IRL by Grant Singer, Patrik Sandberg, others
It isn’t reactive or responsive. That would be another segment of media, another bunch of freaks. You freaks, maybe.
It’s preservative. Like, poison chemicals, shrinkwrap, electrical tape. Cool dairy at a Manhattan bodega. Expired?
OPEN on the horror of being young in New York City in 2012.
OPEN on contemporary nightsweats.
OPEN on a young starlet, Sky Ferreira. Cold dead eyes, perfect skin, broken mind, numb boyfriends.
This film is 15 minutes of shameless, turnt up dread feelings. Photography by Jason McCormick. Hair by Darine Sengseevong. Patrik, who used to do a radio show I listened to before I moved to the Bay Area, wrote it. Grant Singer, with an eye for dark beauty work and terrifyingly empty places, directed.
It’s gross, unrelenting, bleak.
It doesn’t read like a temping short or a paced feature. It reads like a commercial for death. It’s up on your screen for a few minutes, blasting. And you half-conciously consider what is being sold: fucked youth, the unmoored hyper-metropolitan self, art world teen egos grinding up against imagined fame and power, hardened late-20s lust.
These guys take sickening, heart-wrenching bad vibes way seriously. They get it right.
The fear is so real it doesn’t need to be supernatural. There’s nothing more terrifying than a vampire who is actually just your best friend, turning on you, without warning. Your greatest anxiety probably isn’t that magical, mythical, or atypical. Monsters are less surprising when they wear hideous masks.
Crushing dread, again, again, again. Looping. Fearing fear, doubting feeling.
Ferreira’s character almost buys a gun from Damien Echol’s character. Casting that makes skin crawl. I have an urge to defend these characters who don’t (can’t?) defend themselves, who just give in. People will call them superficial, narcissistic, or worse – indicative. If not here, than in other works. It’s happening.
So what. We put chemicals into our bodies to feel things. We eat pills to keep going, to stay optimistic amid the doom architecture of this city. We speak what we feel. It’s nearly as unhealthy, in the short term. We even make confusing art, horror of horrors. It’s senseless, I know. You smile if you feel this.
The only thing less responsible or accountable than being young and getting pureblissed – high above fear and doubt – is making art you believe in at any age, while you spin off into this void of life, with real terror on the digital wind, and a wanted future bleeding-out on the tracks.
Patrik and Grant did it. You probably do it too, if you read this site. It sometimes feels like shit. You feel like shit. Your art is guilty of both attention and neglect. But there’s a certain practical quality in caring about the things you do or make. Caring about your own life. Call it preservative. Call it IRL. The alternative is to just not. And being totally inside not, is very much what this piece is about; embracing not mundane death, but a pure refusal to live on any terms at all.
I’d rather just not, the ghostly Liza Thorn (of the band Starred) seems to mean as she speaks the words “Everything is free,” playing dead, playing completely alive. She doesn’t. Grant repeats this. His editors cut it in again and again. It’s Melville 2012. This refusal, the only clear act. We wonder about it, down in the hot summer tombs, waiting for the train, waiting to be bailed out.
We consider aliens, demons, abduction, injection, abstraction. The whole thing. Where does the story go? IRL isn’t so far from anywhere. You’ve been.
View it again.