Sunday, 5 January 2014
Ryan Trecartin - CENTER JENNY
The editing is pretty rapid in parts, his characters flail around like hyperactive eight-year-olds — their voices sped up or slowed down and warped to extremes — and the dialogue based primarily on empty platitudes and nonsensical, new age style motivational sound bites. If cleverbots took human form, dropped acid and threw party, their conversations would sound likes this. You might not be able to watch the whole thing, but we dare you to try.
During the course about an hour, the film follows its massive cast of tween-inspired characters through a series of short multi-layered vignettes as they excessively mock each other whilst continuously obsessing over the one and only “Jimmy West.” The film focuses on the life of Jenny who has, according to many of the other characters, become too “left-of-center” while pursuing her interests. We’re also given a worthwhile glimpse into the Priority Innfield set, a hybrid combination of a classroom, locker room and an obstacle course that’s been created in Google Sketch-Up by both Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch. This environment is one that remains in flux and continues to change, much like the loud and bratty characters that seem to inhabit it.
The cast ranges from collaborators familiar from previous works dating as far back as toA Family Finds Entertainment (2004) to professional actors from popular television sitcoms. Most belong to one of several groups of uniformed girls who are all named Jenny. One duo of Jennys wears earmuffs and pink hoodies branded “AUDITION;” another posse dons khaki shorts and tank tops covering up greenscreen-green bikinis; other, grittier girls are in sweats that read “W4$T3;” a more womanly group in neutral tones identify themselves as nameless proto-Jennys, held in limbo as they await matriculation into “The University.”
The various Jennys belong to a caste system in which iterations of the same, basic, archetypal girl differentiate themselves from one another based on how powerfully they have evolved. The notion of being “basic”, in fact, is a flattening condemnation the girls hurl back and forth at one another. There is a quantitative basis for self-actualization here, and, as if in a video game or any other kind of entertainment simulation, a level-based logic propels the Jennys as they graduate from nothing – “I don’t have a name yet, we’re not even on a level” – to level one, to level two, and beyond. This guides the plot as well, which shifts abruptly from one vignette to the next in an arc that escalates without concern for scenes that have been surpassed by more evolved ones.
The group dynamic recalls previous works like K-CoreaINC.K, in which a mass of characters in tan business attire arbitrarily compose a sort of model UN of delegates from around the world– USA Korea, Brazil Korea, Canada Korea, etc. However inCENTER JENNY, instead of a superficial heterogeneity spread across a group as a global microcosm, everyone is striving to be as similar as possible. Rather, everyone is mimicking an ideal, and the result among the successful ones is sameness.
This ideal has a name, “the source,” and one group of Jennys regard its influence as a kind of Icarus drive, ominously cautioning one girl that if she continues in her ways she “might end up in touch with the source.” Proximity to center is an absolute measure of potency. The possibility of being close enough to touch “the source” runs the risk of being consumed by the powers that that shape the world they live in. But any remove from the center connotes vulnerability. Gatekeeper Jennys brand underlings “left of center”—a designation that others wear proudly, seemingly for alternative positions along this otherwise oppressive, concentric continuum.
The movie’s sound and camera crew are often captured onscreen as peripheral characters that frame the interior action of the Jennys as a contained production or kind of ethnographic study. Authoritarian presences like televisions hosts and teachers are other non-Jennys, who reinforce the rigid, competition-based ecosystem in which they exert their development.
One girl, then another, declares herself Sara Source — a direct descendent of the humanity all the other vessels idolize. Whether either is truly Sara Source is as unclear as whether any of the people in the movie are people at all, or if they are post-human simulations emulating constructions of personality and community mythologized as a source code for social behavior."
CENTER JENNY, 2013 from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.