John O’Brien reviews Rebecca Ripple’s Surface Tension in Artillery 3.24.16

When art is construed to be some thing that translates the tension between its physical and visual manifestation and the more complex thinking and barely articulable feeling-processes of the artist, then the sculptural work of Rebecca Ripple should be described as pushing at that envelope as strenuously as possible. “Surface Tension” manifests this friction as much as it addresses the specifics of how Ripple conceives of relaying the ways in which fragmentation, alienation, territorialization and the diffusion of power are interwoven into our contemporary lives and projected in our collective consciousness.


In this series of works, made of widely varied materials, Ripple addresses both purely sculptural concerns such as gravity, translucency and formal arrangements of objects in space, and thematic issues such as information overload, social conditioning and paranoia. Ranging from the aphoristic directness of Cork (2016) to the much more intricate flourishes of Untitled (2015), her work, with its characteristic enigmatic bearing and spatial interest, charts how internalized mechanisms such as city wide transit, surveillance and mass communication in the modern world have created funnels and impasses through which everyone must pass and with which everyone has to come to terms.


Fueled by a sense of dread underlying the uncanny beauty, visitors find themselves mirrored literally and metaphorically in the work: watching themselves being watched. Typical of her artwork, fear 2 (2016) consists of an arrangement of objects: facing out from the wall and positioned above a cylindrical wood column topped with light blue glass, a concave mirror; hanging above glass-topped cylinder, a plastic o-ring, possibly usurped from medical implements, from which a series of stainless steel and silicone tools hang.


At first glance, it’s just a grouping of odd shiny things reflected in another shiny thing reflecting the viewer, but upon closer inspection, these unique handcrafted instruments covertly spell out the word fear.  Thus the pageantry of technical precision coupled with an off-the-shelf display is transformed into a study of how we must look below the surface of things. That is very much the substance of the surface tension Rebecca Ripple is exploring with such persistent and fascinating results.

Rebecca Ripple, “Surface Tension,” March 5 – April 2, 2016, Klowden Mann, 6023 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232,

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