Ryan Trecartin’s latest big project is riverthe.net, an online website in which anonymous users can upload 10 second video clips and are asked to provide them with a maximum of three descriptive tags. The videos are then incorporated into the site’s larger stream of moving images, whose narrative “flow” is dictated solely by these tags. Trecartin collaborated with Tumblr founder David Karp on this project, which will be exhibited as part of the New Museum’s upcoming exhibition Free opening this Wednesday in New York. Trecartin debuted the project on Art Fag City earlier this month, and in conjunction with that Paddy Johnson conducted a lengthy and really fascinating interview with Trecartin about riverthe.net and his recent work in general. Go there for an in-depth take on the project and how it very well could change the (internet) world. (No, seriously, it could).
I feel compelled to note, however, that I’ve been trying to watch riverthe.net without much success over the past few days. For me, the experience can only be described as an exercise in frustration and seriously, seriously delayed gratification minus the gratification. The “flow” of this river is mega-choppy, I get maybe two seconds of video and 10-15 seconds of freeze-frame, and so on throughout the entire experience. From reading Trecartin’s interview with Johnson, I have to assume that a chopped-up subversion of narrative pleasure is not at all what Trecartin and Karp are going for. But that’s been my experience of the project so far, and though I am a numbskull when it comes to tech stuff I know I have a pretty good computer (latest type of iMac with the big screen, and our house has WiFi). So, you know, my setup, which I’m very lucky to have, is not good enough to view this project. Is it because the project itself needs fixin’ on the back end, or because I need even better equipment than that of the average user to view it the way it was intended? Um, if that’s the case – that’s not cool, for all the obvious reasons.
However, if we give the project the benefit of the doubt and assume that the choppiness is just par for the internet course, or better yet, something fixable that will soon be addressed, there’s a lot of interesting food for thought in what Karp and Trecartin are experimenting with here. I’m particularly interested in the idea of riverthe.net as a type of crowd-sourced movie that does away with interface and textual prompts in favor of ideas expressed “without using words,” as Trecartin explained during his conversation with Johnson. And it does so partly by doing away with curation altogether–anyone can upload video material, and that material doesn’t need to be voted up or down or “liked” or “favorited” or any of that type of crowd-sourced curation, in order to gain access or greater visibility within the overall stream. I like that.
Beyond these comments, I’m reserving judgment to see how riverthe.net takes off as greater numbers of people learn about it and start uploading more content to the site. I’m doing my little part by blogging about it here. Go check out the site for yourself and maybe upload something too–this is a project that definitely needs the contributions of the crowd in order to reach its true potential.
Lots of Ryan Trecartin action happening ’round these parts tonight and tomorrow night. First up, Trecartin’s artist’s talk at the School of the Art Institute on Wednesday (tonight). The following Thursday night at 6pm SAIC’s Conversations at the Edge series screens two pieces from Trecartin’s latest project, Trill-ogy Comp (2009-10): Sibling Topics (Section A) (2009) and P.opular S.ky (section ish) (2009). Trecartin will introduce the films that will be screened. Full details on both events below:
Ryan Trecartin – Visiting Artists Lecture
Wednesday, April 14, 6:00 p.m. – Artist Talk (FREE admission)
SAIC Columbus Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Dr.
“Both in form and in function, Ryan Trecartin’s video practice advances understandings of post-millennial technology, narrative, and identity, while also propelling these matters as expressive mediums. His work depicts worlds where consumer culture and interactive systems are amplified to absurd or nihilistic proportions and characters circuitously strive to find agency and meaning in their lives. The combination of assaultive, nearly impenetrable avant-garde logics and equally outlandish virtuoso uses of color, form, drama, and montage produces a sublime, stream-of-consciousness effect that feels bewilderingly true to life” (Kevin McGarry).
Ryan Trecartin is the recipient of the first Jack Wolgin Prize in the Fine Arts (2009), presented by Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. He has had solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, among others. Organized by the Visiting Artists Program and Conversations at the Edge, in this special two-evening presentation, Trecartin will present selections from his newest body of work, Trill-ogy Comp (2009-10): K-Corea INC. K (Section A), Sibling Topics (Section A), and P.opular S.ky (section ish).
Screening admission $10 general public, $7 students, $5 members, $4 Art Institute of Chicago staff and SAIC faculty, staff, and students. Advance tickets available at GSFC box office or via Ticketmaster.
Ryan Trecartin: Conversations at the Edge
Thursday, April 15, 6:00 p.m. – Screening
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.
This evening, as part of a special two-part presentation organized by the Visiting Artists Program and Conversations at the Edge, Trecartin will introduce two pieces from his latest project, Trill-ogy Comp (2009-10): Sibling Topics (Section A) (2009) and P.opular S.ky (section ish) (2009). Ryan Trecartin, 2009, USA, HDCAM video, ca. 90 min.
CATE is organized by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Film, Video, and New Media in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.
Programs take place Thursdays at 6pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State / Chicago, IL / 312-846-2600), unless otherwise noted.
The School of the Art Institute kicks off its current Visiting Artists Program with a lecture by Saya Woolfalk tomorrow, Tuesday February 2nd, at 6:00pm. From the Visiting Artist’s Program website:
SAIC alumna Saya Woolfalk (MFA 2004) will present her ongoing project No Place, a multimedia, fictional future that reworks tropes of sexual, racial, and gender difference. The characters and stories in Woolfalk’s constructed reality evoke travel narratives, science fiction, and the rhetoric of anthropology to investigate human possibilities (and impossibilities). Through diverse forms of installation, video, painting, drawing, performance, and sound, she reflects on human life and its future through configurations of biology, sociality, and the environment. Woolfalk’s selected exhibitions include PS1/MoMA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; and Momenta Art. She has been an artist in residence at Skowhegan, Yaddo, Sculpture Space, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Presented in collaboration with SAIC Alumni Relations.
Want to bone up on Woolfalk’s work prior to the lecture? Here are some links to get you started:
Saya Woolfalk Artist’s Page at Zg Gallery, Chicago
Saya Woolfalk Performs No Place: A Ritual of the Empathic at Performa 09
Woolfalk’s lecture will be held at the SAIC Columbus Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Drive.
This round of VAP lectures is especially strong. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for these upcoming SAIC Visiting Artist Program lectures (click here for further details):
Doug Aitken, Monday, February 22nd, 6pm
Amy Franceschini, Thursday, March 11, 6pm
Doris Salcedo, Monday, March 15, 6pm
Matt Keegan, Tuesday, April 6, 6pm
Ryan Trecartin, Wednesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 15 at 6pm