Trypps #7 (Badlands)

Ben Russell

Ben Russell - Videostill Trypps #7 (Badlands)

'I call my practice “psychedelic ethnography”; a practice which aims at a knowledge of the Self/self, a movement towards understanding, in which the trip is both the means and the end.” - Ben Russell, 2013

‘is anything more expressive of interiority and subjectivity than a human face….’ - Ben Russell quoting Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Sonic Acts 2017

In Trypps #7 (Badlands) we witness a young woman’s LSD trip in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota; her gentle face channeling a different understanding of reality. Over time, we understand that what we are witnessing is not the camera image of the woman but the camera catching her image in a mirror that is being rotated. Our understanding of what we perceive through the lens of the camera shifts again; what we thought we understood as an image of reality is only a reflection. The film gradually evolves to include an exploration of the vast desert landscape surrounding her, conflating inner and outer worlds. Russell’s Trypps #7 thus not only offers a glimpse into the subjective experience of a psychedelic journey but simultaneously reflects on the power of the camera to question perception and open spaces for transcendence.

Trypps #7 (Badlands) is part of a series of films Russell started in 2005 around travel, trance and embodiment, ethnographic and anthropological codes and the potential of cinema.

2010 - single-channel video installation, 10:00, Super16mm transferred to HD

Courtesy of the artist

Ben Russell
°1976, Springfield, MA, United States

Ben Russell is a filmmaker, artist and curator. In his practice he challenges conventions of documentary representation from within to produce intense, hypnotic, and, at times, hallucinating experiences. His curatorial work follows his filmmaking, which unfolds between experimental cinema and a form of speculative ethnography in a process that he sometimes refers to as 'psychedelic ethnography.' Experiencing a film/installation by Russell means going on a non-narrative, ritualized journey, one that short-circuits the visceral subjective charge of psychedelia with ethnographic protocols of visualization and objectification. The work of Russell has been shown in solo screenings and exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Viennale and the Museum of Modern Art NY. Russell studied arts and semiotics at Brown University and film and new media at the Art Institute in Chicago. He currently lives and works in Marseille, France.

Portrait © Jakov Munizaba

Ben Russell - Artist Talk on Psychedelic Ethnography
Sonic Arts 2017