Our Terms Have Changed ⁠— online talk by Cory Arcangel

Page Not Found and the Master Experimental Publishing (XPUB) at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy, join forces again with artist Lídia Pereira to publish a Special Issue on how games pervade contemporary culture. To sustain this publishing project, we are happy to invite you to a series of online lectures investigating play, productivity and leisure.

As the third speaker in the series, artist Cory Arcangel will present “Our Terms Have Changed”, a talk on the subject of leisure, gaming, software hacking, digital and open source culture. Over the last two decades, Arcangel has sought the potential and failures of old and new technologies highlighting their obsolescence, humour and, at times, eerie influence in our lives.

Throughout the artist lecture, Arcangel will share his insights on the making and displaying of seminal work such as “Super Mario Clouds” (2002), “Pizza Party” (2004), “Various Self Playing Bowling Games” (2011) and “/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD” (2021); as well as delving into the gaming influence in music through his work as a composer.

Cory Arcangel (b. 1978, Buffalo, NY) is an artist, composer, and curator based in Stavanger, Norway. Arcangel explores, encodes, and hacks the structural language of video games, software, and machine-learning. In 2014, he established the merchandise and publishing imprint Arcangel Surfware, which opened its flagship store in Stavanger, Norway, in 2018. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions internationally such as Migros Museum, Zurich; Whitney Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; CC Foundation, Shanghai; and at the Kunstverein Hamburg in October 2022.

Under the guidance of Lídia and the XPUB staff, this semester the master students will explore how video games are making us more, not less, productive. Getting Likes and Super Likes, choosing your avatar, unlocking badges and achievements, are but a few examples of the language of games as it is repurposed in data-extractivist software. Life and work are ‘gamified’ through social media, dating apps, and fitness apps designed to increase motivation and productivity. Gamification blurs the lines between play, leisure and labour, to release our collective dopamine for profit. Video games in themselves often perform a reproductive role, presenting capitalism as a system of natural laws, exemplified by in-game predatory monetisation schemes. On the other hand, games provide necessary down time and relaxation, helping people function in a largely dysfunctional economy and society. Yet leisure remains a contested space which is still unequally distributed, between genders, ethnicities and abilities.

Starts at 15:00.

Reserve your free ticket here.

A link to the online talk will be sent to you by e-mail after registration.

Image caption: “/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD 2021-06-09T20:22:00+02:00 10870”, 2021. Single-channel video of “/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD” recorded on June 9, 2021. System sounds by Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never). Copyright Cory Arcangel. Installation view of “Century 21”, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York, USA, March, 2021 – April, 2021) Photo: Zeshan Ahmed.