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A New American PictureCourtesy of Doug Rickard / Yossi Milo Gallery, New York and Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco
Care to go on a poverty tour of America’s neglected neighborhoods? A new photo series on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art through January 16, 2012, makes such a journey possible. In A New American Picture, photographer Doug Rickard takes viewers on a tour of the run-down, the derelict, and the economically depressed through a tool from one of the world’s wealthiest corporations: Google. Rickard scouted out specific locations on Google Maps that show crippling economic devastation—boarded-up buildings in Camden, N.J., overgrown sidewalks in Detroit, and neglected lots in New Orleans. He snapped digital photographs of the scene playing out on his computer monitor. Each image was a frozen, voyeuristic glimpse into the downtrodden lives of others, frozen for the viewer to study and attempt to understand just how hard that life may be.
Many are filled with the faceless characters that haunt these worlds; one can’t help but feel like they’ve been let down. Through A New American Picture, Rickard, as tour guide to a shadowed nation, spotlights issues as diverse as the crippling poverty that runs rampant in urban America to one’s rights to personal privacy on the Web. For many people seen in his photos, the American Dream is but a fantasy. “These people are invisible,” Rickard told The British Journal of Photography. “Even in the U.S., other people don't realize how bad their conditions are.”