In this week’s Super Ego nightlife etc. column , as part of our Video Mutants issue , I handheld display my growing obsession with young artist Ryan Trecartin , who somehow squares club culture and diverts the neon identity parade into a tributary of parodied obnoxion (with Internet hyperquotes). By which I mean, “Damn! I think I just got dissed in a nextdoor dimension, but I like it that way.”
I-BE AREA (Double Jamie, Ramada Omar, and Sally Man Pause)
Ryan – who’s represented by the bigtime Elizabeth Dee Gallery  in NYC – has a total Pro Tools grasp on irreality and its obverse reality, what’s beneath people performing, and his video work combines Mardi Gras parade giddiness (he spent time living in New Orleans), Web 2.0 blank paradise, and head-trip introspection with way incredible about me’s. Electronic ghosts, phased identities, realtime spots and trailers .. the online is performed in trashy afterlife/live/death here, and it wears a sparkling wig. Plus, Ryan does fabulous things with windows. JK/JK
I like to think there’s a deep current of nightlife reference running through feature-length works like A Family Finds Entertainment and I-BE AREA. Although who the hell knows? Ryan’s worked with at least one local beloved club presence, Patrik Sandberg -- of ‘90s-flashback pirate radio show “Cobain in a Coma ” and “drugged out goth shoegaze dream pop party” Spaced, at the Knockout -- who plays space-waif gift-giver Craig Ricky in I-BE AREA and tells me that Ryan’s “holding a mirror up to a generation that lives a significant part of their lives online, in a way that makes fun of but also adores it. Not only that, I can't stop quoting him.”
OK Agreed. And more than guilty above. So, yeah, I freaked and zoned and freaked again when Ryan agreed to answer some art critic avatar agenda questions over one whole e-mail about his digital video mental.
SF Bay Guardian: In I-BE AREA, the Wood Shop is like the most nightmarish gay dance club I've never been to. I dream about it a lot. How did you put together the Wood Shop scenes?
I-BE AREA (WoodShopBoys Ramada Omar and Jamies Band)
Ryan Trecartin: It was a three shoot workout, in a space called The Woodshop Drama Room one of three rooms that make up Jamie’s Area which is a conceptual part-Cyber-hybrid Platform that obeys and functions with in both laws of Physics and virtual-non-linear reality and potential in Web 2.0/ultra-wiki communication malfunction liberation flow, add-on, and debate presentation. The main structure is the character Jamie her self- a total control damage freak with independent log-ins, muse extension people, and live-links. The Wood Shop is a situation stage where pho-male-cyber-gays login to over posted anti-productive decisive message board dead-end faggoting activities. Jamie has a composer status in this scene during another timeslot using her saw and wood dictating with wireless momentum control and influence over her haters at work, while mirroring in Dark Jam Band form, on cell-phone with Ramada Omar in Class Room separated by a closed Window (3 time slots being viewed). The Wood Shop Fags search-out wanting a free channel edge and perform a permanent Window opening on Ramada Omar Freeing it to an independent Multi-tasking shape shifting reality pool. The actual shoot was really fun. It had a script but was the most abstract shoot of the whole movie-lots of improvisations and an everyone talked at the same time, making a don’t be quiet on the set situation. Like planed home video- script-destruction theme over goal. My favorite part is when Solomon (black hair pig-tale mall goth wig) has a brick ready for the Break Down, in cell phone placement and says nothing about someone calling him on his phone an “Said”, over and over like it’s a presidential victory speech with supporters and reason promoting a total nowhere emotion expansion with self eating content, saying… what?—don’t use hotmale log out to log In father fucker.
SFBG: To me, A Family Finds Entertainment is the best hallucinatory gloss on getting ready for a night out, and actually going out, ever to be put on film. Do you go out a lot?
A Family Finds Entertainment (Part 1/5)
Ryan Trecartin: I’m seriously affected by the experiences I have at night. But I actually don’t go out that much in the nightlife way. Things that inspire me the most in nightlife situations are room vibe, agenda spinning, and communication issues. Like how people try to present what they want to show, to experience what they need to feel and act on their contrived or un-expected gut impulses. I love it and I’m not above it.
SFBG: Many of the scenes in your videos seem to be constructed like songs, with calls and responses, bridges, back-up vocals, and repetitions -- and often ending with choruses and even fadeouts. You also deliciously send up the inanities of pop music in a lot of what you do, and in Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me there's explicit references to poetry and song. I wonder if when you're editing your videos you have specific song structures in mind, or if you see each scene as a kind of song?
(Tommy Chat Just E-mailed Me.)
Ryan Trecartin: Yes-I’m completely driven by audio -- hearing the flow and intuition of music structures around people probably excites me more than anything. A good song is always needed. Music kind of explains reality in a way that actually makes sense -it’s crazy. I want to make Scenes that feel like they broke out in a total Music when they didn’t. I think of direction, script, body language, word delivery, set, edit, color, prop, and structure in a kinetic, musical, poetic way—each scene specific to itself and organized with different intentions to flow Ideas. I like when people feel it, but can’t explain it. I totally see my movies as part Musical hybrid, and the dialog works like Poetry—You sit with it, it’s layered in meaning Best to experience more than once cause it shifts in question and reveals hidden parts and connections.
SFBG: I-BE AREA is an awesome fuck you to whatever Web 2.0. The sense I take away is that the demands of virtual community lead to hysteria, that so many virtual selves dissolve the original self into a stream of projected quasi-emotions and non-sequitors. Can you maybe talk about your view of technology and the self? Is there any beauty in being lost in a hall of warped mirrors, or is it all baseless horror?
I-BE AREA (Pasta Locker to JAmie’s Area)
Ryan Trecartin: Totally Everything, I think Technology is helping us see that “sides” and “opposites” are simple boring easy ways out of evolution—I-Be Area is kind of the questions I have right now to this question. We’re creating and participating in a new natural that we know nothing about yet—It’s like discovering fire and aliens at the same time-and not knowing it- I like living and creating in a time of overwhelming transition—I don’t want to believe in answers right now to abstract questions, because they’re always wrong somewhere else.
SFBG: Even though your videos throw all of identity into play, you've created some great characters. Me and my friends are obsessed with Pasta, Shinn, Wendy M-Peggy, MayFlyFLowna, and Amerisha (and we have a whole mythology created around the Bead Store and the Head-PArent). Do your characters spring from you and your collaborators organically, or do you create them beforehand intentionally?
Ryan Trecartin: They do—I write the scripts ahead of time and have a very clear agenda going into a shoot but I think of the people in my life and what they can/will/or want to do. Some people love to act, others love performing, and some people can only be themselves filtered and re-presented, covered, or over stated in an organized action—I direct in real time while performing and shooting everything in list form-- hot potato camera style to create a real-time experience vibe along side of fulfilling the script. The energy starts piling and the performers add tremendously by collaborating on costumes, mentalities, vibes, makeup, even extra sections and props. They twist up the lines by saying what they think I told them to or what they want instead of what I want—It gets really open but starts ultra organized and ends in Hyper organized re-evaluated through editing structure and spinning—editing can feel manipulative and creepy—The shoots can sometimes feel more crazy and out of control fun/damaging than the presented results or the other way around.
I-BE AREA (Adoption Audition Tapes and Head-PArent)
SFBG: What are you up to by way of current or future projects?
Ryan Trecartin: I’m writing a script for a trilogy in three different presentation formats-And looking for more performers= Add: Creative people of any age---If you can sing or dance or something and like performing please write me on my youtube account. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=WianTreetin .