Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin
Ryan Trecartin

Moving images by Ryan Trecartin will be shown at each Station to Station stop.

Movies — and all dreams born of manipulated images — are indigenous to Southern California, so it makes sense that Texas-born artist Ryan Trecartin has arrived here. Since 2001 Trecartin has lived in half a dozen other American cities and produced a body of work known for its formal intensity: His videos are bright, fast, loud and uncannily attuned to contemporary life, whatever it is in the process of becoming.

Interview by Doug Aitken with Ryan Trecartin

Doug Aitken: Your first exhibition took place in LA in 2006: What do you recall of that experience?

Ryan Trecartin: It was weird. The first time I came to LA I completely hated it, but after I left, I liked it in hindsight. I’ve lived in a lot of cities and there’s always at least 10 awesome people in each of them. LA is like a whole bunch of cities in one place, and you can find the best of a lot of different worlds here. I moved here the first time in 2005, and now I really like it.

DA: It’s an unusual city, but it’s not for everyone, because it’s not a place with open arms, and it doesn’t immediately reveal itself to you. You’re something of a nomad in that you’ve produced work in many different cities. Is that part of your process?

RT: Yes. It’s inspiring to enter a new place with a new group of people — it re-energizes me, and whatever habits I developed on the last project are immediately erased. The vibe of a city serves as a kind of jumping off point, and the place where we are working always seeps into the piece. It’s funny, but in a way, I want to live in all of America at once. Maybe that’s what drives me to work the way I do.

DA: Have movies always been important for you?

RT: I’ve never been really invested in movies. I’m primarily interested in ideas, and figuring out how to articulate them. I think that one reason artists like making movies is because they combine many different mediums that are all happening at once. I remember being a kid and really wanting to make films, but there was no way to do it. Going to art school in 2000 was a big turning point for me, because I found out about iMovie and started editing right away — it was so liberating.

DA: It’s also a complete democratization of tools that were previously the province of the very few. Where do you see this all going?

RT: I think TV, movies, games, visual arts, writing, journalism — everything is going to merge. I don’t know what that will feel like, but I’m excited about it, because we’re getting closer and closer to being able to create at the speed of creative thought. I want there to be no such thing as reality or fantasy; I want it all to just be.

This interview originally appeared in “The Idea of the West” (2010)