When you first look at those photos come diretly in mind the works of two of the most important american photographers: Robert Frank and Stephen Shore. Frank, for the documentary part, the vacuity of an American dream, and Shore for the aesthetic, with the same cars, buildings and colors we see in his series from the 70s. But with a closer look you’ll notice that we are confronted with an other kind of photographs, a bit out of focus or even “pixelised”. There are indeed digitale and made with an unconventional camera: the one from googlemaps.
Namely: google street view. For his serie called “New American Pictures”, the american Doug Rickard navigated the most destitute areas of the country with the 360°street-level imagery tool from google. Chicago’s ghettos, Detroit’s neglected neighborhoods, untended streets in the Bronx… when Robert Frank’s pictures communicated the segregation and aggression in the american society in the 50s, Rickard’s work depicte a contemporary version of this dissolution of the American Dream throught images saved in the search engine.
As a result of Rickard’s selection, those pictures appear at the same time incredibly modern and very close to the classical iconography of color photography from the 70s, mixing today street scenes with timeless elements of the american culture, as old Pontiacs, wood houses or painted advertisments. With the low resolution and blurred faces, those photographs manage in the end to symbolize our capacity to ignore the reality of racial inequality issues, of America’s abandoned, “invisible” communities, until presented in a beautiful and familiar way.
The work of Doug Rickard has been featured as part of the “New Photography 2011” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) last september. It will be presented at the Yossi Milo Gallery in Spring 2012.
Doug Rickard was born in 1968 in San Jose, California. He is the founder and chief editor of the American Suburb X website. He currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Credits: Yossi Milo Gallery, all rights reserved.