Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch visit Anderson Ranch | AspenTimes.com

Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch visit Anderson Ranch

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin will speak Thursday at Anderson Ranch.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

Who: Ryan Trecartin & Lizzie Fitch, presented by the Anderson Ranch Summer Series

Where: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village

When: Thursday, July 23, 12:30 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: Register at http://www.andersonranch.org

Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s videos might be called the Snapchat generation’s take on theater of the absurd.

The Los Angeles-based artists, who speak together this afternoon at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s Summer Series, met while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design at the turn of the millennium.

Their films are mostly non-linear, outlandishly playing with notions of identity and media consumption. “Any Ever,” a campy video series from 2010, takes the form of a grotesque reality TV show. Trecartin’s breakthrough work, 2004’s “A Family Finds Entertainment,” is an outrageous coming-out story, steeped in an abrasively self-aware, after-school special cheesiness.

Trecartin and Fitch, both 34, have been crowned by the art world as an artistic voice for millenials and the post-Internet generation.

When Trecartin first started making movies, in high school, there was no Internet streaming. As he recalled in a talk Tuesday at the ranch, his subjects’ relation to the camera back then was much different than it is today, when iPhone cameras are ubiquitous and “pics or it didn’t happen” is something like a generational credo.

“When I would bring out the camera, people were like, ‘Why do you have that? Are you going to narc on us?’” Trecartin said. “Everyone thought the only thing that could come out of it was something negative.”

A short 15 or so years later, in the cultural moment of selfies and overshares, people relate to the camera with an opposite pose.

He and Fitch first made their way into the art world by meeting people on Friendster — the pre-Facebook, pre-MySpace social network — and sending them films in the post, which then started being shown in an art gallery context around the U.S.

These days, Trecartin and Fitch document their work through Instagram,

Exploring how people relate to a camera, and how life is documented on various screens these days, is what drives Trecartin creatively.

“I’m particularly interested in the way life is captured and ways that develop vocabularies around body language and how people have to use a lot of different schools of thought to present an idea in the landscape we’re in right now,” he said.

Trecartin writes his scripts in something like poem form, he said, which is then translated by him and his casts onscreen.

“I see body language and visuals as being an extension of the verbal vocabulary,” he said. “A lot of times everything that’s happening on screen is an extension of he language being expressed and the translation of it.”

Trecartin’s work reflects the 21st century unmooring of social norms and binary sexuality. He characterized it Tuesday as being in conversation with today’s gender politics and increasingly varied categories of sexual identity.

“In some sense it’s scary to people because every community has its own parameters,” he said.

The format for his work is fluid. It’s not art that has to hang on a white wall in a museum. His films might be seen on the web, in a theater, or in a gallery that’s been transformed into an environment to suits the content (as Trecartin and Fitch did at the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” Triennial in 2009).

“Lizzie and I have spent a lot of time thinking about context with the movies in particular,” he explained. “They’re native to different formats and if you watch it online or in a movie theater versus this (gallery setting) it brings out different aspects of how you read the narrative.”

Trecartin and Fitch are currently experimenting with developing video games as art and they recently made a film using several drones simultaneously shooting a single scene.

“I like to think of platforms as puzzles,” he said.