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. 😉

Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

With touch screen technology, social media, and high definition television, the traditional artist must find ways to captivate an audience in a digital age. Kenney Mencher‘s, Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs, forthcoming exhibition at the ArtHaus gallery is, certainly, a show that piques my interest.

In reviewing his work, there is definitely a progression in both style and content. The Renovated Reputations should be a treat to individuals not familiar with his work and impressive to those that have followed him over the years. Much of my excitement is seeing him take his strengths (storytelling and fine art painting) and creating compositions that are engaging with a striking energy that is difficult to deny. I’ll post more after seeing the show, which opens on Friday, April 8th.

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A few photos from Southern Exposure of Kenneth Lo’s exhibition, every stone tethered to sleep/every presence wedded to stone