Ryan Trecartin is widely known for his influential videos, sculptures, and installations. His highly inventive and prescient work has been crucial to understanding the mutability of language and the totalizing effects of technology and social media on subject formation in the twenty-first century.
The current exhibition Re’Search Wait’S comes from the ambitious multi-movie project, Any Ever. Trecartin uses poetic, formal, and structural elaborations of new forms of technology, language narrative, identity, and humanity, to portray an extra-dimensional world that channels the existentia dramas of our own. Any Ever’s core material is the perpetual flux of relationships among characters patterned to form constellations of meaning across the videos.
Structured as a diptych, Any Ever is comprised of seven autonomous but interrelated videos. One part of the diptych is Trillogy Comp which contains three movies: K-CoreaINC.K (section a), Sibling Topics (section a), and P.opular S.ky (section ish). The other part is Re’Search Wait’S (2009-2010), comprising four movies: Ready, Roamie View : History Enhancement, Temp Stop and The Re’Search, which together form multiple narratives within a complex industry predicated on the power of metaphysically evolved market research, where the base commodities are personality traits.
In Ready the character Wait, played by Trecartin, is introduced as the eponymous figure of the series He forsakes a career in favour of a job, the execution of which Trecartin calls a ‘work performance’. The idea of ‘transumerism’, or consumerism driven by experience, is also introduced as a central theme and underlies the plight of the character JJ (also played by Trecartin). Roamie View : History Enhancement reveals the character JJ as a husk of his former self. In the movie he hires Roamie Hood’s (Alison Powell) company to roam backwards through time to research an opportunity for an edit that could alter his future-present. Traversing times and possibilities as if they were physical places, Roamie View : History Enhancement foregoes the importance of grasping who one is in favour of where one is.
Temp Stop, as the title implies, has a disjunctive quality that separates it from the other parts of Re’Search Wait’S. As if emanating from the basement of Any Ever, each scene plays like a hidden epilogue in which the characters appear surreal – in part because they are often so ordinary.
The Re’Search is a ‘tweenaged’ microcosm of the Any Ever series. Functioning as market research collected by the character Wait for the character Y-Ready, the movie doubles as the site of Wait’s vacation. Echoed versions of scenarios from the other movies play out here, and characters either reappear or are replicated as young girls. Characters move in and out of the action while blurring the boundaries of what is inside and outside reality and fiction.
Throughout Re’Search Wait’S, plotlines are not so much convoluted as they are polyphonic and fragmentary, embodying the nature of the Internet itself. There can be multiple viewpoints at any given moment, with text, stock footage and layered camera shots vying for attention, edited with a multiplicity of rhythms. Any synthesis of these elements is up to viewers, determined by where and how they direct their focus.
In uncertain times, some seize power, shaping reality to their own advantage, and the realities they create are often prisons for others. Trecartin reveals which side of the bars his characters are on, as they strive to achieve agency in a world bent on achieving its own triumph. The movies amalgamate existing realities into utterly new structures – alien, but accessible through piercing human assemblies of language, image, and drama, and beneath those edifices, the pains and joys of aspiration.
Ryan Trecartin’s (*1981, Webster, Texas) solo and collaborative work with artist Lizzie Fitch have been the subject of major museum exhibitions in the United States and internationally, including Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin: Whether Line, Fondazione Prada, Milan (2019); Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin, Astrup Fearnly Museet, Oslo (2018); Ryan Trecartin: Site Visit, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014); Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin: Priority Innfield, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2014); Ryan Trecartin/Lizzie Fitch, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011–12); and Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever, which in various iterations traveled to: MoMA P.S. 1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; Istanbul Modern; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The Power Plant, Toronto (2009–10).