Mini-PBR Video Sculpture
Plastic steer head roping dummy, maple cabinet, artificial cowhide, video player, Sony mini-video projector, bull riding video 120 min. Bull horn span 22 1/2 “, maple cabinet size 14 1/2″ x 32 1/2″ x 5”.
Bull Rider, 1999 exemplifies Ringsby’s desire to create user friendly video art, video art that that is simple to operate, self contained and is easily displayed on a desk top. Built into a black bull head, in fact a steer roping dummy, is a mini video projector. This projector shoots a video of professional bull riding at night onto a wooden screen. The screen is built into the wooden cabinet that holds and hides the video player.
Perhaps there is no greater thrill than cheating death. Playing with mortality is what this piece is all about. One peers over the fateful horns of the bull and the cowhide that covers the top of the cabinet, meant to represent the bulls body, to witness the rodeo action. The rectangular box with it’s tombstone like projection screen and ominous black animal icon are reminiscent of a coffin or grave. Nearly half of all accidents and most of the deaths in rodeo are the result of mishaps in bull riding. The life and death struggle that is bull riding fascinate Ringsby. There is probably no greater public display of raw courage and pure machismo than bull riding. Within the eight seconds that make up a regulation ride the bull rider will go through a full range of emotions from abject terror to glorious joy to profound relief. Classical Greek pottery depicted men jumping over the horns of charging wild bulls. Bull Rider, 1999 is contemporary in that it addresses the issue of the virtual experience. People today increasingly live and experience life vicariously through television, magazines, the internet and other forms of ersatz experience. The artist spent a decade in academia, much of the time behind a computer. In the end he returned to his Western roots and the old family ranch in Wyoming. He started riding broncs to improve his horsemanship and discovered the beauty of rodeo. Rodeo is real and those who participate in it, including the artist, love it for that reason. Bull riding is the antithesis of virtual reality.