The work of contemporary artist Doug Rickard signifies a new era for the photographic medium while referencing a rich history of street photography. Google Street View technology allows Rickard to study street scenes from around the country — without leaving his studio. He appropriates the scenes captured by Google’s automated lens and edits the images to reveal a lifestyle often hidden from our gaze.

Google launched Street View in 2007. Their vans mounted with nine-lens, 360-degree cameras roam every street capturing unauthorized panoramas of places and people, posting them online to be accessed by anyone on the Internet. Some find this practice intrusive and degrading, others see beauty in the grainy and gritty quality of the photographs. Rickard saw an opportunity to document the American reality. After studying the works of Depression Era photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, and Ben Shahn, Rickard wanted to extend their tradition of strikingly real, emotionally stirring portraiture into the 21st century. He says, “I was interested in photographing America in the same context, with the same poetry and power, that has been done in the past.”

Doug Rickard was born in San Jose, CA and studied U.S. history and sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He is the founder of American Suburb X and These Americans, web sites that aggregate essays on contemporary photography and historical photographic archives. In 2011, his series A New American Picture was included in the annual New Photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work is represented in New York by the Yossi Milo Gallery and by Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco.

Doug Rickard 3 August,2015Spark

View the Doug Rickard educator guide

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The Photography of Doug Rickard segment was produced by Spark for This Week in Northern California.


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