Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Motion Pictures (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

William D. Rothman

Second Committee Member

Christina M. Lane

Third Committee Member

Steven F. Butterman

Fourth Committee Member

Grace Barnes


This dissertation constitutes the first in-depth study of contemporary artist Ryan Trecartin’s video art. Although the artist’s work has received tremendous critical attention in recent years, currently there exists no academic book-length comprehensive analysis of his art. The primary goal of this dissertation is to fill this gap in the research by closely analyzing a selection that encompasses the breadth of his most significant videos, from his pre-YouTube era video series Early Baggage (2001-3) to his latest project installed at the 55th Venice Biennale, Priority Innfield (2013). The lack of thorough examination of Trecartin’s body of work is partly due to the difficulty and rigor it demands, as each cut, frame, and shot lasts no longer than brief seconds. In addition, the artist’s complex codes and symbols cannot be described or contained within singular categories as each individual video is packed with multiple, interconnected concepts. I aim to focus the scope of my “video readings” by demonstrating how altermodernity and queerness inform and manifest themselves throughout much of his experimental media work. In examining his network of multi-layered, multi-ethnic, and polysexual references to the grotesque and abject, carnivalesque, and camp imagery, this study illustrates how Trecartin takes on reality television, technology, consumerism, and cyberspace.


Ryan Trecartin; contemporary art; film and media studies; performance art; queer; video art