For Lisson Presents 7, New York based artist Cory Arcangel has been invited to select works from Lisson Gallery's exhibition history, spanning more than 40 years. Works by John Armleder, Art & Language, Daniel Buren, Richard Deacon, Ceal Floyer, Dan Graham, Rodney Graham, Jenny Holzer and a new commission by Stephen Willats are presented alongside a cohesive body of work by Arcangel.
Cory Arcangel's practice creatively explores the use - and misuse - of technological models. His experiments often incorporate elements of humour and art historical rhetoric to form a distinctive interpretive language, drawing from sources as diverse as Photoshop tools, computer games and music videos. Operating between high culture, popular culture and subcultures, Arcangel's intuitive thought process combines the technical knowledge of a programmer with the haphazard tinkering of an amateur. Like all good experiments it often leads to unexpected results.
Arcangel 's selection of works for this exhibition has relied on a similar approach. The works are connected by a system of loose associations, reflected in formal and whimsical relations: the choices made are simultaneously well informed and spontaneous, avoiding the obvious path for the one that feels instinctively right.
Stephen Willats has from the 1960s to the present day been a pioneer in researching cybernetics applied to physical and social systems, communications theory and computer technology. He has been especially commissioned to create the installation Cybernetics Still Life: Conceptual Tower n. 41, 2009. The work is a large-scale wall diagram and two video-projections, which investigates the built environment as a site for social exchanges and interaction. This piece is presented alongside Visual Automatic No. 4, 1965. A motor-operated optical machine triggers the human brain to create meaningful order from random external visual stimuli, re-examining how reality is perceived and interpreted. Art & Language have similarly developed a body of work, which simultaneously draws from traditional medium of expression such as painting or sculpture while being the manifestation of a parallel system of critical analysis and discussion. Arcangel's film Untitled Translation Exercise, 2005, included in the exhibition, takes as its starting point the American high school film Dazed and Confused. Arcangel plays with the social and cultural connotations in the original film by using a Bollywood film studio to create a dubbed version. The dialogues throughout the film remain in the original language but the actors' Indian accents play against the cultural references of the Texan disaffected youths.
Other works in the exhibition delve in unconventional explorations of specialist disciplines. In The Gifted Amateur, 2007 Rodney Graham proposes the idea of a self-taught artist somehow stumbling across a personal abstract style in painting. Arcangel's Photoshop Gradients, 2008 are titled after the direct instructions for how to create an image using the Photoshop gradient tool. By setting a parameter, an originating point in the colour gamut, an image is automatically generated and here translated from the screen into a material surface. John Armleder uses chance as a method in the creation of his works and the determination of a final outcome. His Furniture Sculptures installations, of which Untitled, 1986 is part, juxtapose furniture with monochrome or abstract paintings in a scenographic presentation.
This intuitive and spontaneous process is countered by works which are generated by the application of a systematic methodology. Each of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays, 1979-82 is composed of 100 words distributed across 20 lines, which provide a rigid grid to provocative,rapturous content. Daniel Buren's site-specific interventions Zigzag for Two Colours were originally conceived for his Lisson Gallery solo exhibition in 2007. Buren's reductive approach through the use of signature stripes of fixed width with alternating bands of white and colour as the foundation of his work enabled him to explore the essential elements of painting and sculpture in relation to the ideological context, which produces their meaning.
Lastly, a playful subversion accompanies Arcangel's choices for the exhibition. His digital projection Colors, 2005 plays with the literalness of how video is displayed on a modern computer. Arcangel took Dennis Hopper's film Colors and processed it through an application for Quicktime movies. The result is each line in the film being played across the entire screen for a total of 33 days to play the whole movie. Ceal Floyer's work resonates with this approach. Her video Watercolour, 2003 plainly displays a screen of coloured water. As we hear a paintbrush being shaken in a glass container, the screen colour changes to another primary hue. Wall, 2002 is a humorous play with the marking for hazard warning. An entire wall is covered by layers of yellow and black warning tape applied diagonally to perceptually create straight lines of alternate colours, thus averting the connotation of danger.