Critics’ Picks

Cory Arcangel, /roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD, 2017–21, custom-built high-performance-computer rig (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor central-processing unit, Rog Crosshair Viii Dark Hero motherboard, G.SKILL 64GB [2 x 32GB] Trident Z Neo Series DDR4 PC4-21300 2666 MHz 288-Pin Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C18D-64GTZN random-access memory, [x2] EVGA 24G-P5-3975-KR GeForce RTX 3090 XC3 Ultra Gaming graphics-processing units and Corsair Professional Series AX 1200 Watt Digital ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Platinum [AX1200i] power supply, various peripherals), custom-built Deep-Q Learning RPG playing software bot with system sounds by Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Kim Kardashian: Hollywood casual free-to-play role-playing Android game, Android phone, amplifier, speakers, and various cables, dimensions variable.

Cory Arcangel, /roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD, 2017–21, custom-built high-performance-computer rig (AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor central-processing unit, Rog Crosshair Viii Dark Hero motherboard, G.SKILL 64GB [2 x 32GB] Trident Z Neo Series DDR4 PC4-21300 2666 MHz 288-Pin Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C18D-64GTZN random-access memory, [x2] EVGA 24G-P5-3975-KR GeForce RTX 3090 XC3 Ultra Gaming graphics-processing units and Corsair Professional Series AX 1200 Watt Digital ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Platinum [AX1200i] power supply, various peripherals), custom-built Deep-Q Learning RPG playing software bot with system sounds by Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Kim Kardashian: Hollywood casual free-to-play role-playing Android game, Android phone, amplifier, speakers, and various cables, dimensions variable.

New York

Cory Arcangel

Greene Naftali Gallery
508 West 26th Street Ground Floor
March 5–April 17, 2021

Stand in front of Cory Arcangel’s giant video wall long enough and you’ll get spammed with an array of offers: “Seven day free VIP trial,” the opportunity to “turn up your jam,” invitations to connect with a virtual “celebrity psychologist,” online-sofa-sale coupons. You’ll even get to go to the executive lounge at LAX with a skinny-jeaned Brat Pitt wannabe forever styling his hair. But all of this is filtered through a complex machine clunkily reading the screen area. After all, Arcangel’s work /roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD, 2017–21, is actually a live feed of a custom computer navigating the game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Being in the gallery with this piece feels a little bit like being shuffled through some Dante-esque tech smorgasbord—part Twitch live-feed, part coked-up digital slot machine, part convulsing camera eye desperately seeking legible space. A similar anxiety drives Arcangel’s other works here. For the “Flatware” series, 2016–, he mounts scanned images of sweatpants onto IKEA tabletops. Is it the presence of an actual body one senses in these works, or something like a 3-D-printed phantom doppelgänger?

I went twice to experience Arcangel’s new show. The first time, I felt like I’d won—Oneohtrix Point Never’s custom-designed soundscape was at its peak, and everything was beeping and bouncing with a hint of Daft Punk. The second time I saw the exhibition, I felt like I’d lost, as I kept seeing a reticle reposition itself again and again inside Kardashian’s version of LA, cycling through all the same levels ad nauseum. It seemed like Harun Farocki at the editing table trapped inside the crumbling Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the slots forever ringing out halfheartedly. Hacks, glitches, obsolete technologies, tech culture, computer jocks, comments threads, aged game graphics, the American leisure economy—all of this collides in Arcangel’s work, whispering, Have more fun . . . have more dread . . .