Cory Arcangel | BACK OFF

4 May - 7 July 2019 10am - 5pm


Thoughts on violence, aggression, and surveillance; as seen through retro gaming, military technology and fashion. A survey featuring drawing, photography, lorry lights, a laser, a drum machine, and a baby monitor, as well as a new series of prints on Ikea table tops made specifically for Firstsite.

Cory Arcangel is an American artist inspired by the short term memory of western culture. He uses conventions of popular culture, be they video games, web browsers, iconic musicians, or textiles, to question the pervasiveness and longevity of consumer technologies, and fashion.

This survey of his work, BACK OFF, draws upon Colchester’s identity as a garrison town and explores how technologies originally developed for the military, like lasers and the Internet, have been accumulated into mainstream culture. In many cases Arcangel reconfigures these technologies to subvert or question their original uses. For example, in MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds (2005) two Nintendo game cartridges have been hacked—rendering the game unplayable.

Join artist Cory Arcangel in conversation with Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director for the 2019 edition of London’s Art Night festival on Tues 25 June 2019 7pm. Find out more


The exhibition is complemented by an online artwork, Bomb Iraq (2005)

Bomb Iraq (2005) Cory Arcangel Image courtesy the artist,, bwFLA and University of Freiburg

Bomb Iraq (2005) is an online restoration of a readymade artwork based on a Macintosh TV Arcangel bought from the Salvation Army in 2005. Amidst an array of personal files preserved on the Macintosh TV, Arcangel found a home-made game called Bomb Iraq, which was created with the multimedia authoring and programming software HyperCard. Presumably designed by one of the computer’s former owners, who seemed to have been a teenage boy, it offered a simplistic game-like experience, allowing users to flip through a virtual deck of cards depicting a hand-drawn missile hitting a clipart outline of Iraq. Originally showing the game as a found object, the work – along with the full contents of the Macintosh TV’s hard disk, with the users’ personal information removed – was restored and made accessible online by Dragan Espenschied for Rhizome in 2014.

Click here to view the piece online.


Arcangel Studio: Josie Keefe, Henry Van Dusen, Amanda Schmidt
Rhizome: Dragan Espenschied, Zachary Kaplan, Michael Connor
Lisson Gallery: Emma Gifford-Mead, Katherine Hewitt, Thalassa Balanis, Alex Logsdail
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac: Arne Ehmann, Hella Pohl