was mostly I think because of course that audience would never ever, ever remotely care about my Web site.
LZ: Although I suspect that once people saw the gallery version, they went to your Web site.
CA: Exactly! It kind of works backwards, but it doesn't work forwards. When it became the gallery version, and then the Whitney showed it, a lot of people heard about it, even though they didn't go to the Biennial, and a lot of people ended up going to my Web site.
And a lot of people ended up modifying it. I had one guy take the source code and put it on a Game Boy. So he sent me an image of the clouds on a Game Boy, which I thought was really cool. And another guy took away the clouds; he sent me a movie that was just blue, a QuickTime movie screen capture that was just blue.
LZ: So it continued to mutate and replicate itself, even after the more rarefied version was being exhibited. There could be dozens or even hundreds of "homemade" or modified versions of this project that are circulating.
CA: That was part of the original idea of putting it on the Internet, so that they could just play with it, interact with it, and send it back to me. There's a bootleg of it, but that guy does bootlegs of everybody. There's another guy on the Internet who made it even more pixelated-"Super-pixelated Clouds"  it was called. And he made it even more low resolution, which was really funny. So they would just e-mail it to me, and I would post a link to it. And that is something that could never, ever happen in the gallery.
LZ: It's almost the antithesis of what the gallery system is about. You've spoken about exhibiting the work within a gallery or museum context and how it differs from the Internet context, but there's also the market aspect; that is, selling the work. Was the iteration at Team an edition?
CA: It was an edition of five. It's a cartridge. You get the cartridge with the Nintendo, or you could buy the Nintendo. And that was it.
LZ: How did people who purchase the work feel about these other, modified versions circulating in an entirely different economy? Did they know? Did they care?
CA: I don't know if the people who purchased it even knew or cared. From Team's perspective, they definitely knew and they encouraged it in a way, because they thought it was cool in a way. It really doesn't interfere at all, which is kind of a weird thing. Giving it away on the Internet somehow doesn't affect it at all; it's a different thing. The piece is an idea, so what form it takes—I don't know how to explain it. It is the same thing and it isn't.
LZ: Is it possible to identify the "original" when talking about this work?
CA: Boy, I don't know what the original is. It probably is the source code—if you want to get all theoretical, it's the code that runs it. But then there's also the option of people making their own. People are free to just cobble together their own, which I think is great.
LZ: Your work is really engaged with exploring the "homemade" or "handmade" in relation to this technology. But it also raises questions of "authorship" and "authenticity."
CA: Exactly. If Paul Slocum  in Texas exhibits it, does he have the real thing? I think I draw the line there; it's not one of the five editions. But it's interesting; it's technically the same exact thing, but it's like a bootleg. But it's a weird situation. When Paper Rad and I did the Mario Movie, he [Paul Slocum] was like, Can I exhibit it, because I made one? And I was like, Sure, sure, show it in Texas. It's actually kind of nice, because now I don't have to send it.
LZ: But you're still the "author" of the piece.
CA: Yeah, of course, it's me who made it. He just manufactured the tape. It would be like dubbing the tape; it's the same idea essentially. There aren't so many people in the world that would be willing to dub a Nintendo cartridge. Although it is possible.
LZ: The whole issue of mutability and reproducibility is built into your project. You're obviously completely comfortable with the use of these distributed systems, these circulating, replicating systems. This may be a generational issue, as well. It's either part of your vernacular, or it's not. It's like a second language.
CA: I would never even think of it, to be honest. To me my first impulse is to put something on the Internet. I'm probably of the first generation where that just seems like a natural impulse: of course, put it on my Web site. What else would I do with it? People my age had computers their whole lives, so the idea of the copy, there's no issue: put it on a disc and take it to school. In my teen school days, I remember taking disks of my SIM CITY and music files to school to trade with my friends so I could play on their sites for a while at home, and we would also collaborate on music tracks. This is how I got used to the idea of working with so many people electronically. There's no impasse of what is the original or what isn't. You're so used to asking, "Where is the current version? I thought it was on this hard drive."
When I'm making work, I'm almost most excited about what impact it will have when it gets out on the Internet. Especially now, because the Internet is more like a well-oiled machine, with things like blogs and RSS readers. Information travels a lot quicker to people who see it a lot faster. To put something on the Internet now is sort of fun, because when I put up a project like Pizza Party —I did a hack of the Domino's Web site-the next day thousands of people had downloaded and used it. I got bug reports. All of a sudden it became a thing.
LZ: Let's get back to the Clouds and the different versions for the different contexts.
CA: The first version was the Internet, the second version was the installation for the gallery.
LZ: I find it interesting that you're working with these two radically different paradigms, the Internet and the gallery. One is mutating, replicating and circulating
CA: a free-for-all
LZ: and the other is a limited edition for the gallery, a closed system.
CA: "Cory, you have to come and approve the installation before we open the show."
LZ: But then you're also working within a third system, which is somewhere between the two. The third version was The Making of Super Mario Clouds, a single-channel video that is here at EAI.
CA: The reason I did that was because people kept asking me for something. OK, you can't exhibit a Web page. I think we learned that in the late '90s. It usually doesn't work. Now that I have this grand version, this multiple projection gallery thing, which is quite pristine and rarefied, all these people keep e-mailing me and asking, "We really like this project, we saw it on the Web or heard about it. Can we show something?" And I had nothing. It seems odd to me to say no. Sending a Nintendo is really—you don't know how many people will just plug it in and it will melt. There are so many nightmares of doing that. So I made this single-channel version just to be able to say, "Here." Or if you really want to know how to make it, here's another document that might help you. I had to do it or else I had to tell all these people no.
LZ: This interests me because it relates to what EAI does. We're located somewhere between these two models; we're not about free circulation of artists' works on the Internet, but we're not dealing with limited editions, either. So it's interesting to find an artist who's thinking of making works that move organically within and among these very different, even contradictory contexts or models, all of which coexist at this particular moment.
CA: At the Migros Museum  we exhibited the two versions right next to each other, which was kind of funny. They're in the same room, and if The Making of popped up right next to the Clouds, it would look no different.
The piece that would work similarly but probably even better here [at EAI], which I have to give you, is the Super Mario Movie . That is a perfect example: "We want to screen it," and then, wow, it is such a pain to send a Nintendo game. You probably ruin it or get it dirty, so it just makes perfect sense to have a copy that people can screen on tape. I think of it even more as just a technical thing. Even unions, like at Anthology [Film Archives, New York], I don't think the projectionists who run the equipment can even take a console and plug it in. I've had problems at screenings where it has become a huge issue: "Can't I just plug this in?" "No, we need a tape. It has to be like this." So even technically it's become an issue, you can't show a Nintendo, you have to show it off a tape.
The Super Mario Movie is on my Web site. My friend goes to school in San Francisco, and the day after I put the Mario Movie rom on my Web site, they had this conference hall at the university, at the art school, and all the kids went in and sat down and downloaded the movie. Isn't that fun? He said there were sixty kids there. I was like, Yeah, that's the point. There was another funny example: It was recently screened at DEFCON, the computer hacker convention in Las Vegas. So somebody did this talk about Creative Commons , and he said it went over really well. So there's another venue: computer hacker conventions.
LZ: From the Internet, the New York gallery and the European museum to
CA: DEFCON X in Las Vegas! Giving away the rom and having The Making of at EAI is very similar; it's like anybody can screen it, just take it, whatever. When I make something I have to try to think about where it will go. There are certain works that work really well in certain places and not in others. Certain works work in the gallery and not the Internet, or on the Internet and not in the gallery.
And then there's another context, film festivals, which is a whole other thing. Now the Mario Clouds, of course, doesn't work for film festivals because it's not narrative, that's why it works so well as an installation. This gets into the whole thing of where a piece works best. I have to think about that a lot. Let's take the Super Mario Movie as an example: OK, it works well in a gallery, works pretty well at Deitch Projects, everybody was happy, but also it works just as well on the Internet, because people downloaded it and watched that movie all the time. And it also works in film festivals. Well, that one's a bad example because it works well in all three.
LZ: Or it's a good example because it works well in all three.
CA: I have to find a bad example, one that doesn't work in all these contexts.
LZ: Let's look at the your one-person show at Team , because there were so many different works in that show that had been made for different contexts. For example, there was Dooogle .
CA: Dooogle! Dooogle does not work in the gallery. That's Internet art. Too silly, you know what I mean? So that's an Internet artwork and it's made for the office, really. It's made for you to e-mail to your friends. Somebody should send that to you while you're at the office and you should giggle, and that's the end of the story. Hopefully you send it to your friends. But it wasn't even very popular on the Internet.
So the Internet stuff doesn't really work in the gallery. But it's a whole other thing that I do, similar to the Clouds. It's just made for you to say, Isn't this cool, check this out. I think it's a great new art context. It's amazing how things work on the Internet now. I'm curious to see if it will ever affect the art world or how it will balance out.
LZ: But also at the Team show, there was the projected, minimalist piece with the road and the horizon.
CA: It's called Japanese Driving Game. That is a gallery piece, period. I haven't put it on the Internet yet, but I will. It's not such a Pop-y idea, it's not as Pop-y as the clouds, it's not quite as clever as the clouds, so I'm not sure how that will work on the Internet. I'm going to make posters of it, and that will work well, I think.
LZ: Its references are so art historical in that context.
CA: Exactly. It's like Pop art. Pop art in motion. That's what I should have called it: Pop Art in Motion. As a poster, it immediately becomes recognizable. But that of course won't work in a festival. That piece has serious limitations, it's really an art thing. A lot of my minimal stuff—it's very much Minimalism. Growing up in Buffalo I grew up with all that minimal color-field video and you can see that a lot in my stuff if you look close enough.
I don't know if you saw the installation at the Migros Museum? It was like the huge road and the clouds, this huge landscape thing, and I felt good about it, I felt like I'm learning. Gallery, museum-they're different from the Internet. People have to walk in and they have to stop. They have to be like "ok, wow"-or not "wow," but "ok" at least. It's not like a drawer with lots of stuff in it. Or it can be if that's what you're going for. At the Team show, that's what I was going for. At a certain point we had one too many works to make it a neat show, so we decided to have it be an explosion of everything. That's what we were going for. It ended up being ok. But you could have done it the other way. You could have just put the road and one other thing. I wonder what I'll do for the next show. Maybe it will be even worse, even more stuff.
Also at the Team show was the Beach Boys/Geto Boys  piece, which has become really popular in film festivals. I'm constantly getting, "Will you please send that?" That was made for the Internet, because mash-ups are quite popular. I just made it to put on my Web site. I never thought it would work in the gallery, but it ended up getting the best response in my Team show, which was a complete surprise to me. Also, to have it get so popular in film festivals was a total surprise. "Popular" in this definition means that at least festivals have been asking for it to screen. I don't mean that it's a smash runaway hit or something. I can't quite figure it out beforehand.
LZ: I can see the mash-up appealing in different ways to a gallery audience, a film festival audience, and an Internet audience.
CA: The gallery people were like, It talks about culture and the Internet people were like, Everybody knows the Beach Boys and the Geto Boys, that's so great that somebody put them together. And for the film festival, it's like this experience, you sit down and there's a lot of interesting stuff that happens with the music; if you're sitting down and you're paying attention, for 3 1/2 minutes there's something there for you the whole time. It's funny, in a work like that, there are totally different interests.
LZ: It somehow transcends the specificity of the context or audience while speaking precisely to that specificity.
CA: That was a total surprise. I think that was luck. But that's an interesting example. Oddly enough, I'm most excited when it works on my Web site. I got an e-mail from somebody who saw it at one of my lectures, and they were like, "Please put it on your Web site." It will probably do OK. Video is starting to actually work on the Web, which makes me almost paralyzed with possibilities. So I did put it on my Web site, and then someone took it off, and put it on a different Web site called IFILM for viral videos, recompressed it, and made it available. It seems most people have seen it through that other site as opposed to mine. Funny how that works; the Internet is really a Wild West kind of thing.
LZ: Even though your work is so enmeshed with these lo-fi technologies or systems, I think of you as a conceptual artist and these pieces as conceptual works.
CA: Most of my things are idea-driven; certainly the Clouds is. That's what's important about the piece, you can relate to it on a non-technological level, which is really important for all media art. A painter doesn't have to explain how to paint, but a media artist-nobody understands media, so even if you do all this really cool stuff behind the scenes, you're starting at ground zero. You have to assume people don't know everything. It should never be technology-driven. I go way far out of my way to make sure that it isn't.
I do these performances, so I'm very aware of the public. I take the same view when I make a work. A work is essentially a performance. Well, how will the public respond? I have to think a lot about how the public responds. Because of that I have to make sure that the technology is dealt with in a way that isn't overwhelming. I have a lot of problems with technology art.
LZ: Even when your works aren't overtly performances they are still quite performative.
CA: They all have the same kind of spirit. It's all a performance. You're presenting something and there's public response. I think a lot of my works are a bit loud because of that. They're like, Ok, I get it, quit it already.
LZ: I'm thinking of the Simon & Garfunkel piece at the Team show, which incorporates elements of live performance. Here the idea of "handmade" is quite literal. But this work also has different versions for different contexts.
CA: That's currently my favorite thing that I've ever done. It took me about a minute. Well, it took me months. I have so many tapes of Simon & Garfunkel stuff. I have all these different iterations. I made it because I wanted to do a mash-up of Simon & Garfunkel and Simon & Garfunkel. I bought so many DVDs of Simon & Garfunkel, but the mash-up didn't work, so I just ended up watching them, and then I had a crush on Garfunkel, but it's a big long story. The one in the Team show is Sans Simon. It's basically a recording of a performance I did in my living room. I put the camera in front of the TV and let the original DVD play and every time Paul Simon showed up I put my hand in front of him. It's just really a documentation of a performance. It reads as a narrative video. That has also gotten really popular for film festivals. I prefer to do that piece in performance. I just bring the original Simon & Garfunkel DVD to the festival or to the screening hall and have them play it and I stand in front of the projector. So that isn't even really a video. In that instance, there is no object. It works well in screenings because people don't expect someone to be standing on a chair behind them. And during the three minutes they figure it out.
But that one I also did as an edition. It was kind of an experiment, to see how it would work. I think the last time we spoke I mentioned the "dark side." But then I still send it around to film festivals and to anyone who asks for it. I don't quite know how that works. There doesn't seem to be a conflict between editioning it and screening it all over the place, which I've learned. I don't quite understand.
LZ: There are still questions about how certain works circulate in certain contexts.
CA: Exhibition, previewI know if Team sends out the DVD, you have to send it back. I guess that's how film festivals work, too; you try to be more careful with it. I like that piece because it's nothing, it's like air, there's nothing there, you could do it yourself in 20 seconds. But then there's the other piece that's at EAI and I made it in the same 10-minute span, of just Garfunkel with his hands in his pockets. [All the Parts from Simon and Garfunkel's 1984 Central Park Performance Where Garfunkel Sings With His Hands in His Pockets (2004) ] I watched the DVD so many times that I just got to know it really well.
And I have a whole Simon & Garfunkel lecture I do now. I only bring Simon & Garfunkel DVDs and a laser pointer and that's it. That's one of my new things; that I shouldn't have to make anything. It's fun to show up at a lecture with only the DVD and a laser pointer. There's nothing; it's like going out on a diving board. It's my new thing. Those videos were really performances in a way, so they just turned into a performance.
The Garfunkel one that is at EAI, I said, Why don't I just do that live—so I made a note sheet of all the times he puts his hands in his pockets, and live I'll just fast-forward it to each one, so that turned into a total live performance. I like that because those pieces are all about What is perception, what is video? To me, there's this whole thing about editing. I tend to be really strict with myself. I like it when people can understand everything. In the Sans Simon piece there's no technology, no magic, nothing, not even an edit that people can get stumbled by. It's the same thing with "Garfunkel-Hands-in-Pocket;" I just did it by standing in front of my TV. So that process is, what's the most elegant and simple way to get my point across, which were just these vague cultural points about Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel? I just thought if I do it live that's even better, because then people can see me press fast-forward. There's no magic.
LZ: Typically, a live performance is recorded and becomes a document or an artifact. These go the other way—you have a recorded document that is then transformed into a live performance.
CA: Exactly. I guess that's kind of the point of all of this stuff; I didn't plan any of it, it just seemed natural. Want me to make posters of it? Sure! Sell them off my Web site. Sure, I'll do it in performance if it seems to make the most sense. So that's the story behind those. That whole thing is progressing. That hasn't stopped.
LZ: This use of performance and lo-fi technology brings to mind a very early Nam June Paik piece, Videotape Study No 3. It's rescanned television footage of Marshall McLuhan, gorgeously degraded images, and then just for a moment you see Paik's finger wagging in front of the screen. It's this sudden interjection of live performance into this technology; again, it's the artist's gesture or "hand" made literal.
CA: Paik's magnet piece, the TV with the magnet, is beautiful. I like it for the same reason that I like to do the Simon & Garfunkel live, because there's nothing there but magnet on TV. Everyone can understand that.
LZ: The technology is transparent.
CA: Exactly. That's what I was trying to get with the Simon & Garfunkel stuff. It's always a constant struggle, and those were videos, and video is a whole different thing from computers.
LZ: Perhaps now we should touch on the Clouds in relation to issues of preservation.
CA: Preservation. What a nightmare.
LZ: You've been involved in the Variable Media Project , specifically dealing with issues of emulation.
CA: That is tough. I still can't quite figure out where I am on that whole thing. What to do when a piece doesn't work anymore? Video you can transfer, but with Nintendo stuff it's not necessarily an issue of transferring. Although they just started making Nintendos again, but they're not going to make them forever.
LZ: Again this gets into issues around the "original" work.
CA: The source code is the original but by itself it has no value and emulation is a quite good solution. The rom that I have on my Web site that you can download is already circulated around the Internet for people to run on an emulator. It's not like it's an untrue version or some kind of compromise. It is a valid version of the artwork. I don't feel so bad about people emulating it. The problem with emulation outside of preservation is that people—the public-don't understand emulation. So if a gallery or museum wanted to run an emulated version I would be really standoffish about it, because I think the point of one of those pieces is so people can see the Nintendo—it's similar to the magnet on the TV; it's like, OK, here's where the signal is coming from, and I think when you run it on an emulator you really lose that. So really the emulation right now is for the specialized audience on the Internet who understands that it normally would be a Nintendo. But the gallery or museum audience doesn't understand that. The hope is that in twenty or thirty years audiences will understand emulation, so you could show an emulated version in a museum and it wouldn't be such a big deal.
LZ: I agree that right now I don't know if a general audience necessarily understands the notion of emulation.
CA: No. "Emulate? What?" It's not a new phenomenon, but within pop computer culture it is a new phenomenon. You could still meet someone and you could be like, You can play old Nintendo games on your computer with an emulator and they're like, Oh really? But for instance, I teach kids, and the kids know about it. Eventually it will become a part of the culture. Since I'm so concerned with perception and technology with my work, this is really a big factor for me.
Though for the online audience who gets emulation, I am happy to have them download it and play an emulated version of any work at home because they understand what an emulated file is, and that it is the same as a Nintendo cartridge. This also applies to "single channel" rescan videos of the Nintendo stuff. The reason I put the cloud rescan on a DVD, which also had The Making Of on it was to pound home the idea that the clouds weren't a video. The clouds were a computer program running on a game system. I'm reminded of some of those early video synth tapes, which show the artists working on the synthesizers as well as the rescanned output. So that's where I am with emulation. I don't know if that answers any questions.
LZ: Well, it leaves the questions open-ended. Perhaps we're talking about approaches rather than solutions.
CA: Yeah. Rescan it? I don't know. It's tough. I would rather have an emulated version running, rather than a straight looped rescan. An emulated version is the real version, because it is the source code.
CA: To me it's the same code. It's the same rom.
LZ: Your work really extends these issues of different iterations and contexts into the process of preservation. If anyone's work lends itself to these murky questions of the "original" and "authenticity" in terms of future formats and replication, it would be your work.
CA: Yeah, I can be like, Well, the emulated version is the real version. It's all the real version. I get to decide, I guess. But when they're sold, the gallery is like, There's no guarantee that it will work forever. It is what it is.
LZ: But as it moves from the Internet to the gallery and then into the museum world, there are a whole different set of preservation issues that apply. It's the museum's job to preserve art works.
CA: Yeah. With the Whitney I had to give them all of the source code and all the instructions. But for the short term, in my lifetime, I'm not worried about it. Those things are much more robust than a VCR. You could throw them down the stairs and they still would work. I'm not worried about it for my lifetime, but in a hundred years it's anybody's guess. There are no moving parts, which is what's good about it. The Nintendos I use now are 25 years old and they work fine. You'd be hard pressed to find a VCR that's 25 years old that works. But the short term is not really even part of the debate. The debate is what happens when there are no more Nintendos. But at that point computers are going to be great. Even now you can run all that stuff on the computer, so it's not a big deal.
LZ: Is there anything else that you wanted to add?
CA: I should mention that the Clouds also became a popular desktop and screen saver at some point. I read it on the Internet, like, "Here's instructions on how to take this and make a screen saver." I just surfed on it a while back. I was like, Wow, it probably would look nice on the desktop or whatever.
2. Throwback, June-August 2003, Team Gallery, with Cory Arcangel & Beige, Maria Marshal and Jon Routson.
3. Peter Luining's Web site: http://www.ctrlaltdel.org/splash/spmc.html
4. Paul Slocum is a Dallas-based artist and musician who uses obsolete computers and video game equipment to create videos and live music performances. One of his projects includes Atari 2600 games modified at the code level, with the sound track replaced. http://www.qotile.net/
7. Super Mario Movie is a project of Cory Arcangel and the artist collective Paper Rad. The project was presented at Deitch Projects, New York, in January and February 2005. http://www.deitch.com/projects/sub.php?projId=153
8. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that has developed an alternative copyright, the Creative Commons license, in the context of the Web. Its aim is to address the sharing of information by offering a flexible range of protections for authors and artists. http://creativecommons.org/
12. Cory Arcangel, All the Parts from Simon and Garfunkel's 1984 Central Park Performance Where Garfunkel Sings With His Hands in His Pockets, 2004, 6:33 min, color, sound. http://eai.org/eai/title.htm?id=9778
13. The Variable Media Network is a project led by the Guggenheim Museum with the support of the Daniel Langlois Foundation. Its aim is to develop networks of exchange and cooperation in regard to works in ephemeral media. http://www.variablemedia.net/ Arcangel's work I Shot Andy Warhol was presented in the exhibition Seeing Double: Emulation in Theory and Practice at the Guggenheim Museum from March 19 to May 16, 2004. http://www.variablemedia.net/e/seeingdouble/index.html