Behind the Production of COLLIDER
Posted by <Jak Ritger> on 2022-02-15
About a year ago, I published a short essay on DNR titled “Towards Crypétournement.” After the piece circulated through discord and dms, it caught the eye of lower cavity. With the addition of a referral from an artist in the New Models community, I was invited to join the artist residency project in Holyoke, Massachusetts for three weeks during August & Sept of 2021. The body of work I produced during COLLIDER is an extrapolation on a process developed earlier. The circumstances that lead to this productive emergence trace a possible path through the digital landscape.
In 2013, the fine art world felt as inaccessible as critical theory. Graduate school was not an option as I needed to hustle my way into advertising in order to pay back the student debt. My view into the inner workings of corporate strategies gave me an understanding of the scale and incentives of consumer capital. My day job as a video editor was prescient to of the moment of digitalization. As I took these experience into my art practice the advertising production line inverted polarity. Reverse engineering visual language to produce evidence of evolving structures. In this way, the art and writing diverged from the commercial art system or the magazine circuit. Carving out time in between freelance job, adrift, I waited hoping the right venue for the work would materialize.
During my final year at school, The Jogging’s Politics and Art group show was exhibited in the student run Godine Gallery. From this show I started following Brad Troemel on Instagram and then eventually Patreon to join the monthly raffle. After Trump’s election, Troemel shared Anna Khachiyan’s “Art Won’t Save Us” essay that edited by Mike Pepi. I began listening to Khachiyan’s Red Scare Podcast to continue on the artworld heterodox beat. Around this time I started tuning into Joshua Citarella’s intermittent “meme review” twitch streams with various writers and artists in the post-internet milieu. After about two years of Red Scare, I signed up for NEW MODELS TopSoil Patreon in order to access the interview with Khachiyan. This access opened up the digital art, music & culture flowing through the NEW MODELS discord.
Descending into this “Dark Forest” space changed my trajectory. The dense podcast and multi-layered discussion compressed language in order to unpack memes & politics. From this kinetic stew came "Josh C’s Super Secret Sleeper Cell" discord which germinated the Capitalist Realism Reading Group which flywheeled into the DoNotResearch.net [DNR]blog. The multi-modal flow of information and analysis in these spaces supercharged my practice. I had found a community to develop and receive my work. The artist residency at lower cavity culminated all of this energy. The time spent at lower cavity was a chance for me to dive into these threads with no distractions, to live the theoretical realities of the online spaces, and see how far the rabbit hole goes.
The project space in Holyoke was quite intimidating and unforgiving: a mass void of bare brick and concrete. I used climbing rope and carabiners to try and grapple with the space and find a foothold. lower cavity was a generous host, feeding me books and conversation, but as the solo artist at the residency I needed to have the critical exchanges to think through the work. My instincts told me to turn back to the communities and solicit studio visits via Zoom from mentors and friends NEW MODELS and DNR. I spoke with fine-artists, media thinkers, critical theorists and technologists. About half way through the residency I started feeling the pressure and depersonalization of being alone in a strange place embedding myself in deep history and projections of A.S.I. (Artificial Super Intelligence.) Thankfully, DNR members joined a Voice Chat and brought me back to reality. I am so grateful for the generosity of the community that supported me throughout. I named my project “COLLIDER” as a gesture towards the function of art as I see it: bringing people together in order to combust new ideas, spaces and political horizons.
Preview a Work In Progress Version of a film I am working on from footage captured and documentation of COLLIDER at lower cavity - aug / sept 2021 here
Full documentation can be found on https://www.lowercavity.space/jak-ritger