With his new exhibition opening at MoMa today, the influential US-based artist and filmmaker reveals to us why L.A. feels extra-dimensional
'You can do anything you want', says Ryan Trecartin of Los Angeles and the current state of its art scene. The same might be said of him, one of the most influential young artists working and showing today and, in fact, the generations that he represents visually in his work, admirers and critics. It's a generation that is full of dreams and emotions, like Trecartin's work, with evolutions of identity and the visuals that have and continue to build the culture in which we wake everyday.
The New York premiere of Trecartin's ‘Any Ever’, the artist’s 2007-2010 body of work, premieres today at MoMA PS1 in New York. Produced in Miami with frequent collaborator Lizzie Fitch and structured as a diptych, it consists of seven films that are conceived in two parts, one consisting of a quartet, 'Re'Search Wait'S' and the trilogy, 'Trill-ogy Comp'. Connected spatially and filling seven galleries that house projections of these seven films, the exhibition can become a kind of personal edit for the viewer. In fact, they can do, or feel, whatever they want.
Dazed Digital: How do you feel about the LA art scene at the moment? Who in America do you feel has the most enticing scene?
Ryan Trecartin: LA feels extra-dimensional and expansive, it radiates in such a non-time way that it almost feels asleep or invisible. Like most cities in America, I think what makes it magical is its proximity to America as a concept...how it contributes to our psychological landscapes. People everywhere are obviously creating and communicating in a much more networked and connective state than they did before the 2000s. I don’t think scenes can really be located geographically, or even defined without accepting a hugely reductive process. It’s more like certain cities represent a grounding point for shared qualities--qualities one can participate in no matter where they live. I haven't lived in Los Angeles for very long but I feel like it promotes a kind of post-conceptual promiscuity that in form and function supports the exciting potentials in free thinking, (categorical failure). You can do anything you want.
DD: What is the mood and goal of the exhibition?
Ryan Trecartin: ;) I'm not sure it’s healthy to try and answer this question. Instructions are embedded in the content, like an inverted interface where linguistics inform expectations and function (moods and goals are constantly shifting within the work). The movies are meant to be actively “read”, reading being a naturally subjective act that editorializes the information one gleans from experiences. This kind of reading exists mutually with writing. The project and the exhibition are both called Any Ever, and that title licenses a lot of agency to the viewer in terms of conceptual framing. The viewer navigates the seven rooms, piecing together a personal edit of a potential whole designed around a non-center rather than a linear progression of spaces or ideas.
DD: I understand that your wish would be to develop software to make the videos more interactive. How do you think video can be more interactive, in general, but also in your work?
Ryan Trecartin: I expect all forms of media to eventually combine into an expansively fluid interactive state. As we move in that direction, there are tons of exciting opportunities for merging mediums, technologies, structures, and intentions. Our current technology already has the potential to transform movie making; once 360 degree 3D cameras are available, the role of the camera will go through a capture collapse--I think the whole concept of how audiovisual material is captured will break down and most of the directing will happen afterwards, during the editing, since editors will have unlimited access to time and compositions of a space. I’m also interested in the potential for movies to exist as data sets, with software structures that give the viewer a real sense of agency in the editorialization of the content. I think the relationship between movies and games is clearly getting stronger and stronger, too. I’d love to take Any Ever and time code every word to create an app that would allow you to search and navigate the work via typing.
DD: Tell me about this world you enter when you work with Lizzie Fitch?
Ryan Trecartin: I mostly always work with Lizzie Fitch... we entered that back in 2001 and have never really come out of it. Collaboration activates an accelerated creative state for us. We fill in each other’s “gaps” really well--it’s an intense complimentary relationship of mutual respect, admiration, and constant surprise. After ten years, she still pulls out the most unexpected stuff, and yet we're finishing each others sentences--and not just when we're talking, but as we're making.
DD: When the camera is off and you are stepping out of your character, what do you miss most about embodying the character and the reality in which they live?
Ryan Trecartin: The performance is not live; everything is performed for the edit--performed to become live through mediation. During the shoot I have to partition my brain to act as pre-editor + performer/actor + director + writer, and so I avoid a performer's total "embodiment" of the character in order to remain fluid. What I personally miss most after completing a movie is the freedom of seemingly infinite constructive options that one feels while deep in the editing process and in the chosen software. I miss feeling like I can act simultaneously, and be a multiplicity of free agents out side the dimension of captured/cropped time. Editing makes you extremely aware of the possibility, that history is just as malleable, and creative, and uncertain as the future. The viewer navigates the seven rooms, piecing together a personal edit of a potential whole designed around a non-center rather than a linear progression of spaces or ideas.
Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever – MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, New York; 19 June – 3 September 2011