Mutant spawn of multimedia artist Ryan Trecartin and Tumblr founder David Karp, riverofthe.net is a living collage and a strange new species of found-footage détournement. Consisting of little more than a forever-reloading splash page, the site is a randomly redirected flow of brief video snippets collected and contorted within the bowels of the Web. This aggregate “river” is fed by a pool of clips uploaded by the site’s visitors—and Trecartin himself. For those unfamiliar with the artist’s hyperbolic video work, just imagine a shrapnel cloud of teenage webcast deliria, live-streamed from some paralinguistic cultural hive-mind—at the speed of meth. Even with the River’s steady 10-second montage metronome and diverse source materials, Trecartin’s disquieting sensibility is all-pervasive.
A random stream might include anything from a home-movie boat trip, a slumber party lip-synching session, and a Home Shopping Network display, to amateur porn followed by beguiling Robert Duvall close-ups. Webcam aesthetics (pixelated bedrooms, teenaged mugging) form a leitmotif, amplified by Trecartin’s own Kabuki contributions. But the distinct status, origin, or identity of any given clip is subsumed by the schizophrenic contagion of the procession itself. If the scavenged celluloid assemblages of Craig Baldwin or Luther Price suggest the maniacal monumentality of Frankenstein’s monster, Trecartin and Karp’s intervention recalls a zombie horde: driven indiscriminately onward, assimilating by infection, and poised to eat your brain.
Go to riverofthe.net.
© 2011 by The Film Society of Lincoln Center