Ryan Trecartin
(Tommy Chat Just E-Mailed Me.), 2006
Video, color, sound, 07:21 min.
Courtesy the artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York


Ryan Trecartin


Invited by Marc Gloede (curator, critic and film historian, Berlin)

»(Tommy Chat Just E-Mailed Me.)« (2006)

When Ryan Trecartin was asked exactly what his film, »(Tommy Chat Just E-mailed Me.)«, was about, he summed it up as a »narrative video short that takes place inside and outside of an e-mail«. This summary may be brief, but it does precisely single out one aspect, which plays a weighty role in all Trecartin’s work: for him the focus of his video narratives does not apply to filmic aspects, like a specific place or to various characters, in a classical sense but above all to that particular circumstance of existing inside and outside of electronic communication.

In his work we still can actually make out apartments, hotel rooms or a house by a lake – gaudy places populated by stridently stylised characters like Beth, Pam, Tammy and Tommy and often personified by Trecartin himself without any regard for male-female gender roles. Nevertheless, these are much rather factors without any real significance.

Our attention repeatedly shifts instead to that level of communication offered by internet forums, chats or email formulas, which are here spoken or staged as luridly gaudy text animations. In this process, the flow of communication is continuously arising, and it is interesting how it does not degenerate into a cacophony but rather smoothes out the differences between places or actions and allows us to glide across various networks’ surfaces, almost like in the internet. In this way, a rhythmic flow arises in the video and often coalesces into a quite mesmerizing whole. With that, Trecartin is drawing nothing less than a portrait of the new, young and digital world - and one to match our times.

Text: Marc Gloede