Do you know who Ryan Trecartin is? You better. He’s making the wildest and best videos to be found online or in a gallery anywhere. This piece is about to open with six others to form an epic at the Museum of Modern Art P.S.1 in New York. It’s a warped and wicked view of corporate career life and behavior as practiced by characters whom I suspect would not even want to be considered normal. They spout company lingo and get it all twisted back inside of itself until it starts to sound like perfect sense and is just as valid as what you hear daily in the offices of any company. Trecartin is onto the fact that our economy has failed and millions of people are out of work because their jobs were bullshit to begin with. At minimum, 75% of jobs in corporate America are completely unnecessary. They are a busy-work scam based on particular rhythms and mannerisms and they produce nothing at all. The characters in this video revel in their uselessness. They gloat, the whine, they insult, they mock. They are amped up to be as irritating as possible. Their voices grate like demented cartoon characters. These videos are like the visions of a child computer in orbit that scans human beings and then tries to reproduce them but gets it wrong. These are digital creatures more than they are actual human characters.
Not to mention the fact that Trecartin’s intentionally clumsy and cheeseball imagery is simply gorgeous. The videos are extremely deceptive. They are so freely expressive as to be nearly psychotic. But always just enough under control to imply meanings with great subtlety. Right now these films of Ryan Trecartin represent the avant-garde’s leading edge.
Filmmakers Fred L’Epee and Dimitra Pouliopoulou deal with the emotions of video. Their short films are visual poems in the most real sense. I like the way they flirt with the techniques of celluloid while remaining firmly anchored in video. The two things, rather than cancelling each other, work together to offer a filmmaker more tools for opening eyes and insisting that people fully observe. This kind of film dances between reality and abstraction. The ships are placed so that they traverse a line between light and dark, high and low, space and time.
While visiting Your Daily Cartoon, I watched an animated film by Hungarian painter György Kovásznai. I liked the calm mishmash of drawing styles and quiet humor. The 1965 film is called Mesék a m?veszet világából (Tales From the World of Art). It has no subtitles but is pretty easy to follow, taking a bemused look at several kinds of art. The first part is an action movie, the second is a theatrical piece, the third is a piano recital.
This one is called Várakozni jó (Waiting for Good). It’s about a traffic jam with a truck that suddenly opens its back doors and explodes into a 1969 rock & roll jam. The wild sketchy ever-changing animation style is more psychedelic than most commercialized sixties psychedelia could ever be.
This one is Gitáros fiú a régi képtárban (Boy Guitarist of the Old Hits) from 1964. It’s simply a guitarist playing and dancing his way through artworks by old masters presented in a very avant-garde fashion. Understanding the art is one thing, but the person who can truly enjoy it is far ahead in the game.
Canadian experimental filmmaker Heidi Phillips made this little ghost story film that could almost as easily be called a memory film. Mike Everleth over at Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film has some good comments in his review of the film.
Artist Istvan Horkay made this strangely mesmerizing film that combines Alice in Wonderland, the elephant man, 19th century theater, silent film, modern computer graphics, children’s illustration and digital readouts. There are three films going on at the same time in a beautiful triptych.
Shot with a Nokia N8 mobile phone, Anders Weberg’s film is multi-layered trip through a night dreamscape. He seems to form landscapes of diffused glowing light.