Russell E.L. Butler + Ian Colon
"MANIPULATE" was created to capture the sense of contradiction and frustration that we feel as people of color living in the Bay Area working for institutions engaged in societal change. By contrasting the spaces we regularly inhabit, we wanted to show how jarring it feels to exist in these seemingly contradictory environments and create a true representation of our daily lives.
Inspired by paper collage, we’ve layered the seductively calm imagery of shopping malls, museums and nature, with frenetic street protest imagery. What interests us most about these seemingly disparate scenes, is how time rather than space separates them. How the potential for social upheaval or collective joy is always present in both places.
The fragile balance between these contractions is best represented by the chaos and tranquility of nature. Nature’s peace and ruthlessness have parallels in the day-in-day-out grind of urban living. Just as we submit to routine needs like paying bills and getting by, plants have a “me-first” mentality fighting for precious sunlight and choking out their neighbors while still acting as part of a harmonious whole.
Nature is also where we’ve had the most discussion about how we spend our time and what we’re doing with our lives. Just as nature can hold fragility, voraciousness, and sublime beauty all at once, it sometimes feels that music and protest serve as society’s pressure release valve keeping everything from imploding under the rhythm of just getting through the moment.