The animator and designer St. Francis Elevator Ride’s delightful animated gifs read like the 21st century’s response to the Pop Art masters of the 1950s; using vintage ad imagery, the artist marries retro aesthetics with modern technology. The 1950s moon landing even makes a subtle appearance! Using the seductive visual powers of color, form, and motion, he explores the endless allure of kitsch appliances, electronics, and other pop culture or commercial materials.
Like Richard Hamilton did with the iconic collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, the mixed-media artist focuses much of his attention on domestic consumption. A chipper 1950s nuclear family is shown to be enjoying a night of bonding over screens, and a woman with perfectly coiffed hair replaces her eyes with dollar signs. The human body and sex drive become fused with images we intellectually associate with the media; as with the work of Roy Lichtenstein, flesh is rendered in polka dots, and women’s tears are represented in dramatic comic book-style shapes.
The body of work, dripping in a charming sort of irony, is made in a way that parallels its content. Like the Cleaver-esque family before the television, the viewer is seduced and transfixed by St. Francis Elevator Ride’s images. The eye is manipulated by an expert understanding of color; opposite colors like green and magenta alternate and flash at break-neck speed, forcing a sort of optical illusion that commands attention (this technique was widely employed by Andy Warhol). As technology and media integrate seamlessly into our home lives, our sense of identity shifts in challenging new directions; from these charming gifs, we might draw insight into the changing definitions of personal agency, selfhood, and intimacy.