Cory Arcangel Plays with Printer Test Patterns, Creates Tangible Tribute to Printerless Future

Artist Cory Arcangel, who you may know best for having hacked Super Mario Bros. to create a meditative cloudscape free of crusading plumbers, is gearing up for a solo show at the Whitney next year. In the meantime, he’ll join the likes of Claire Danes, Lily Donaldson, and Jessica Stam in hosting the museum’s Studio Party on October 26. Like any good host, he’s whipped up some treats for the guests. Arcangel has created “HP Photosmart C3180 All-In-One Test (Forward and Back Again)” (at right, click image to enlarge) a print that will be given to the first 50 people who purchase Artist Sponsor ($500) tickets to the party. “There are certain parts of our technological lives which tend to come and go without ever having the chance to be archived,” says Arcangel. “My print for the Whitney is inspired by these missed opportunities.” The work consists of the test pattern that his printer (an HP Photosmart C3180) initiates automatically when a new ink cartridge is inserted. The pattern is printed twice, once upside down, on a sheet of letter-sized paper. “To make the edition, ink cartridges had to be taken out and inserted into my C3180 100 times thus forcing the test pattern to print twice for each print,” he adds. “In the future when printers have different, or no test patterns—or even when there are no more printers—it is my hope that these prints will serve as a reminder of how far we have come and at the same time what little progress has been made.”