Credit: Ruth Gruca

Ben Russell

Last September, when the Museum of Contemporary Art unveiled an installation of Ben Russell’s latest short, Trypps #7 (Badlands), the local filmmaker hosted a pair of remarkable programs: one showcased the development of his Trypps series, whose subjects range from the neon lights of Dubai to the rock duo Lightning Bolt, and the other collected some rarely screened experimental classics. During the accompanying talks, Russell expounded on the similarities between his two perennial sources of inspiration—ethnography and hallucinogenic experience—and how he’s tried to fuse them in his work. As instructive as those talks were, the films really need no explanation: Russell deploys an arsenal of cinematic techniques to ensure that his movies are, first and foremost, a visceral experience. As if to stress the point, Russell shot Trypps #7 with wild, swinging camera movements that make the movie feel like a roller coaster ride. —Ben Sachs