A few years ago Cory Arcangel was an unknown Brooklyn computer expert and musician who composed songs using sounds from video games. One day he came up with the idea of creating an artwork by hacking into Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. and stripping out everything from the image except the winsome little clouds that float above the bouncing man.
"I knew it would translate to the art world," Arcangel explains. "It's the kind of thing people would talk about before they even saw it." The result, Super Mario Clouds, was selected for inclusion in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Since then, Arcangel's art career has taken off. He now shows with powerhouse dealer Thaddeus Ropac in Paris and Salzburg, Austria, as well as with Team Gallery in New York, where he has a solo exhibition coming up in September.
"This generation grew up in the age of video, so such games are very much a first language for them," says Patricia Hughes of the Pace Wildenstein gallery in Manhattan, which mounted a survey of this subgenre in December. "The show garnered the enthusiasm of some of our most prominent collectors."
"In the future, games will be like movies in today's art," Arcangel predicts. "A whole group of people will be playing with them as raw material and creating art by adapting, hacking, and reediting."