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Cory Arcangel: BACK OFF

Exhibitions: FREE

(No booking required)

Cory Arcangel: BACK OFF


Saturday 4 May - Sunday 7 July 2019


Thoughts on violence, aggression, and surveillance; as seen through retro gaming, military technology and fashion. A survey featuring drawing, photography, lorry lights, a laser, a drum machine, and a baby monitor, as well as a new series of prints on Ikea table tops made specifically for Firstsite.

Cory Arcangel is an American artist inspired by the short term memory of western culture. He uses conventions of popular culture, be they video games, web browsers, iconic musicians, or textiles, to question the pervasiveness and longevity of consumer technologies, and fashion.

This survey of his work, BACK OFF, draws upon Colchester’s identity as a garrison town and explores how technologies originally developed for the military, like lasers and the Internet, have been accumulated into mainstream culture. In many cases Arcangel reconfigures these technologies to subvert or question their original uses. For example, in MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds (2005) two Nintendo game cartridges have been hacked—rendering the game unplayable.


The exhibition is complemented by an online artwork, Bomb Iraq (2005)

Bomb Iraq (2005) is an online restoration of a readymade artwork based on a Macintosh TV Arcangel bought from the Salvation Army in 2005. Amidst an array of personal files preserved on the Macintosh TV, Arcangel found a home-made game called Bomb Iraq, which was created with the multimedia authoring and programming software HyperCard. Presumably designed by one of the computer’s former owners, who seemed to have been a teenage boy, it offered a simplistic game-like experience, allowing users to flip through a virtual deck of cards depicting a hand-drawn missile hitting a clipart outline of Iraq. Originally showing the game as a found object, the work – along with the full contents of the Macintosh TV’s hard disk, with the users’ personal information removed – was restored and made accessible online by Dragan Espenschied for Rhizome in 2014.

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