Richard Sides’ work is medium non-specific and often explores improvisation. Some recurring techniques include video works, expansive collage techniques, and inhabitable environments and structures. Media images and other found objects are used by Sides in these processes, borrowing from the initial application of images and commodity worlds; often simply presented to the viewer unmediated.
Here, the spectators find themselves in a process of trying to make sense of things, images, or arrangements, questioning their authenticity and confronting the proposed usage. At other points, Sides’ arrangements condense into clear statements, utilizing pop cultural references and observations on political reality, including film quotes and elements of meme culture.
For the exhibition The Matrix at Schiefe Zähne, the artist has designed a mural that occupies the entire space. On top of the mural a series of new works are installed, these include: found printers, collages, a robot dog and various objects.
While Sides demonstrates to us the paradox of this state of being „in-between“, along with the cult of mediation that currently rages through our markets, codes, and relationships, even the „media-polemic beating to death of an opponent“ he does not attempt to come down on one side of any heated debate with his art. In full knowledge that criticality and artistic autonomy have long since been incorporated into the plastic sphere of value (say hello to „the new spirit of capitalism“), he does not offer any platitudes of technophilic intoxication or technophobia. On the contrary, Sides makes transparent use of technology in his networked and de-centralized space, by acknowledging their frameworks and what is codified within them. In doing so, he mirrors the tendency of sampling and memes and their creative replicatory genesis, where creation goes hand in hand with imitation and alteration, thereby leading to the irritating ambiguity of a degraded form of communication, one that lacks understanding. That he rarely acts alone in doing so, and more often collectively, ultimately serves as recognition of the necessity of community.
Elisa R. Linn, 2020