The internet is for surfing, not printing.
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NET ART
ANTHOLOGY

Arcangel Surfware

Cory Arcangel

2014 - ongoing

Arcangel Surfware was founded by artist Cory Arcangel as “a non-aspirational lifestyle brand” with the aim of producing comfortable, useful products for web surfing, and has since expanded to offer a range of retail products and publications.

Arcangel Surfware exists in parallel with Arcangel’s artistic practice, allowing him to circulate works via the commercial internet and without the mediation of art institutions or galleries.

Cory Arcangel x Arcangel Surfware, arcangelsurfware.biz, 2014. Screenshot of website and webshop. Courtesy: Arcangel Surfware.

Visit arcangelsurfware.biz on the live web.

An Arcangel Surfware dump bin was installed at the New Museum Store for [“THE ART HAPPENS HERE: NET ART’S ARCHIVAL POETICS”].

For Arcangel Surfware, Arcangel has emblazoned his signature Comic Sans typeface, yin-yang symbol, and rainbow gradients onto a variety of retail products: bedsheets, tracksuits, zines with printed lines of code, and vinyl albums of electronic keyboard music.

Cory Arcangel x Arcangel Surfware, Arcangel Surfware S/S/F/W 2014 Spectrum collection, 2013–2014. Photo: Tim Barber. Courtesy: Arcangel Surfware.

As the company evolved, it began to expand its offering to include celebrity-themed fidget spinners and projects by other artists, such as Tony Conrad’s “Music and the Mind of the World” (created 1976–1982, released 2017).

Along with a now-shuttered online store, Surfware embraced creating unique retail environments, holding court at art book fairs and staging pop-ups.

Installation view: Cory Arcangel, “You Only Live Once,” Holiday Inn Soho, New York, USA, May, 2014. Works pictured: 24 Dances For The Electric Piano Long-Sleeve Silkscreened T-Shirt, 2013; Spectrum Yin-Yang Crest- T-Shirt, 2014. Photo:David Brandon Geeting. Courtesy: Arcangel Surfware.

The brand launched with a temporary shop in a Manhattan Holiday Inn conference room, where fans and collectors could purchase the artist’s branded goods.

“I would consider them two parallel systems. Surfware has its own mailing list, its own customer base, its own invoicing protocol; it also has its own products, which have their own inventory number... So it’s separated. But, in terms of the relationship with my work; although it is parallel, there is a kind of bleed.” — Cory Arcangel

Cory Arcangel x Arcangel Surfware, Flagship, 2017 (Detail). Flagship store and sometimes art gallery. Photo: Jan Inge Haga. Courtesy: Arcangel Surfware

In 2018, Arcangel Surfware opened its brick-and-mortar flagship in Stavanger, Norway. The thirty-four square-meter storefront, formerly a rifle shop, also hosts an in-house gallery, Flagship A.S.

The flagship will be recreated for a one-day event at the New Museum on May 18, 2019, as part of the exhibition “The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics.”

Arcangel Surfware Scanner Painting Frequent Flyer Neck Pillow, 2019.

Pursuing net art’s long-standing fascination with commercial aesthetics to its logical conclusion, Arcangel Surfware plays on the overlap between his roles as artist and entrepreneur.

The project is less a critique of art’s commercialism than a kind of retail therapy: through Arcangel Surfware, the artist is able to engage directly with audiences without institutional mediation, while carving out space within the commercial internet for aesthetic expression.