Ryan Aasen: The States Project: Minnesota
I met Ryan Aasen when he was a student at St. Cloud State University where I teach in the Art Department. It’s cliche to say a teacher learns from their students, but this is the case in my interactions with Ryan. His work has introduced me to new and concerning ideas about representation while reaffirming my awareness of photography’s schizophrenia. He makes pictures of the Internet and exposes its potential to be both a place of expression and transgression. His projects are the fruits of research and lived experiences combined with an acute awareness of the inner workings of popular, contemporary media and networks.
Ryan Aasen is an artist from Central Minnesota who makes work about the politics of technology at the intersection of physical and digital spaces. Ryan is a Northern Lights.mn Art(ists) on the Verge fellow and has a BFA from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. He is currently splitting his time between Minneapolis and New York City.
I am interested in the subtle implications that follow even the simplest interactions with digital technology. Although largely based on documentation, my work extends into interaction through readily available, over-the-counter technologies. Cheap phones, free software, and pirated files all serve as material to question positions of power and accentuate subversion and transgression within social and political systems.
In NSA, burner phones were used to override the GPS location in Grindr to interact with men living close to the areas of the Middle East where the United States is using unofficial and indirect war tactics such as cyberwarfare and drone strikes. Burners are often scrutinized because they can be used to anonymously subvert surveillance, but, for people living in these areas of the world, they can be the only means of accessing the internet.
By creating and mining my own archive of communications, I made a series of revolving works which map the intersecting politics of networking, surveillance, human rights, and global identity. Cues of surveillance culture infiltrate seemingly innocuous cues of local culture: black tinted glass and RF shielding mesh, used at the National Security Agency’s headquarters to protect their surveillance tactics, here shield mundane but intimate moments.
NSA was commissioned by Northern Lights.mn, the Jerome Foundation, and the Soap Factory for the Art(ists) on the Verge program. Installation photography provided by Rik Sferra.
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Ben Moren: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 12th, 2015
Pao Houa Her: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 11th, 2015
Ryan Aasen: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 10th, 2015
Hillary Berg: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 9th, 2015
Eric William Carroll: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 8th, 2015