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Retrospective BEN RUSSEL

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"psychedelic ethnography" - a practice whose aim is a knowledge of the Self/self, a movement towards understanding in which the trip is both the means and the end."

 

 BEN RUSSELL on the Trypps series
"Using a fabricated Old English word as its guiding principle, this ongoing series of (mostly) 16mm films is conceptually organized around the possible meanings that its title elicits - physical voyages, psychedelic journeys, and a phenomenological experience of the world. Begun in 2005 in a somewhat vain attempt to hold cinema up as a mirror to the live and fully embodied reception of the crazy noise music scene in Providence, Rhode Island, the TRYPPS films quickly expanded their formal and critical language to include the various poles of action painting, avant-garde cinema, portraiture, stand-up comedy, global capitalism, and trance-dance a lá Jean Rouch. While the form of these works varies radically from one to the next, when taken as a whole they can be seen to enunciate what their maker calls "psychedelic ethnography" - a practice whose aim is a knowledge of the Self/self, a movement towards understanding in which the trip is both the means and the end."

PROGRAMME IM DETAIL

23. November, 2012, 20:00 Uhr, Stadtkino Villach
in Anwesenheit des Regisseurs

 

Black and White Trypps Number One
6:30, 16mm, B/W, silent, 2005

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A psychedelic op-art (optical art, visual art that makes use of optical illusions) film that references the traditions of hand-painted Avant-Garde cinema by replacing it with something entirely different. Hypnosis is imminent.

"...explosions, construction. Holocausts. Primordial ooze, modern civilization. Ages and seconds. Floating heads circle kaleidoscopic bursts of shiny beads. Everything everywhere twists, forces through, transforms into, overlaps everything else. Seashells, snow, jewels, static, planets, mitochondria, trash, leaves. Rings, flowers, stars, hair, ghosts, comets, cartoons, demons. Icebubblesinstrumentscatsmarblestwigsfiref liespinwheelsins ectscraters. Buzzing. Reeling.... .flfkkkkk ################# ############### ############ #### ########### ### ### ###### # ######################## ###### Overkill. Birth/ Death. Moment by moment, symmetrical—organized like geometry, like Muslim rugs, like math."
– JT Rogstad, The International Exposition (TIE)

 

Black and White Trypps Number Two
8:00, 16mm, B/W, silent, 2006

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The Forest Inside Your Mind. Revealed.

"Ben Russell continues his initial impulse for the series, the exploration of "naturally-derived psychedelia", with this cadenced phantasmagoria of negative imagery and negative space. The tendrils of sharp white trees become osseous arteries against the black void of the sky. The spiraling spine of a massive tree collides against a spanning pan of a branch twined into two through a mirroring effect. Representation morphs into abstraction as the film becomes a study in density and fearful symmetry in the forest of sight. By film's end, the arboreal is left far behind as the film strip becomes an engulfing, vertiginous maw."
– Chris Stults, Viennale 2009

 

Black and White Trypps Number Three
12:00, 35mm, color, sound, 2007

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A Sweaty Glimpse Into the Sublime.
The third part in a series of films dealing with naturally-derived psychedelia. Shot during a performance by Rhode Island noise band Lightning Bolt, this film documents the transformation of a rock audience's collective freak-out into a trance ritual of the highest spiritual order.

"...we return to the models of Caravaggio or Garrel - bodies effectively transformed into islands of individual gestures and expressions via a spotlight and lingering camera, before the film cryptically bends upon itself: henceforth the image (through slow-motion effect) and sound (through Joseph Grimm's spacey drones) conspire to directly invoke the spectator into the raptures."
– Mubarak Ali, Supposed Aura

 

Black and White Trypps Number Four
10:30, 16mm, B/W, sound, 2008

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Using a 35mm strip of motion picture slug featuring the recently deceased American comedian Richard Pryor, this extended Rorschach assault on the eyes moves out of a flickering chaos created by incompatible film gauges into a punchline involving historically incompatible racial stereotypes.

"Divisible stand up comedy from beyond the grave, adjust your set, rabbits ears tuned to the Bardo Plane."
– Mark McElhatten, Rotterdam International Film Festival

 

Trypps #5 (Dubai)
3:00, 16mm, silent, 2008

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A short treatise on the semiotics of capital, happiness, and phenomenology under the flickering neon of global capitalism.

"A radically restricted camera was similarly fixed on half of a neon sign in Ben Russell's Trypps #5 (Dubai) (2008), which displayed the letters "APP" and only half of a "Y" in an erratic, discontinuous pulse. If the mention of Dubai conjures a cosmopolitan skyline, Russell renounces the possibility of seeing even a single street. As Mark McElhatten writes in the program notes, "Happiness is always, incomplete," and here, in a critique that Debord may have particularly appreciated, it's a brightly colored sign for a shop that promises everything but sells nothing."
– Genevie Yu, Reverse Shot

"APP APPAP APP APAPPAP APP APP APAPPAPAPPAP APPAP APP"
– Ben Russell

 

Trypps #6 (Malobi)
12:00, 16mm, 2009

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"From the Maroon village of Malobi in Suriname, South America, this single-take film offers a strikingly contemporary take on a Jean Rouch classic. It's Halloween at the Equator, Andrei Tarkovsky for the jungle set."
– Ben Russell

 

Trypps #7 (Badlands)
10:00, Super16mm, 2010

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"Trypps #7 (Badlands) charts, through an intimate long-take, a young woman's LSD trip in the Badlands National Park before descending into a psychedelic, formal abstraction of the expansive desert landscape. Concerned with notions of the romantic sublime, phenomenological experience, and secular spiritualism, the work continues Russell's unique investigation into the possibilities of cinema as a site for transcendence."
– Michael Green, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

 

River Rites
11:30, Super16mm (projected digitally), 2011

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"Trance dance and water implosion, a kino-line drawn between secular freak-outs and religious phenomena. Filmed in a single take at a sacred site on the Upper Suriname River, the minor secrets of a Saramaccan animist everyday are revealed as time itself is undone. Rites are the new Trypps - embodiment is our eternal everything."
Ben Russell

"Animists are people who recognise that the world is full of persons, some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others."
– Graham Harvey, Animism

 

Ben Russell is a media artist and curator whose films, installations, and performances foster a deep engagement with the history and semiotics of the moving image. He has had solo screenings and exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the Wexner Center for the Arts, threewalls and the Museum of Modern Art. A 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship and 2010 FIPRESCI award recipient, Ben began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island, was co-director of the artist-run space BEN RUSSELL in Chicago, IL and performs in a double-drum trio called BEAST. He currently resides in Paris, France.