Ryder Ripps – Barbara Lee


The work features over 60,000 images, sourced from a post 9/11 internet, all competing for your attention. There is a direct link between the speed at which we move and the images we produce/consume. A.M. Cassandre was making posters in 1920's Paris, when automobiles ran alongside horses. He was once asked why his poster designs feature such large type, he responded how else would people in Automobiles be able to read it? Today images live within a narrow column which we scroll through quickly with our thumbs and/or forefingers. Every few minutes we open our phones, swiping down for more content. Images today have to communicate much faster. There is no nuance or bearing to human scale – the feed satisfies the obvious, the grotesque and the abstract absurdism of modern humor. I wanted the piece to represent a landscape like ours. Our landscape is is no longer dominated by architecture and nature, but rather Facebook and Instagram – we are perpetually looking down, not up.  Thus, the work is on the floor, which also creates the visual analogy of a city grid for the Trade Center sculptures to tower over. Jules LaPlace and I downloaded millions of images from the internet and then went through them at thumbnail size to discern their legibility.
From afar the work is overwhelming and abstract, no single image is able to stand out. Yet when you're crawling on it you start recognizing things, engrossed in the hyperbolic clickbait simulacra of today's society. The past couple years I have been feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of media competing for my attention, the work mirrors this. It's a critique of clickbait as a reflection/mirror of clickbait. In this sense it too is clickbait. The events of 9/11 caused the convergence of reality and cinema. The disaster films of the 90s, such as Independence Day, were most visually analogous to 9/11. In the wake of that spectacle Barbara Lee was the only member of congress who used calm reason and logic in her decision making. She paid the price for this by receiving death threats for years. Successful media since 9/11 uses similar mechanics. Whether its Flavor of Love, Kanye, Trump, Rebecca Black or The Harlem Shake.. these medias all make us ask "is this for real?" in the same way 9/11 did. Most news today is divisive clickbait, traditionally known as yellow journalism. In a hyperbolic media landscape, where everyone is fighting for attention, I see myself like Barbara Lee. The show title is an ode to Barbara Lee and grounds the work in the post 9/11 world it addresses. It's difficult to reflect on our screen based landscape within this same screen – as it has no bodily baring. Transposing these images physically puts them in context of the body. I wanted people to feel physically enveloped by imagery.. I wanted to represent our landscape with the representational power of the World Trade Centers on a cityscape. The work is to accurate scale of the towers.