Ryeberg Live at Club PuSH (Jan. 26, Performance Works)

What is Ryeberg? In short, Ryeberg is a Canadian-based collection of essays that follow standard essay formats, except that a curated selection of YouTube videos accompany every essay. So Ryeberg Live, clearly, is the same thing, except that the essay author delivers the essay live, juxtaposed with a curated selection of YouTube videos that provide illustration and amusement. Club PuSH is advertised as a festival within the larger PuSH Festival, and Club PuSH tends even more to the avant-garde than the main stage productions. This show was not nearly so eccentric as some I have seen–I seem to remember a bizarre cowboy show at last year’s Club PuSH.

In the past few years, I have heard, in different cities, of these events where people present YouTube videos, but I’d never managed to make it to one. A new multimedia genre is developing before us. In this case the execution was excellent, due mainly to the fact that each of the presenters is a highly talented, original thinker.

Erik Rutherford, creator and editor of Ryeberg, introduced the speakers. They were prominent BC authors Lee Henderson and Zsuzsi Gardner, visual artist Vjeko Sager, and experimental dance/music artist Sammy Chien. I described the evening as progressing from the relatively conventional (Lee Henderson began with an exposition on money laundering) to Sammy Chien’s unfinished exploration of diverse spiritualities, reincarnation, Internet censorship in China, and mental illness.

Lee Henderson

I enjoyed the careful thought and research, along with the well-selected clips, that explained the mechanisms and scope of international money laundering.

Zsuzsi Gartner

Zsuzsi Gartner’s devoted exploration of the typewriter, particularly the game-changing 1961 IBM Selectric, ranged from Nietzsche’s pioneering typed work to Rodney Graham’s 2003 film Typewriter With Flour.

Vjeko Sager

Vjeko Sager worked onstage in charcoal, completing 11 different sketches, as he played videos by conceptual artists, including one of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger from Burger King. The significance of the 11 works became clear when he called for 11 volunteers from the audience. Rearranged and rotated, the works spelled out “LONG LiVE ART”.

Sammy Chien

Sammy Chien’s work was painful and the most unfinished, as he described his struggle with panic attacks and his exploration of different philosophies and techniques and medications to calm them. He switched from listening to electronic music that can perhaps best be described as ping-y to a droning, slow, ambient sound. He described his experience in China where YouTube is banned, although with a lot of effort and the right VPN, you can overcome it. He brought the work of the Beijing Modern Dance Company (which clearly is amazingly innovative from the short clips he played) to rural peasants who were completely off the grid, and had no knowledge of the Internet.

In all, a fun and worthwhile evening. Thanks again to Miss 604 and Club PuSH for the tickets, which I won in a Twitter contest.

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