Close Up


Close-Up and present a one-off screening with Chicago based artist filmmaker Ben Russell. Russell is an itinerant experimental filmmaker and curator who has shown his work and performed live at venues and festivals all over the world. His films range from rigorous experimental ethnographies to phenomenological cinematic investigations.

Ben Russell will present his entire TRYPPS film series, and a live film and sound performance. The series consists of five metaphorical works that strive towards a visceral, physical and phenomenological cinema for the senses. The starting point for each film ranges from cameraless filmmaking, high contrast photography, a Richard Pryor stand-up routine and an audience at a Lightning Bolt gig.

Black and White Trypps Number One
Ben Russell 
2005 | 6’30 min | B/W | 16mm

"A night sky fills with light shimmers and flecks, surface markings, heavenly bodies. It's an ocean, a well, a screen, a mirror, a portal. Blackness/void cluttered by growing ephemera. Dark reaches of outer and inner space gradually sifts through shards of granite and diamonds. The mind races as the material becomes greater and more frenetic, reaching a nearly audibly grinding pitch of excitement, flurry, and instantaneous infinity that ebbs at first and then maintains. Flashes of color emerge or are imagined. Chaotic flickering of dancing peasant girls and violently twisting astronaut helmets. Layers of sea slime over undulating life forms. Bonfires and celebration. Explosions, construction. Holocausts. Primordial ooze, modern civilization. Ages and seconds. Floating heads circle kaleidoscopic bursts of shiny beads. Everything everywhere twists, forces through, transforms into, overlaps everything else. Seashells, snow, jewels, static, planets, mitochondria, trash, leaves. Rings, flowers, stars, hair, ghosts, comets, cartoons, demons. Icebubblesinstrumentscats marblestwigsfirefliespinwheelsinsectscraters. Buzzing.Reeling…..flfkkkkk############################ #Overkill. Birth/ Death. Moment by moment, symmetrical—organized like geometry, like Muslim rugs, like math." – JT Rogstad

Black and White Trypps Number Two
Ben Russell 
2006 | 8 min | B/W | 16mm

"A fine fine example of spaces between existing as objects themselves. A patternistic and memorializing offering to natural totems. Two kinds of reversal at play involving black and white as well as reflection and overlap. These simple elements create a hurried maze of twisting antler branches, twigs, and dissected slices of pure "space." I can hear the crackling fires, echoing elk calls and frosty despair…" – JT Rogstad

Black and White Trypps Number Three
Ben Russell 
2007 | 12 min | Colour | 16mm

The third part in a series of films dealing with naturally-derived psychedelia. Shot during a performance by Rhode Island noise band Lightning Bolt, this film documents the transformation of a rock audience's collective freak-out into a trance ritual of the highest spiritual order.

Black and White Trypps Number Four
Ben Russell 
2008 | 10’30 min | B/W | 16mm

"Divisible stand up comedy from beyond the grave, adjust your set, rabbits ears tuned to the Bardo Plane." – Mark McElhatten

Using a 35mm strip of motion picture slug featuring the recently deceased American comedian Richard Pryor, this extended Rorschach assault on the eyes moves out of a flickering chaos created by incompatible film gauges into a punchline involving historically incompatible racial stereotypes.

Trypps #5 (Dubai)
Ben Russell 
2008 | 3 min | Colour | 16mm


A short treatise on the semiotics of capital, happiness, and phenomenology under the flickering neon of global capitalism.

The Black and the White Gods
Ben Russell 
2008 | 25 min | live double-projector performance

Using a short segment of Russell's early ethnographic film Daumë as its foundation, this double-projection performance employs a variety of 16mm film loops, hand-built electronics, prismatic lenses, and analog components to create an audiovisual feedback loop that edges steadily towards the phenomenological. With echoes of Tony Conrad's The Flicker and William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, The Black and the White Gods seeks to interrogate the possibility of representation via the abstracted field of bodily experience.