From Andrew Frost
Doug Rickard’s A New American Picture is perhaps the inevitable consequence of Google Street View – an entire photographic essay on the subject of the state of America produced without a camera or the artist ever leaving his studio. In essence, Rickard’s work is an engagement with the vast online archive of Street View – images that are stitched-together then carefully unstitched by Rickard to find the ephemeral landscape of America’s recent past. Like fellow archival excavsit Michael Light, whose repurposing of NASA and Atomic Energy Agency pictures gave new life to their unseen holdings, Rickard finds a kind of essential ‘truth’ in his found images, one that is secondary to their intended function, but a vision that seems all more truthful for their incidental and accidental nature.
Compiled over four years, Rickard purposefully sought out images that depicted “the forgotten, economically devastated and largely abandoned places” of America’s economic decline. Using a camera to rephotograph the images direct from his computer screen, the images have an ethereal quality as their colours are washed out and perspective is bent by Street View’s 360-degree panorama. Locations in the Bronx, Jersey City, Dallas and elsewhere depict a blasted landscape of dusty and empty buildings, broken-down cars and kids and animals navigating the concrete vistas of Middle America. It looks like the apocalypse, but it has already happened.