Adam Ryder is an artist working in lens-based mediums in Brooklyn, NY.  He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in Photography, Video and Related Media in New York City. Ryder also writes about contemporary photographic practice and has contributed to Photograph, American Photo and Popular Photography magazines.

Working in lens-based mediums for over ten years Adam Ryder's art practice has incorporated many methodologies while examining photography as an empirical technology in the service of institutional narratives. His recent work has approached this investigation with photographic prints and publications that purport to supply factual information sourced from various organizations that, while fictional, mirror various actual, archival, governmental and occult entities. His book "Selections from the Joint Photographic Survey: Ancient Sites in the British Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan 1923-1930", is a limited-edition photobook published by Conveyor Editions in the fall of 2016.

Elena Vaninetti (E.V.). 
How did you start this project, are you passionate of archeology?

Adam Ryder (A.R.). I started this project about six months after I finished graduate school and was working a nighttime desk job that didn't require much, so I was free to pursue my own work and interests while I was there, the only caveat being that I had to man my desk.  With these constraints in mind, I set about designing a photo project I could immerse myself in without actually shooting and stumbled across the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division website which hosts tons of high-resolution historical images that have been donated to the U.S. federal government and are licensed as free to use for anyone.  I became really interested in an archive of images from the Levant in the 20's and 30's authored by a group called the American Colony in Jerusalem.  I decided to meld parts of this factual history with my own long-standing interest in architecture, archaeology and genre fiction - particularly science fiction.  In my past work, I'd spent quite a bit of time making architectural composite imagery using photos I'd shot, so the methodology of making the work was not new to me, though the concept and narrative were exciting to assemble.  The Joint Photographic Survey is my own invention and is a sort of utopic organization, an alternate-history endeavor to catalog and preserve ancient relics and monuments in the Middle East following the destruction of the first World War.  

E.V. What is your aim as author, pretending to have discovered this lost archive and so presenting yourself in fact as the curator of this book?

A.R. My aim has never been to pull the wool over people's eyes about the project, in terms of its veracity.  I have had a few people ask me where I took the photos, or where the structures depicted in them are located - but for the most part I think it's evident to anyone who spends some time with the book or with the prints that the images are digital composites — they're not designed to stand up to real scrutiny.  Because I'd be breaking the fourth wall if I introduced myself in the book as the author of the photos, I'm written myself as a contemporary artist out of the explanation of their creation.

E.V. Seems that in the last years always more lens based artists are playing with illusion between real and fake images using a mockumentary approach, do you think that in somehow we are tired of our reality? We feel the need to speak of real issues but escaping from the reality limits?

A.R. I don't think we are so much tired of reality, I think there's a huge demand still for "authentic" imagery and photographs that capture things more-or-less as the eyes see them: photojournalistic images and indeed the steady and overwhelming stream of live still and video images from people's daily lives served up by social media platforms.  I do think that perhaps this has generated a countervailing interest within contemporary fine-art photography circles in images that explore realms outside the quotidian - abstraction, archival work, digitally generated and self-referential images that explore the nature of images themselves; how they are traded, what they mean collectively and separately, and how the medium is uniquely situated to comment on post-modern society.

E.V. At the end of the book there is a chapter dedicated to archeological and field photographers, a sort of tribute to those figures. Can you tell me more about? 

A.R. The first iteration of the Joint Photographic Survey book was much smaller and contained less text and images and was limited to an edition of 100 that I had self-published.  I sold the books largely through my website and word-of-mouth and I also shipped them out myself to those who'd placed orders online.  I became very curious about the folks who found this limited-edition book and were interested in it, some were university professors.  A couple of years after I'd sold out of all the self-published variety, Conveyor Editions approached me about publishing an expanded version of the book with more images, text and an essay.  I immediately thought of reaching out to some of the academics who'd purchased my little book and was delighted when Benjamin Anderson, an art history professor from Cornell University wrote me back to tell me he'd like to contribute some writing.  Dr. Anderson's contribution really bowled me over - instead of simply writing a comment on the work that I'd done in the book, he wanted to add to and expand the narrative I'd created.  His essay in the back of the back acts a very poetic type of training manual for the photographers of the Joint Photographic Survey.  In it, he makes reference to some of the real historic figures, like Anthony Ashley-Cooper the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, who helped shape popular conceptions about the Levant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The essay also makes some insightful and romantic commentary on the intangible and ephemeral aspects of the photographic medium - it's probably my favorite part of the book.