Update (1/6/2021): Nicole de Haay, a spokesperson for the CIA, reached out to PAPER denying that Ryder Ripps had any involvement in their website's updated look. "As CIA's new website states, we're looking for people from all backgrounds and walks of life to work at CIA, but this individual had absolutely nothing to do with our website redesign," Haay said.
When reached for comment, Ripps gave PAPER the following statement:
"Social online platforms are games that are played within the attention economy – authorship and sincerity are murky as is. Before I put it in my portfolio, people on twitter were already asserting that I had made the CIA's rebranding, why not take their fantasy further and say I made it? It fits into the subject matter and type of art i'm interested in – objective vs emotional thinking in the age of fake news, sensationalism, audiences creating their own internalized narratives (like how we would rather spend hours creating conspiracy theories by stringing tweets together than watch a real scripted movie while they effectively stimulate the mind the same way and both are fake). The murkiness of authorship online and living/breathing/evolving art that involves audience participation, existing within our meta-reality – as a reflection of it. Our reality is intensely mediated through written narrative, I would like to illuminate the ease at which narrative can be controlled and invented online – which should not be confused with reality, but rather as a new type of stage and form of scriptwriting."
"I don't understand why people who hate the CIA are upset about the branding anyways, it's absolutely terrible, would they rather it be good? lol... I didn't realize so many people would be so gullible, but I should never underestimate people's desire to believe a good story and some in this case, have found the source of their pain."
Like Steve Buscemi rolling up to a group of teens with a skateboard and backwards baseball cap, the CIA rolled out its brand new redesigned logo yesterday that looked less like the crest of a clandestine government agency and more like it came off a flyer for a weekday minimal techno rave at Panorama Bar. Twitter, naturally, had a field day and unleashed a deluge of memes with the highest possible security clearance as a result.
Related | Everyone's Memeing the New CIA Logo
Many were quick to clock the CIA rebrand as more befitting of a venture capital-backed Silicon Valley startup disrupting the office supplies industry with wifi-enabled staplers or a vaguely appropriative underground music/streetwear collective angling for an NTS show, but upon further digging it's actually a pretty fair comparison.
Since the CIA unveiled their new heavily aesthetic logo, designer, Ryder Ripps, has come forward to claim credit for the intelligence agency's rebrand. Ripps uploaded images of the project to his Instagram portfolio, implying that he was the person responsible for transforming the CIA's web presence into an Urban Outfitters graphic tee. The post was briefly taken down after word started to spread that Ripps was responsible, but resurfaced with the hashtags "#operationattentioneconomy" and "#operationvirtuesignal" in what is presumably a tongue-in-cheek nod to the viral backlash.
It is unclear as to whether or not this is one big troll by Ripps or not, but Ripps has been previously responsible for the branding of Soylent, VFILES and 88Rising, in addition to crafting campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Gucci and Pornhub. Ripps has also notably worked with Kanye West on the ill-fated Yandhi album campaign, and most recently designed the cover and campaign for Grimes' Miss_Anthropocene (which, on an unrelated note, was recently replaced with a piece the musician initially commissioned for the record).
Ripps has since made his Twitter account private, though that hasn't stopped much.
ryder ripps rebranding the CIA feels like the logical endpoint of accelerationism as an aesthetic posture in so muc… https://t.co/2ZHZCSca9n— Andy Cush (@Andy Cush)1609865061.0
https://t.co/T1pRmNgzTU— Mat Dryhurst (@Mat Dryhurst)1609868424.0
NEW COMMISSIONED WORK FOR @FBI. — CO-PRODUCTION: @virgilabloh VFX STUDIO: @dneg CONCEPT DESIGN: @billieeilish S… https://t.co/OXAY60kTfH— Iglꙩꙩghost (@Iglꙩꙩghost)1609871324.0
Legit tho we see your icons and our lawyers will be in touch @FBI https://t.co/MSCwhsoO0n— Kai Whiston (@Kai Whiston)1609872567.0
get to work, ryder ripps! https://t.co/o14lsnA2Am— SARAH SQUIRM (@SARAH SQUIRM)1609866820.0
can't believe ryder ripps made the CIA's FOIA request form absolutely unreadable https://t.co/6kqkOGrjIv— maddy varner (@maddy varner)1609872996.0
me asking a question I already knew the answer to: https://t.co/vcrXxFF85c— americ*n badass (@americ*n badass)1609873785.0
https://t.co/afcvLRyJRh— MindofIncellectuals2 🍥 (@MindofIncellectuals2 🍥)1609878043.0
Photo via CIA