Artists consumer reports

Consumer Reports: Trudy Benson

Trudy Benson. Photo by  Ann Street Studio.

Trudy Benson.


“Consumer Reports” is a recurring feature that profiles an artist’s consumption of any and all media throughout one work week.

Trudy Benson is a Brooklyn artist known for her large-scale abstract paintings that were initially inspired by early digital imaging programs like MacPaint and Windows Paint. Incorporating graphic layering paint applications—airbrush, enamel, extruded oil paint—she makes work that references our recent digital past while remaining anchored in the painterly tradition. Trudy has been reviewed in The New York Times and Artforum, and her fourth solo exhibition will open in April 2015, at Lisa Cooley in New York.

A week of media consumption for Benson includes some obligatory TV binge watching and a lot of conversation and link sharing with friends via a private text message thread. Additionally, she compares comedy to art and tells us how travel on the Brooklyn G train feels remarkably similar to a dystopian future as predicted in a J.G. Ballard short story. -John Chiaverina

Monday, November 10

8:30 a.m.

I usually check my email, Instagram, and Facebook as soon as I wake up. My husband Russell turns sports commentary on the wall-mounted television in our hotel room; we’re in Chicago, so it’s 9:30 New York time. I searched the hashtag #britishshorthair on Instagram to get my day started right. #britishblue has some weird videos. What is #porksnow?

I really like the way Instagram organizes images chronologically, rather than through some weird algorithm the way that Facebook “curates” your feed. I watched the video of elephants painting elephants again. It’s so cool but also so fucked up. Young boys poke the elephants’ ears with a pointed stick to direct the drawing.

12:30 p.m.

Reading about Apple’s 1986 fashion line.

Apparently Steve Jobs saw the uniforms of the Sony employes and tried to design some for Apple employees, which they rejected. Later he ended up using Sony’s designer Issey Miyake to design all of his signature black turtlenecks.

As I read this, my friend Rachel texted me her “sexy Steve Jobs look.”

3:00 p.m.

On the plane back to New York, I started reading Cocaine Nights by J. G. Ballard. The book begins with the protagonist, a travel writer for The New Yorker, traveling to Gilbratar. There is pretty cool description of air travel in the first few pages.

8 p.m.

I saw Scott Reeder’s film Moon Dust at Anthology Film Archives. The movie begins with a shuttle to a resort on the moon. Cocaine Nights has a similar dystopic resort scenario, and coupled with today’s flight, I started to feel like a total alien. Moon Dust is two hours long, and was a project ten-plus years in the making. I can’t imagine working on one project for so long.

Tuesday, November 11

9 a.m.

I woke up and immediately tended to my Words With Friends games. I’m very addicted to this game and right now I have about 13 going at once.

12 p.m.

I’ve gone through Instagram twice already this morning. There’s mostly cats and art in my feed. searched #ootd which is highly entertaining. People post what they are wearing and there’s usually extremely banal hashtags like #shirt and #clothes.

Talia told me that .surf is now a domain extension; did some research and discovered that .beer is also a domain extension. I really want there to be a .www extension. Wendy White could have the website www.ww.www.

2 p.m.

Finally getting to work in the studio. Listened to the comedian Maria Bamford on WTF with Marc Maron while I work. After that, I searched for Maria Bamford on Spotify, but since I don’t have a premium subscription (which allows for uninterrupted listening), things got very repetitive in shuffle mode.

I suppose comedians have bits that they will perform over and over again, kind of like artists. Once you really nail something down then it’s time to come up with a new bit.

4:30 p.m.

Still listening to Maria Bamford on Spotify. Took a break to check in with G.C., which is a group chat/girls’ club I’m in with four of my friends. There’s always someone chatting—I missed 38 texts while I was painting (I have to have my text sounds on silent because of G.C.).

Today there was a lot of complaining about the general underrepresentation of women in the art world. This link was shared.

I think this is my favorite Maria Bamford bit that I heard today:

8:30 p.m.

One of the people I follow on Instagram posted a dead kitten. I was tempted to unfollow because it was so depressing. We’re at home watching Boardwalk Empire on HBO Go. We watched 3 or 4 episodes—Russell and I tend to binge-watch T.V.

As we watched, we searched for Scottish Folds on

10:30 p.m.

Fell asleep watching Batman from 1989 on Netflix. The Christopher Nolan movies are so much better, and I hate Michael Keaton as Batman, but I do have a soft spot for Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.

Wednesday, November 12

12 p.m.

While on the G train reading Cocaine Nights, I started thinking about the Ballard short story “Concentration City,” which takes place in a severely overpopulated future where a train circumnavigates the planet. The main character of the story travels that train, attempting to find the end of the line. After over a week of travel, he realizes he’s traveling back in the opposite direction, and that the date is the same as the day he left!

This is what the G train feels like.

12:45 p.m.

Waiting for the G train to take me back in the opposite direction, I watched a video of a baby panda sneezing. I’m at the Smith-9 Street Station so I have cell reception.

I briefly read an article in The New York Times about a restaurant called Dumpling Galaxy on my phone after a friend linked it in G.C. I’ve only been to Flushing once, and it was for Dim Sum. One dumpling in particular sounded delicious, it was filled with dill and “softly scrambled eggs.”

I’m running out of “free articles.”

4:30 p.m.

I’m so sick of seeing Kim Kardashian’s ass all over Instagram and Facebook that I put down my phone for the rest of the day. I read a few articles about this asshole photographer and then put it away.

11:30 p.m.

We can only stream Netflix in the bedroom, so our options are limited. I discovered that they removed almost all of the Law and Order episodes from Netflix. Only SVU remains, probably my favorite, but I’ve watched every one multiple times. I opted instead for Cheers, one of the later episodes with Rebecca instead of Diane.

While we watch, we’re both scrolling through Instagram. I started following Amy Sedaris @imamysedaris. She’s probably got one of the best accounts I’ve ever seen.

A photo posted by Amy Sedaris (@amysedaris) on

I read this article before falling asleep. I slept ANGRILY!

Thursday, November 13

10 a.m.

I’m working in the studio listening to “Honky Tonk Angels” by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette. All three of these women have truly angelic voices. My dad used to listen to this album on cassette in the car. Around noon I switch over to a playlist my friend Beth made on Spotify of The Replacements. I listen to this pretty frequently.

3:30 p.m.

I listen to Major Lazer whenever I’m running on the treadmill. I start out with “Bubble Butt” and then listen to “Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do.” Today People’s Court was on the T.V. so I read the subtitles while I ran. I could also hear the music playing on the speakers in the gym seep thru: seriously a media overload. In between cardio sessions I’m checking G.C.

7 p.m.

Watched The Mindy Project while we ate dinner. This show is entertaining but not great. Mindy says some things that are really hilarious but it’s not because of the writing; she’s just a funny person.

Found this video.

It’s so weird and addictive. I’ve probably watched it six times.

9 p.m.

My dad emailed me a link earlier today which I forgot to check out. is a telephone network in which the conversations of participants are recorded and incorporated into a radio show. If you choose to participate, you will be connected anonymously with another participant over the phone. All of the calls are meant to interrupt your sleep, and would take place between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., the idea being that participants would discuss their dreams with each other.

In theory this sounds like a great project, however I can see it quickly diminishing to something similar to Chat Roulette: mostly perverts exposing themselves. Chat Roulette used to be fun! And safe! Then it went mainstream and became an endless stream of penises.

11 p.m.

I’m trying to get to sleep early tonight so I searched through Netflix’s Horror section. I drifted off to sleep watching The House of the Devil. It’s always easy for me to fall asleep while watching TV, especially something I’ve seen a million times.

Friday, November 14

9 a.m.

I made it to the gym two days in a row, so today I listened to the album Loretta Lynn and Jack White made together, Van Lear Rose. This album is right up there with Hounds of Love for me.

I think I’ve perfected scrolling while on the StairMaster.

12 p.m.

Watched a few YouTube videos while I ate lunch.

I emailed with my older brother who is an engineer and very talented at 3D imaging. We are going to collaborate on making something like this video using one of my paintings as the image. Maybe it will be a website with just the 3D painting movie, or maybe I will incorporate it into my own website.

1 p.m.

I wile away the rest of the day before leaving to visit Greg Bogin’s studio. He is an incredibly talented artist, and Russell and Greg and I vibed about sci-fi and painting.

Earlier, while I was working in my studio, I listened to the This American Life episode about a high school student who was arrested for murdering his girlfriend.

I’ve listened to this episode once already since it came out, but I like this one; there’s a whole side story about memory. After that, I listened to the new Blonde Redhead album and the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive, which I’ve put together in a playlist on Spotify.

Jim Jarmusch is in a band called Squrl, who did a lot of the soundtrack. This movie really made me want to visit Detroit… And a befriend a vampire.

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