Ben Russell

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Ben Russell picked a fine word when he chose trip as the lexicographical genesis of “Trypps,” the experimental film series he’s been producing since 2005. Though idiosyncratic, the name serves as a catchall for every kind of trip in the dictionary, explored in this startlingly broad but ultimately cohesive series.

Not all at once, of course. Black and White Trypps Number One (2005) begins like an old-school avant-garde film, with all the formal qualities of cinematic head trips: The now-classic imaging of scratches and dust on celluloid (here augmented by spray paint applied directly to the negative) intensifies to an apocalyptic, kaleidoscopic fervor, suggesting space junk, TV snow, real snow, even a cyberpunk snow crash. Black and White Trypps Number Two (2006) takes the simple subject of tree branches, portrays the form in negative and positive, and then mirrors the footage to induce an

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