At the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami, Ryan Trecartin evokes comparison to a wired wizard of id. In "Any Ever," an epic series of videos that make the head spin, the ferociously inventive artist shuffles through identity shifts faster than a Vegas poker dealer.
Trecartin, who has been hailed the "magus of the Internet century," is known for creating frenetic, lavishly colored films that strip-mine our media-saturated, overmerchandized culture. He typically employs the virtual dissonance of the Internet, reality TV, Twitter feeds, and Facebook narcissism to convey notions of how the concept of "self" becomes easily blurred in a society addled by mass media. In Trecartin's attention-commanding films, signifiers of gender, sexuality, race, and the notion of a fixed identity are jumbled through a pop-cultural blender and served as a deliberately puzzling concoction that leaves the viewer reeling from an ADD-inducing onslaught.
The seven videos, which combine for four hours of screening time, are looped, with the audio beamed through padded earphones. The clips were produced in Miami between 2009 and 2010 with the help of Lizzie Fitch, a longtime Trecartin collaborator.
Trecartin, who was in the Magic City for a Moore Space artist residency program at the time and later rented a house for an extended work stay, was also assisted by a troupe of artist friends, writers, performers, child actors, and a Felliniesque cast of characters. This marks the first time the movies have been shown here in their entirety, and Miami itself appears as a leading character.
The movies themselves are a boiling cauldron of chaotic jump cuts, loosely based narrative threads, hyper-manic editing, and an ear-rattling dialogue that sounds like some sort of spastic patois spit out by actors who have been inhaling helium.
A map on a wall at the main entrance provides the narrative bread crumbs to follow the action unfolding in the rabbit holes the artist opens in his videos.
One film features a bewigged and face-painted Trecartin as Wait, the key figure in "Any Ever," as he forsakes a career in favor of an odd job. In another, the viewer is addressed by a very pregnant woman whose belly contracts and expands to eye-popping proportions. In one of the funnier videos, a time traveler visits the past to alter the present and future.
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Look for Trecartin playing a scabrous and besotted collector feeding art to a paper shredder while suggesting in a high-pitched, chipmunk-like warble that every reference to God in the Constitution be replaced with the word Internet.
The artist's videos are available on YouTube and Vimeo, but they lack the impact of experiencing them in a museum setting. Trecartin will be on hand at MOCA August 25 at 7 p.m. to talk about his films. Look for extended review in this week's print edition.
"Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever" Through September 4 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday 1 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.