Ryan Trecartin & Kristina Lee Podesva
When the time comes you won’t understand the battlefield
Kristina Lee Podesva: Let’s start with some quotes from your film P.opular S.ky (section ish) (2009), which I have pulled to help us formulate a discussion about your work in general. Besides being drawn in by the way the films look, I love the talking, the dialogue in them. Could you discuss the fact that your films are highly scripted?
I want to live in a world where narration is the devil.
Ryan Trecartin: The writing of these movies tends to take four distinct forms, which all un- fold simultaneously. The most obvious one is the written script, the shape of which can change depending on the scene and people involved. At times the script can be fairly traditional in form, with play-by-play, character-assigned dialogue sequences. Other times the script is a list of phrases, a monologue or a poem with no concrete delineations of characters, even if the performative space involves a group of personalities. The script can also be an agenda or a written structure, and the goals of that structure are explored based on topics and suggestions—collaborative, assignment-based translations of a phrase. The sets, props, costumes, hair, and makeup also constitute a type of script that I usually make in collaboration with artist Lizzie Fitch. This narrative space intersects the written script during the shoot and creates an intuitive space for the performers to activate a sort of nuanced improv within the structure of a sentence being performed. The editing, sound design, and effects processes are another phase of writing that reconsiders everything that has been captured on camera as raw supplies. A new script is then created, and the performance of that would be watching and reading the movie as a viewer.
Kristina Lee Podesva: I think your projects, on many levels, have a kind of radical hybridity at work and a resistance to linearity and simplicity and the separation between things. That hybridity is communicated on many levels; for instance, you activate many forms and mediums in the films, which include but are not limited to installation, performance, painting, photography, sculpture, video, digital graphics, and so on. Could you talk about when you started bringing all of these forms and mediums together and why?
Ryan Trecartin: I’ve always put a lot of energy into exploring the momentum of culture and our abilities to understand and translate vibes and sensations. A person is born at a certain point within a cultural momentum, with certain concepts and awarenesses handed to them as givens. It’s almost like each year babies’ presets are updated, and their default ideologies are ingrained into their collective “over it.” I think the collaborative wave of culture can become more important than any author. At the moment in time I was born, it was natural not to recognize boundaries between artistic mediums—as well as ideas, genders, races, and all sorts of nuances that are historically shoved into and understood in terms of categorical containers. I grew up alongside computer adolescence. I think lots of people born at the same time, or anytime after the birth of the home computer, see “-isms” as applications rather than truths and see definitions as filters rather than containers. It’s an exciting privilege to be chucked into the culture flow after so many people have made it possible to be fluid in practice, instead of merely in theory. Rather than talking around the idea which you call “radical hybridity” in theory, we are truly able to demonstrate it in a much more native way than previous generations. The “talk around” is somewhere else now, maybe post-human politics or cyber moral codes, or public-privacy issues. Art school was the first time I ever thought about mediums as autonomous dialogues. And it was fun.
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About this Article
When the time comes you won’t understand the battlefield was first published in Fillip 13 in Spring 2011. For more articles from this issue, see the Table of Contents.
Kristina Lee Podesva is Editor of Fillip.
The views expressed in Fillip are not necessarily those of the editorial board or the Projectile Publishing Society.
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