The Download

Being a Rhizome member certainly has its benefits. For some time, I only had a username and password, which didn’t do much. I couldn’t add art events, I was unable to add new artists as favorites to my profile, and couldn’t really engage with other Rhizome members. Last month, I finally decided to give Rhizome my $25 to get my virtual hands on some artwork and the ability to leave comments on some well written critical pieces on art and technology. In any case, The Download (available to members only) launched this morning. The first downloadable artwork is Ryder Ripps: Ryder Ripp’s Facebook (2011). Ripps’s digital piece is reminiscent of Kenneth Lo’s conceptual work, Every Stone Thethered to Sleep (2010), that showed early this year at Southern Exposure gallery in San Francisco. They both look at the nature of memory and how one connects with the rest of the world.

Looking through Ripp’s Facebook photos and videos, one may wonder how a bunch of file folders containing Facebook photos and videos can be considered art. Then again, that’s the point, to discuss. I have friends post fancy edited photography of their kids and landscapes. Is that art? Well, personally, I don’t think so and here’s why. People want to show you something (i.e., My kid is cute., The sun setting over the Pacific Ocean is gorgeous., etc.). There’s an assertion and assumption that what is shown to you is a thing of beauty. Right? I mean, that’s why people post photos of themselves in the best light. For goodness sake, I do that with my profile pictures!

My point: Art such as Ryder Ripps provoke us to perceive in different ways. When photographs and sculptures based on social networking are brought to a viewer’s attention, whether it be a download or an exhibition in a gallery, these artworks aren’t blatant or spoon-fed cuteness or pretty retinal delights. Works such as Ripp’s want us to think about what’s in the background, why something is important, what might be missing that we’re not seeing, or just plain humorous and absurd. Remember, artists are like film directors, they’re only going to show you parts of a whole so you can gestalt the rest.

In any case, looking forward to looking through more of Ripp’s photos and videos. Now, you maybe asking yourself, “She paid $25 to look at artists photos and videos?” The answer is yes but I’ll have a lot more to discuss at a dinner party than you…I’m certain. 😉

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

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