Tha Clickster and The Beige New World

We are not in London for the Frieze Art Fair as Rhizom suggests, we simply live here toiling away at the coal face of the culture industry. Our screens are colourful and our thoughts are dark. Therefore we would not dream of writing off the manipulated electronics of the Beige programming ensemble or the kinetic graphic work of the group Paper Rad as interesting but merely stylish nostalgia

(Rhizom article) and neither would we doubt that over the last 10 or so years, both ensembles have made a remarkably substantive and genre-shaping contribution to electronic media-inspired art. No, we simply love that stuff, we need it. Tha Click is our kick. We are tired, we feel lousy but still we manage to drag ourselves out on a Friday night to E:vent Gallery to receive a well formed shower of pixels.

Image by the Paper Rad Collective.

Here we meet our peer group in numbers and together we are seizing upon the technological detritus spawned by advancements in computing over the last three decades, well aware of but not shocked by Beige’s inclination to tinker with the inner workings of ubiquitous platforms past and present. Just like Paper Rad we are similarly drawn to the gaudiest fixtures of pop culture, yet it remains to be seen if we are capable of transmogrifying and amplifying them into a kaleidoscopic parallel universe all of our own, as the press release of e:vent gallery suggests.

The next day we have still enough pixel in our bloodstream to make it to Max Wigram Gallery which presents more of Cory Arcangel's creative hacking There, in this newly opened branch in a warehouse on Ridley Road market of posh upmarket Max Wigram whose other branch is on Bond Street, we are slightly concerned about the gentrification issues regarding such a gallery opening here but this lasts only a few seconds and then we feel at ease with the way Arcangel's work represents a shift in how artists and consumers alike are interacting with the world around them, innit?

Though this is not to say Arcangel has a utopian view of technology, but rather, quite the opposite. At the table with information materials at the entrance the artist declares that this is a show about how artists are powerless in the face of technologies. It irks him that according to him all we are getting with a computer is a piece of plastic with a built in aesthetic that is obsolete before it's out of the box. Now are these the words of someone admitting failure quite honestly and is this a point which should be taken up by other pixel artists who have not yet come round to admitting that to themselves? And isn't flirtation with pop art cynicism itself a concept that looks a bit jaded? Is Cory selling the aesthetics of the hacker and demo scene to the gallery audience or is he creatively hacking the art circuit? Unfortunately Max Wigram does not have many further materials online from which we could quote and with this web presence we can only advise a name change to Max Viagra, maybe, which would certainly get the webpage some more hits.

Do Photoshop Gradient and Smudge Tool Demonstrations printed with the most advanced printing technologies rock your world or just cry 'sell out'? Does Permanent Vacation, the centrepiece of the exhibition, [...] a new multi-channel work featuring two large-scale projections of computers running Microsoft Outlook in an unending exchange of 'out of office replies," recall the sublime grandeur of Andy Warhol's Empire State Building or is it just a boring reference to the stupidity of MS Outlook users? Are two video loops from Guns 'n Roses set against each other phasing in and out of synch an affirmation of the rock culture influence on current computer art? Just at the point when such questions might have cast unnecessary clouds over my forehead the artist presented us with a CD which contains Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album yet with some Glockenspiel added so that when ripped and file-shared the code base of Springsteen files online gets polluted with the artist's code and we recognize good old mischief and congratulate that the computer has not yet beaten the artist.

This was the first column of The Scavenger who scavenges the world for dead bits of irony provided for free;-)