Escalator to the Overlook

Ryan Decker

April 18th May 26th, 2024

Press Release
Escalator to the Overlook Checklist

In his first exhibition with the gallery, Ryan Decker is taking a hike. A walk down a winding trail where he deploys the materials of camping to transmute experiences from an adolescence spent experimenting in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia. Decker has created sculptural work on the border of figuration that explore the function and convenience of modern tools with the inherent chaos of nature. Escalator to the Overlook describes seemingly incompatible methods of escapism by merging the refuge found in digital spaces with the experience of retreating to the great outdoors.

In aluminum, fiberglass, and wood, Decker compares the computer screen and the tent as avenues for exploration, pointing at the blurred line of what is really “natural” nowadays. To survive, a camper must be augmented with the technology required to sleep outside. The four wall works all depict this technology in action - a propane stove for consumption, a water bladder for hydration, a trowel for hygienic defecation, and binoculars for sight. The tent, occupied by several creatures (rather than a solitary protagonist), represents the physical and emotional need for shelter.

With access to technology beyond the natural perceptive systems, Decker’s exhibition offers camping as a somatic experience that deploys the same sensorial reactions and hunting and gathering skills required of shopping or researching online—all cases of processing in which aesthetics, prosaic impulse, and awe lead the decision of movement. A connective thread is formed between the experience of acquiring the gear and the feeling of camping. Decker proposes the same chemical exchange occurs in both instances, that our source of connection comes from fulfilling tasks rather than fulfilling places. Navigating a big-box hunting and fishing store to source the essentials is not unlike the process of finding the right campground and setting up for the night.

Despite the supposed upgrades, humanity still functions on a primordial operating system. The objects offered are fragmented and abstracted; confusing, mysterious tools instead of intuitive supplemental accessories that one would assume life-assisting technology would be. Decker presents a fading memory, a guidebook. Ever lurking is the primal fear or discomfort that arises once societal comforts are left behind - the sleeping mat is made of steel, and there are birds on the hunt for a larval sleeping bag self.


RYAN DECKER (b. 1997) was raised in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Decker is a sculptor who creates animations, furniture, and paintings using digital tools. His work describes the tension between the digital and the physical experiences of everyday life, focusing on blurring real and virtual experiences as a composite feature of contemporary life. Decker was the 2023 Technology Resident at Pioneer Works. In May 2022, he had a solo show at Superhouse Gallery in Manhattan, New York. He has additionally exhibited with Alcova (Miami, Milan), New Image Art (LA), Mery Gates (NY), SPRING/BREAK (NY), Emma Scully Gallery (NY), Good Naked (NY), and Jonald Dudd (NY). Decker lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.