Artist Ryder Ripps Makes the Internet His Classroom

For ALONE TOGETHER, the controversial artist combines an immersive digital exhibit with invaluable technology classes for high schoolers.

Courtesy of Red Bull.

The internet can be a vast, faceless, lonely place, but are we lonelier because of it? This is one of the many questions 28-year-old artist Ryder Ripps has raised with his newest exhibit ALONE TOGETHER, a three-pronged investigation of modern tech culture presented in collaboration with digital collective Powrplnt and City As School, an alternative New York City high school dedicated to experiential learning. The exhibit and project will run through April at Red Bull Studios in NYC. ALONE TOGETHER’s showpiece is an installation meant to mimic the web, and our brain when confronted with an endless barrage of images. A viewing box has been set up on the second floor, and when you look through the “peep holes” several digital images flash by at hyper-speed. On the ground level of the Studios, a series of glass cubicles house six “performers”, pre-chosen from Craigslist, who produce these images in real time, beaming them into the viewing area via cable; meant to cause a very real, physical and emotional disconnect between producer and viewer, the installation is supposed to stand in as "a microcosm of the internet". This is the aspect of the show that has received the most press, yet it’s not the beating heart of the project. That honor goes to the work City As School and Powrplnt have been doing to provide students on-site with tech internships, as well as free courses in the use of digital art-making tools including 3D printing, code, and Ableton Live. The temporary classroom at Red Bull, or the Technigarden as it is lovingly called, is a hybrid digital and organic space that features work from students and the public, and real plants mixed with digital art. It’s hoped that through this project students will feel empowered by technology rather than intimidated.

A peek into the "Technigarden," courtesy of Powrplnt.

The viewing platform, courtesy of Red Bull.

Ripps would also like students to know the power and community the web can bring them. "The internet is a living, breathing thing,” Ripps says. “It isn't just cables and codes, it's people. That, to me, is very important.” Ripps knows more than a few things about the internet. A former City As School student himself, the lifelong New Yorker has been an active participant on the web from an early age, learning how it worked and even co-creating one of the world’s most famous memes—the “deal with it” sunglasses—and more recently the Drake Shake app, which went viral when it enabled users to insert Canadian rapper Drake into photos. Ripps also co-runs a production studio, OKfocus, which melds art, tech, and advertising in organic ways that benefit both brands and creators.

Ripps credits the web with providing an influential community during his turbulent adolescence, a period that found him enrolling in City As School, which in the artist’s own words gave an uninterested, bad news kid the chance to learn real-world-practical skills. “It's a second-chance school, so you would need to drop out [to enroll]. I interned at Smash [music] Studios and a community television station. These were extremely powerful, eye-opening experiences for me. All I wanted to do at that age was be taken seriously as an adult.” This is what led to Ripps' decision to incorporate the school into his Red Bull residency, and to tap friend and co-collaborator Angelina Dreem of Powerplnt, who has grassroots experience synthesizing digital art, social justice, and education. “The aim [of the project] is to provide equal access to resources for art making,” explains Dreem. “As the exhibition develops, the students will have the opportunity to display work they’ve made using the tools and concepts they encounter in the space.”

Powerplnt and City As School students at ALONE TOGETHER/ Red Bull Studios. Courtesy of Powerplnt.

City As School students studying, courtesy of Powrplnt.

But this project is something larger than a temporary pop-up for Dreem: “I started Powrplnt as a reaction to gentrification in Bushwick. I wanted to create a system that would combat the stratification between who has access to creativity and agency, and who does not,” she explains. “Technology creates an opportunity for the democratization of ideas.” So far Dreem and her partner, Hanny Ahern, have the students creating GIFs, sound design and interactive video, learning basic tools like adobe, and attending weekend all-ages events, but the best has only begun. “It’s also very important for me to highlight the artists who are a part of my community,” explains Dreem. “I call these Inspiro-sesh's, meant to inspire and create a dialogue. Rashaad Newsome will be demonstrating his work with the help of a local performing arts high school. [Design alchemist] Heidi Lee will discuss her designs and 3D printing. And the all women DJ collective, Discwoman, will be taking over the space for one of our larger events which will feature music, tutorials and performances.”

Courtesy of Red Bull.

All this sounds great, but are the kids enjoying it? “The students are incredibly receptive and curious,” says Ahern. “For many, this is their first time [using this technology]. It's really fun to see them discover new potential in themselves [and] then light up!”

Amelia Cleary, a teacher at City As School, also views the collaboration positively. “The experience of learning by doing in a real-world setting shifts many of these student's willingness to engage. At Red Bull,” she continues, “I've witnessed complete engagement. Students who are relaxed and happy, with a level of openness that, I believe, comes from the authenticity of external, experiential learning. It is such an example of what great internships do for our students. “

Ultimately, ALONE TOGETHER, despite its name, is about bringing people together rather than isolating them. “People are thinking more about how giving back can be intertwined in the creative process,” says Ahern, “thinking beyond immediate gratification and recognizing the ways in which we are interconnected, and [discovering that they] have so much power to create community and inspire."

Visit "Alone Together" at Red Bull Studios New York (220 W. 18th Street) through April 12, 2015 from 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.

For a complete schedule of Powrplnt events check here.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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