Los Angeles artist Ray Anthony Barrett likes to play with 90’s hip hop vernacular and transform words into literal interpretations using anthropomorphism with pen and ink on paper. The animal faces serve as masks, shielding the true identities of the subjects in question, and further exploring the idea behind society’s incessant need to commodify native themes and exaggerate the very spectacle that has become infotainment.
Manipulating paradoxes found in the language of hip hop, Barrett combines his own brand of dry humour as well as poignant critical observation. Drawing from his own freestyle verses, he creates a mirror-like dynamic through his stream-of-consciousness between the words on the page of his notebook, with the lines that extrude from his pen on the page of his illustrations. The fun part is that he dissects the derogatory using this technique – and reveals it’s anthropomorphic nature – only to link it back up to their origins in African-American cultural folklore.
“Hip-hop is a trickster vernacular — it’s full of hybrids, playful, always shape-shifting, and as soon as the society of the spectacle, to borrow Debord’s terminology, gets a hold of it, it’s already changing into something else — a new word is born from the source of the hip-hop lexicon and the old one remains an empty commodity to be consumed. Like jiggy it’s got no juice anymore, and hasn’t for a long time. With nearly eight million definitions, the open-sourced Urban Dictionary is an example of how the rules of “combat” demand more of a personal, micro-level engagement — like guerilla warfare, but with the alchemy of words.”
– Ray Anthony Barrett
And to find out more about Ray Anthony Barrett, check out his website.