Doug Rickard: A New American Picture
Photographs by Doug Rickard. Text by David Campany. Interviewer Erin O'Toole.
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Doug Rickard’s “A New American Picture” offers a startling and fresh perspective on American street photography. While at first glance the work looks reassuringly familiar and well within the traditional bounds of the genre, Rickard’s methodology is anything but conventional. All of the images are appropriated from Google Street View; over a period of two years, Rickard took advantage of the technology platform’s comprehensive image archive to virtually drive the unseen and overlooked roads of America–bleak places that are forgotten, economically devastated and abandoned. With an informed and careful eye, Rickard finds and decodes these previously photographed scenes of urban and rural decay. He rephotographs the machine-made images as they appear on his computer screen, framing and freeing them from their technological origins. As Geoff Dyer has commented on the work, “It was William Eggleston who coined the phrase ‘photographing democratically, ‘ but Rickard has used Google’s indiscriminate omniscience to radically extend this enterprise–technologically, politically and aesthetically.” A limited-edition monograph of “A New American Picture” was published by White Press/Schaden in 2010; upon publication, it was named a best book of that year by “Photo-Eye” magazine, and quickly went out of print. This edition brings Rickard’s provocative series, including more than 30 new images, to a wider audience.
Doug Rickard (born 1968) studied American history and sociology at University of California, San Diego. He is the founder of American Suburb X (www.americansuburbx.com) and These Americans (www.theseamericans.com), aggregating websites for essays on contemporary photography and historical photographic archives. “A New American Picture” was included in the annual “New Photography” exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2011.
Number of pages: 144
Publication date: 09-30-2012
Measurements: 12.8 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches
His large prints of the Google Street View images have an unnatural digitized look with angles distorted by this new mobile technology. At the same time, they’re eerily invasive, exuding a ghostly intimacy. His images underscore the way we are increasingly conditioned to see the world-at a surveillance camera’s remove.–Philip Gefter”Departures” (05/01/2015)
Doug Rickard studied U.S. history and sociology at UC San Diego. He is the founder of American Suburb X and These Americans, aggregating websites for essays on contemporary photography and historical photographic archives. In 2011, A New American Picture was included in the annual New Photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A solo exhibition is planned for fall 2012 at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.
Historian David Campany is one of the best-known and most accessible writers on photography. He has published several books, among them Handful of Dust (2015), The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip (Aperture, 2014), Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (2013), and Photography and Cinema (2008). He contributes regularly to a range of publications, including Aperture and Oxford Art Journal.
Erin O’Toole studied drawing and engraving in college.