Art critic of “Century 21” from Cory Arcangel to Greene Naftali

Cory Arcangel / roʊˈdeɪoʊ / Let’s play: HOLLYWOOD to Greene Naftali.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Money and fame, by whatever means, has always been Kim Kardashian West’s goal. Over time, his brand sense and accumulated wealth have earned him the respect of at least some of the “good” people; it now regularly adorns the pages of magazines such as Forbes and Vogue as an entrepreneur, criminal justice reformer, and billionaire-shaped clothing designer, rather than a reality star seeking chronic attention. But Kim can never really get past some of the companies that brought her there. Before having her own brand, Skims, she puzzled for Charmin (the toilet paper), Skechers Shape-Ups (including one Super Bowl Square) and Carl’s Jr. salads (“While the best things in life are a mess, it’s fun to get cleaned up“). Among his iconic mid-career companies: smartphone gaming Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Released in 2014, the goal of the game is for players to earn as much money and fame as possible. In real life, the game actually made Kim a solid part of the change. She once claims cashed a check for $ 80 million Kim Kardashian: Hollywood alone, however Forbes estimated that figure was probably closer to $ 20 million. (Lindsey Weber, writing for Vulture in 2014, called the game “better than it’s allowed to be.”)

Now, almost seven years and tens of millions of residual checks later, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood receives the treatment of the white cube: it is the main material of the show of the artist Cory Arcangel “21st centuryon view at Chelsea’s Greene Naftali gallery until April 17. And in a way, that’s exactly how the game was always meant to be played.

Arcangel is known for its technological interventions that nod to the absurdity of the digital age. The 42-year-old artist, who is now based between Brooklyn and Norway, made his breakthrough with his 2002 “game modification”, A series of works for which he pirated classic Nintendo games like Super mario brothers and Hogan’s alley to create something entirely new. In the case of Super Mario, he removed all the elements except the scrolling clouds; with his Hogan’s alley “mod”, he replaced the gangster characters with Andy Warhol. In 2011, Arcangel became one of the youngest artists to ever have a solo show at the Whitney Museum. “Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools”Also presented a major work of video games, Various stand-alone bowling games (aka Beat the Champ). For the play, he hacked bowling video games to create an endless loop of gutter balls. He told the Brooklyn train when the work’s working title was The failure of western civilization, and that its purpose was to create a “humiliating and mind-numbing experience” that was both funny and awkward.

A decade later, Arcangel’s more recent algorithm-focused work appears to be the natural successor to his other video game interventions. Arcangel’s Greene Naftali show includes his installation / roʊˈdeɪoʊ / Let’s play: HOLLYWOOD, which allows us to see a bot attempting to play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Unlike his earlier work, the code for the game itself has not been altered. As Arcangel himself said, he is “no longer the author of the story … In this sense, it’s like having an animal in a work or a performance in a gallery”.

The artwork takes up most of the first room you enter the gallery in: an 8-by-16-and-a-half-foot monitor shows the flow of a running computer as the bot’s website explains, a “Deep-Q Super Machine Learning Computer System”. (It has a robust processor and other gear popular with die-hard gamers that a gallery assistant described as “flexible Twitch”; this is almost certainly the first time this gear has been used for gaming. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.) The area where the computer is located is staged as a workspace, with what appears to be a commemorative mouse pad with a still image of Various stand-alone bowling games. Whenever the machine learning bot, which Arcangel named / roʊˈdeɪoʊ / (pronounced like the “Rodeo” in “Rodeo Drive”) recognizes an image on the screen, it decides to click or make a game movement. The crosshairs represent the “mouse”; a “clicking” sound that sounds a bit like a guitar strumming comes from a nearby speaker. (The sounds were designed by Daniel Lopatin, who performs under the name Oneohtrix Point Never.)

The bot gameplay in the gallery.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

I had a bad day for the poor bot: his in-game avatar, a blond guy with a goatee, was shown stranded at a bus stop in downtown LA (the game lets you design your own avatar; one looks a bit like Arcangel.) You need money to use transport in the game, while another currency called stars can be used to buy apartments, furniture, pets, and favors with other people – it’s Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood, after all. The bot only had $ 2 to its name when I entered and $ 3 when I left over an hour later. Anytime the bot tried to click on any of the requested in-game moves – like getting on the bus, adopting a stray cat named Charli, or taking on your character’s nemesis, Dirk Diamonds, at “Mirimount Pictures” – a pop-up window informed the player that they did not have enough money. Often times, the bot would be asked to watch a free advertisement to earn stars. And when the bot watches an ad, you, the gallery visitor, are also watching an ad for everything from Rock & Roll Denim to Walden University.

After watching this loop for a while, I was ready to scream – ready to grab the computer mouse and take over. There’s a reason the pedestal of the computer station is bordered by one of those little gallery chandeliers: look, but don’t touch. In almost an hour of watching the game, I only saw Kim’s avatar twice, both times because the bot had quit and restarted the game, causing an intro screen that shows a comic version. of his face. In that regard, the whole experience marked realism: If you were really a guy at a bus stop with $ 2 in your pocket, you probably wouldn’t interact with Kim Kardashian unless you saw her resemblance on a billboard. display or advertisement.

The other works in the series are secondary characters to / roʊˈdeɪoʊ / Let’s play: HOLLYWOOD, but are also more obviously funny. There is a group of what you might call works on paper: a series of bags of airplane vomit on which Arcangel printed “now let’s be clear” and “I don’t know who needs to know that” and other phrases that often precede a reprimand Twitter thread. Two other bot-related works are also on display: one with multiple monitors that shows a bot automatically liking corporate tweets, and one in which two bots play chess against each other by posting Instagram comments. There are also a few so-called “cutlery” works by Arcangel, Ikea table tops affixed with prints showing close-ups of the logos on sweatpants. These pieces seem to justify / roʊˈdeɪoʊ / Let’s play: HOLLYWOOD‘s in a gallery showing that Arcangel Is it that working in other media, throwing viewers a bone with tangible objects that are easier to understand as art. The humor of these objects also gives context to his Kardashian-based opus: it confirms that Arcangel is making a joke, and that he also makes a point. As he once said of his works, “They seem like a joke at first, but that’s never what they are. If you look at them, they are always a little more complicated.

/ roʊˈdeɪoʊ / Let’s play: HOLLYWOOD Certainly says a lot about the specific nature of Kardashian’s fame. While its rise may seem undeserved to many observers, it did so through a series of strategic tabloid placements and product offerings. The bot playing the game “at random” stands in stark contrast to the not at all random nature of Kim’s self-promotion campaign, and also with the goal of the game itself: to perform a series of carefully calculated moves in order. to become famous.

Kim’s common sense as a businesswoman is clearly not enough to keep her from being the butt of jokes when it comes to the art world. Her future ex-husband, Kanye West, was more successful during the crossover: he studied painting, he brought in artists such as George Condo and Takashi Murakami to create his album covers, and he even staged his own solo show in top LA gallery in 2016 (aptly titled FAMOUS). Not to mention the Calabasas estate that he and Kim designed with Axel Vervoordt: their home was literally a white cube, and contemporary art abounded. Kim herself didn’t break through in the same way. His acceptance among the cultural elite was more or less based on his financial success and proximity to his partner (see: articulation Vogue blanket).

If you didn’t know what Kim and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood signified (capitalism, consumer culture, occasional narcissism, lowbrow languishing for the acceptance of intellectuals…), it seems that Arcangel has only created a bot that plays a video game. As much as the joke is on Kim, the play wouldn’t work without her. The longer I stood there watching, the more I realized Arcangel never thought the bot would win the game. He had neither the motivation nor the capacity to do so. This new installation is proof that the artist has risen, reaching the complexity that we now need to experience the same sensations that he has always tried to arouse in the viewer; his Nintendo clouds no longer seem absurd enough. It also made me hyper aware of our moment – the one in which Kim Kardashian West once played with the system and became a household name. The joke is on her, but it’s also on us.