Ceal Floyer at Esther Schipper

by Travis Jeppesen on November 25, 2015

“Ceal Floyer is a savvy swayer, a maven cracker of aesthetic one-liners that burn with a sustained snap.”

A review of Ceal Floyer’s exhibition at Esther Schipper, Berlin, is now online at Artforum.

Car/Holly Herndon

by Travis Jeppesen on November 23, 2015



Side One

Robotic feedback fuzz, the language of malfunction. Suction-feeder leads into ambulate bliss bog, now I let the machine drownscrape me forward. Forward, foreword: the arm is a tomato. The waves of yr brain get scrambled toilet-like, if the toilet could electrocute you. I don’t want to live in a world with verbs. Do you? Crypto-bionic brainfuck warrior. An underlying suction radio fuzz, tuning the radio. “literally sleeping at the office.” A brand new trivia question. “This summer I will be in a car accident.” Head collides with windshield, death comes so fast. Joke about the obsolescence of technology: this is a cassette tape. Why don’t you join the twenty-first century already?

Who wants to be a part of the scanner ray. So nefarious, reading you. When it stops, to be a part. No mutant commando, no knowledge. No way to stop what has already taken place, the transcription as it guides by and by.

Chorus of automatic windows going down. Car soundtrack.

Then there are these dense vibratory waves that waver, their tones don’t stay steady, nothing is guiding. It is like to be a part of things. Thin electronic interference perhaps, someone’s car. This is just density, the body. No rhythms, no pop references, except what accidentally pops up when tuning the radio – the unbearability of (g)listening.

A siren in the distance as monotones fuzzed-out through distortion are intoned for an uncomfortably long duration. But the siren passes you by. The authorities not coming to save you. Is this horror movie soundtrack? I am thinking how I can be this, a human wristwatch.

Jolt and death can alike be such sexiness, no there is no body (a joke!) This is music that fuzzes out your head, wait are you dead yet. Music for a corpse perhaps, to be played alongside him in the grave. The suctionality of overbearing.

Matte-face? No. At least not ratte race! But as the suction of yr face might prove to be-go, oh all willilly. Eyebrow, a butterfly molesting yr lashes. As the souptones kick in. And the fins of variability know a knowledge that is pre-anniversary memories. Crinkle in the softness as the gege kicks yr spine. Suddenly a neckbrace might make the equation get unremolested. If only I could be myself to you.

Bass undertone kicks in no cut that out. Like another room. Still the scratch-crinkle that says this is darkness, no temporality. Nothing to be measured by. That is not a sin for me, really.

Bathroom toxins in that bass. The fundamability of a helicoptered silence. Stray to ray-in the radiance of that battled vestibule. Matte-face doesn’t want shit for a toxin. Matte-face only wants what’s breath to be the pure upon the horizon. Every breath that’s pure is one that divorces itself from toxin. I am ugly and about it, to be you is to frame me-lessness beyond loath-buttery.

The notes of dryness massage yr ears. Oh fuck, a thinness. Little breath synthesized through a repetition device called maverick insignia. That is what I cane here for. I mean a violence. Something with nails to live by. Through me.


Side Two

Starts with a breath but goes away real fast, kind of like after a car accident. The buzzing of cars on electronic night highway going on all around us. We don’t want to have “elements,” epiphanies of belonging. We belong in our units, from which we cannot mustn’t separate ourselves.

An aerial aether.

True, the gradual fade in, the crunch of the tires at arrival time. Within the exhaust pipe, low baritone emitted – see, play this vehicle like an organ (!?) The merveillance of projection, when to be arrived at implies some sort of implicit machinal fandangling into a spot. You know my name, creature. I only act out in order to fathom the pause, to create some confusional missteps on the way to the party. The bubbles might even have a seaness to them. Tap on car door to get re-let inside, you are in a dangerous hood, that McDonald’s just don’t feel right. You’re picking at the lid of the gas cap but you can’t remove it it is stuck oh fuck. Bugs crawling on me at a time I feel I didn’t deserve it. All the people spilling into my inbox this morning. Get in a car and drive away from them. I hear the sound of the air. A rattling goes about it. This music meant to drive a person insane while driving a car; the rain on the windshield; a noble pursuit.

Open the car windows up to the nature forces that are going to destroy you anyway, come on, let’s let outside get inside for once, it is sexier that way: sprinklers on the yawn, the scifi encounter that is the car wash. Car is a type of engulfment, the different scapes you traverse could actually be different planets. The need to get past then, there – what’s that – an artificial scream? I don’t even know where I am anymore. Morphs into a filterfuck. A slight beam.

The cars going past you that you have nothing to do with. Some dilapidated space age vehicle starting up – thinking it might throw you. Mostly it is lonely, car. Going from one place to the next, it is a bit like a mechanical failure to ontologicalize upon the right carpet. And now the sounds of the truck gods that will take you up to heaven. Yes – always to be there, waiting.

My ride just arrive and then something weird happened. Bubbles of melancholy spilled out of her car. What I wonder is if the safer zone dialect I’ve developed has any key-in to the numericals being shoplisted right off that value site. Crush bubble mechanics are crescendoing in yr ear as you hear this, you are in yr car, going going going, do you even know where it is you are going anymore, I don’t. Hear in the machine’s cruel whisperings a message from god. He wants us to turn off and just be for a little while, but so many processes are happening at once here. A cigar in my car, we are covered in smoke. You unseen a person that may soon get invited somewhere. You can’t drive you want the car so bad. Car envy, like diamonds. The thing that boxes us in, crashes us. Sexy in our onward coming. And when in another direction comes right up to ours on an otherwise empty highway road. Oh the engines roar, they are mechanical lions. When I get inside that animal, I will be it (a separate answer?) A zone cushes out the flagrancy of our tush loan. See you in the next blockbuster that needs you to explode.





by Travis Jeppesen on November 9, 2015

A review of Jia’s Berlin solo exhibition at Artforum.

Site, Specific, Objects

by Travis Jeppesen on October 22, 2015

A review of Site, Specific, Objects at Galerija Gregor Podnar, at Artforum.

Moving Image: on Ryan Trecartin

by Travis Jeppesen on October 7, 2015

My essay, “Exploding the Frame: Ryan Trecartin’s Bad Language,” appears in the new anthology Moving Image edited by Omar Kholeif, part of the “Documents of Contemporary Art” series from Whitechapel Gallery.

The essay can also be read below.

Trecartin 2

The RealityTV script is, by now, formulaic, easy enough to decode by nearly anyone. It’s been around for a generation, the youngest among us has known no other function of television other than constructing and presenting a mediated form of reality. Ryan Trecartin’s work, and in particular his film I-Be Area, is both an amplification and distortion of that script. RealityTV changes our whole perception of reality; reality is now something you watch on a screen. In I-Be Area, we get screen upon screen upon screen upon endless screen. The screen is both filter and transmitter of heavily performed and heavily edited reality. Although there are many different settings, the entire action of the film occurs within a single zone, which is both RealityTV amplified and Reality© amplified, a space where all interactions are heavily scripted in order to orchestrate the illusion of chaos and a natural collusion of conflicting wills, a locale controlled by a god whose iterability manifests itself in a total situationality that is occluded by the all-recording digitalized presence. Affectation and gesture become just as important as the text being deployed by the participants in these multiproliferatory screens; they become the emotive norms that encase the seemingly random collage of words and ideas that form the script—thoughts melting into one another linguistically because one thought can never be completed: a New Real Order.


There are many different ways of watching I-Be Area. It’s like taking a different ride each time: There is the participatory way, wherein you join the party, projecting your own zone of being and becoming into the “total minimal situation” that the film proclaims; the narrative engulfment, in which you attempt to navigate the “multilinear” (Kevin McGarry) pathways that the plot entails; the linguistico-linear tributary, immersing yourself in the piece’s pure language stream, finding the sense in the seeming nonsense; imagistic engulfment, giving yourself over to the sensory overload in the piece’s manic cuts, the repeated strains of neon color, the detailed visual anarchy of the sets and costumes; the energo-intensive path, wherein affectation becomes your beaming guide; the elemental way, in which you attempt to sort out the millions of parts that form the spectral collage of the whole.


In all likelihood, however, your way of taking in I-Be Area will combine all or many of these methods, thus putting you in a schizo delirium that may repel or enliven you, depending on your openness towards destabilization and the manic mediation that forms the fabric of RTV and R©. All of your impulses become amplified, the aim of your desires is no longer certain, stable identity becomes a joke.

It can be a discomfiting ride to take, which makes it all the more worthwhile.


It should be noted, however, that there can be no characterological way of watching I-Be Area, because in a topia where identity is so fluid, there can be nothing so solid as character—thus there is no such thing as a standard linear narrative. Rather, the triumph of simultaneity—both the multiplicity inherent in being and in situationality. (In one of Trecartin’s subsequent films from the Any Ever series, a character suggests re-writing the US Constitution and replacing the word “God” with “Internet” and “people” with “situations.”)


If the film can be said to be “about” anything (this “about” is always the worst thing anyone could ask of an artist—though we often do), then it is the dissolution of identity into a sort of digital being—a hallmark of the New Real Order. Don’t like your identity? Buy a new one online, pay with plastic. Don’t react; redact! “Sometimes I feel like a prequel to a horrible person,” says one persona early on in the film. This embrace of becoming—a multiplicity of selves (every one is different people, different genders)—is certainly a generational influence; an abundance of youth marks every Trecartin statement. Despite the current shadows looming over the civilized West, we must keep in mind that the RTV generation was reared into an attitude reflecting an overload of confidence, unafraid of the consequences of taking risks — unafraid of appearing stupid. It is this latter fact that allows for so much of the vileness of RealityTV, and which I-Be Area subtly mocks. “What will I be when I grow up?” asks I-Be after he has been transformed into a new avatarial persona, Oliver. “A production company!” he/she answers. Media and the means of mediation are newly morphed into one with technology’s showboating and accessibility; not only is everything shot in HD, the cameras are often visible and frequently held by the speaking persona. Nearly every line of dialogue in the film is spoken directly to the camera, reflecting a consciousness of the process of mediation, a demolition of the fourth wall borrowed from the theater, which RTV typically attempts to avoid, in its artificial framing of “authenticity.”


Departing from the recurring concept of adoption—of babies, but also, by extension, implying the incorporative becoming of new selves—individuals drift into new personae readily and without hesitation. Everything is temporary, and so the heavy burden of ontological meaning is absent. An avatar can become “a toxic bisexual wearing unstable flip flops” before finding her/himself a living, walking meme. In this zone, everything is temporary. Dialects and personalities can be picked up and discarded alongside wigs and make-up. Tangible is intangible and vice versa. Interactions are pure—no psychology, just a super-psychology, overburdened with mediated emotions. “Major” and “minor”—events, personae, substance, objects—become equal and are thus no longer worthwhile distinguishing.


The loss of agency this process entails is not necessarily a bad thing. In the film’s “Moms” scene, in which a group of mothers gathers together in a middle-class suburban living room in order to vote one of the mothers off the show that the film has suddenly become, the excluded mother proclaims, “I can’t believe New Jersey happened to me. It was like writing a book I had no control over.” Instead, in such an equalized universe, a realm where agency is absent or altered, in which subjectivity is therefore spectral and momentary, it all comes down to mattering. “That will be a good day,” shouts the excluded mom: “When it won’t matter!”


Projectile bodies mattering all over the supra-mediated normvoid.


“Do you know what your dad is?”


“My dad is a building that we lit on fire.”


Just as you begin to think it’s all like a high school drama improv class gone totally haywire, the setting shifts and enters into…well, what appears to be a high school drama improv class. While narrative shifts occur all the time throughout I-Be Area, in keeping with the multi-linearity that is the underlying aura of the piece, a major shift nonetheless can be detected about an hour into the film. Or, perhaps: a shift of realms. This new realm is a classroom compound overruled by a pregnant authoritarian teacher, Jamie, and her muse, Ramada Omar. Jamie sits with her legs spread wide open and squats constantly while standing, always about to give birth. Ramada Omar rolls around on the floor, squealing “This is my favorite interactive!”


“It’s not phone you person go call yourself!” responds Jamie.


How does all this mattering come to resolve itself in the light of the total minimal situation? Perception, after all, can also be a physical object in these heightened terms. Saying is an object; so is this gesture. “No symbols where none intended,” Beckett famously wrote at the end of his novel Watt, but how to read in the absence of symbols? Do reading and being become intertwined through projection and participation? How does the frame manage to function when its contents’ aim is to completely decimate the material structure of its container?


We have to see the RTV zone for the metaphysical failure that it is. Just as, say, human laws cannot physically prevent someone from committing a crime, our own physical containers can no longer contain us, if they ever did. I-Be Area is the drama of this failed containment, a literal and ritual purging of the frame. Don’t tell me what something is; rather, inhabit it.


In the end, the personae trapped in the zone that I-Be Area inhabits are desperate to get out of it, to bust it up. They are constantly picking up hammers, breaking glass, destroying the set, fueling the increasingly frenzied chaos that is the artificial guise of their inhabited voidosphere.


Where to go once one finally manages to escape? Escaping is never about re-location—it is about the very act of escaping. The answer is never “there,” more like “there-ing.” Perhaps it’s too unsettling, this sudden cognizance that there is no final destination, only constant movement in store. If there is any true reality, then it is in the machinic nature of shifty becomings, the drive to escape the inescapable. Perhaps the right attitude is best expressed by one of Trecartin’s all-too-“real” personae: “Fuck you and sign out.”




by Travis Jeppesen on September 8, 2015

She wore a dadaistic dildo in her cooch that most men were immune to – but not I of the flying saucer. I have licked of the remnants that most mere earthlings are not politically savvy enough to taste, and warm bread is more my bloodline than the arthritic pawings of the brainiac clutch that tends to inflect the barbarian’s smoothie burpjaw gesture. So grandness grins up at the mauled forces and shops right back at them. Whomever “Softy” was meant to play, it ain’t coming across in the well that was wishing. Don’t you want my grandma to be for sale on top of us all? The most worrisome thing is fucking. For when will the cops arrive? It’s a private shock, and one that the rafters are keen to be jealous upon. Wrote all night until the aliens’ knowledge. Can I memorize this book of horrors? It’s for someone else – too much ink, I mean.

Declaration of faith

by Travis Jeppesen on September 7, 2015

Standing up for a world

I suddenly believed in –

I found god in the back

of my coat. The harshness

of each moment rings an-

gelic to me. Fuck death,

Rodefer said.

Reading Capital in Venice

by Travis Jeppesen on September 1, 2015

A work of ficto-criticism, in the September issue of Art in America.

Tania Bruguera

by Travis Jeppesen on August 29, 2015

My interview with Tania Bruguera, from the September issue of Art in America.

Four New Poems

by Travis Jeppesen on August 28, 2015


Can turtles be lesbians? It is a question I have often asked myself, until I stopped once. I appeared as a drug addict for my birthday that year, and everyone applauded my whiteness. I just wanna take this opportunity to be something. Oh look, it has already gone away.


Why do you flee the tides that fart? Can’t you be a samaritan for justice and virtue where there is no goodness? The moral sense of shame being so delicious, I live in a crass alleyway. The fate of the world is my biggest collector. And on Sunday night, I will emerge a vaginaless woman in my supreme sobriety to throw out my tourniquet and give the world a sunburn it will never remember. Dawn comes early this year.




I can’t wait to be a mall. I’m acting all autistic all over the place. It’s a being (lack.) As soon as the communist gets the soup out of her pussy, we’ll have a reason to act for. What about these boots? Is clarity really meant to be blindsighted by the thereafter? I can’t decide on much, but at least there’s a wisdom. We all know what the telegram stood for in the US of gay. Now Mister Riceball has a satan flag in her tutu! Get away from those grape peels, aorta, you don’t know which ass farm they came speedgloating out of.




Aimless for all, and none to be sung. A piece of cake for yr anus in the sky, chase down the misanthropy of minions and spit it in the forsakenness of faces, there is too much time to be roasted. I’m gonna be all late to the dinner party and I’m not even caring, what the blubbery fuck is the matter with me, carved a hole in the time once again. Baby’s rhythmic squeals imply a raping. At least it’s not in the midwest.




A poem is a thought disorder, it must be given up upon. We went into the cactus lake where our friends waited, patiently conjugating adverbs while letting their thirst die. Does the skin drink a salad when the river expels its longitude? These questions and others like it can be answered for a thin price. The sediment within his collected poems is what kept him in the wheelchair for so long. Suddenly a lightbulb.

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