Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin, Trill-ogy Comp, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Ryan Trecartin, Trill-ogy Comp, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Ryan Trecartin (b.1981, USA) is at the forefront of a generation of artists using video and digital media to new aesthetic and critical ends. His work borrows from and expertly manipulates the languages and forms of popular culture to create densely layered video narratives presented within highly sculptural and theatrical settings.

Presented in the UK for the first time as part of TouchedTrill-ogy Comp (2009) comprised three works: K-CoreaI NC.K (section a)Sibling Topics (section a), and P.opular (section ish). Featuring a cast of family and friends (in particular long-time collaborator Lizzie Fitch) and the artist himself, these works were characterised by the feverishly high-pitched, fast-paced style and the constant negotiation of notions of narrative, gender and belonging. Their dominant themes revolved around consumerism, youth culture and the complete fragmentation of identity in a world where personae is continuously multiplied and erased, downloaded and over-written.

The films radiated the kind of wired energy you might feel after a long night surfing the net, and were shaped by the characteristics and aesthetics of the Internet. While each component part was tediously mass-produced, made up of Ikea furniture and TV show one-liners, the possibilities this world presented lied in the non-formulaic. Nothing was fixed, but everything was always re-calibrating into new forms. There was no single point of view. Characters addressed themselves in the second and third person. Nor was there a singular sense of self. Objects and persons merged, transmogrify and becoming one another. Identity was performed in situ, as much defined by the scenography as by any inherent character traits.

For  Touched, the films were presented as immersive installations in the sprawling, labyrinthine basement of a former hardware store (the building, said to have the longest shop front in Britain, runs almost the entire length of a street). Moving through and between the interconnected rooms, viewers became part of the artist’s transitional world.

Trill-ogy Comp didn’t so much ‘touch’ in the gentle sense as it pulled you in, shook you up, utterly absorbed you, and then sat you down, reeling. The works were visually, aurally and emotionally assaulting, leaving our senses disrupted and our thought processes opened to new perspectives on the world. 

Ryan Trecartin at Liverpool Biennial 2010 

Trill-ogy Comp , 2009  
HD Video, mixed-media installation, 33 mins 3 secs  
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street