Information — Studio Visit with Ben Worley/Bean Summer

Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information (video still)

People make films with a narrative or story all the time. But as artists, we’re not here to just tell it how it is, from point A to point B. Because life doesn’t happen that way.
—Bean Summer/Ben Worley

Bean Summer is an ambient video artist known locally for his psychedelic retro-pop visuals at Lenny’s Bar, Drunken Unicorn, and MJQ. Ben Worley, on the other hand, is an MFA candidate at Georgia State who will defend his graduation thesis in a body of work at Get This! Gallery that opens Saturday, April 25. Of course, the two artists—Bean Summer/Ben Worley—are the same person. Last week I caught up with the man at his East Atlanta home—just before his flight to California for a seven-hour live veejay performance at Coachella Music and Arts Festival—to discuss dualism and dyslexia, listen to records, and chat about art.

Bean's home studio, aka "the living room"
Bean snatches from his record collection

Bean’s thesis, Information, centers on a six-minute video presentation created from six months of appropriation, thrift-store scavenging, digital imaging, and original photography. Information is also available in the form of a book published by Fifth Planet Press.

In lieu of posting the entire video here (you can watch it at Bean’s YouTube channel or, for that matter, at the gallery opening), a single image serves to literally represent the work as a whole:

Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information
Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information (digital print)

According to the artist, the framed video stills (which can measure multiple feet in height, as in the case of the image above) are “the reason to go” see the show in person.

Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information (video still)
Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information (video still)

Oh, those? [… Bean points to laptop …] It’s more material from that laser disc … this awesome thing called Fun Time from 1981 with Bill Murray and all these shapes and movement. You’re supposed to pause it and guess what animal it’s supposed to be. I love the 80s and those textures and colors …. There were also these shapes made into the alphabet—I just took them and totally reworked them into all mixed-up letters ….

I’m 30 years old. I have severe dyslexia. I might have a high visual IQ, but writing emails and stuff … that’s all scattered. I see words on page, and the text starts floating around. So, the video helps me connect with that and show how it’s actually helped my artwork.

Back in kindergarten when I was trying to get through the alphabet, [the teachers] wouldn’t let me through, because all my letters were mixed up.

Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information
Ben Worley/Bean Summer, Information (video still)

These self-help videos I used … they’re all pyramid schemes. It’s everything that’s destroying everything now. Capitalism is the biggest pyramid scheme that’s ever been.

I always have a scene where I drink an entire glass of water. All at one time. It’s like me putting myself in water, like a baptism. But it’s like the video itself, or like how I treat a lot of things, I take it all at once. Yeah … I had to do it like 30 times to get it right ….

I went to New York in 1986 … it was amazing the work you could see—the colors, the variations. My uncle, Jay Mark Johnson, who’s an artist, was sharing a flat with [the artist] Debbie Herring. He’s definitely been an influence. And he’s definitely different—a kind of “new media” king. He started in the 80s and mixed it up with Nam Jun Paik and other artists in town.

Coachella performance
A "performance area" at the 2009 Coachella Art and Music Festival where Bean performed live video last weekend

They know me out there because I’ve worked with Atlanta DJs like DJ Dylan or Le Castle Vania …. He can easily play in LA for 1,500 kids at a time. [Le Castle Vania] is big in the electro scene in LA and overseas in Australia. I think there are a lot of people that are into him here, too. He’s just smart about decisions, doing a show once per month.

The name ‘Bean Summer’ came out of the summer of 2000 when I was at Wooster, a small college in Ohio …. People called me ‘Bean’ and it was my summer account: beansummer at hotmail …. One time my dad came to an opening, and somebody said, ‘Well, hello, Mr. Summers!’ Some people really thought it was my last name …. I’m using both for the show … but I’m not going for the ‘art star’ thing, because I think that sort of persona is crappy. It’s more like I can do twice the work, since I’ve got two people doing it.

I think the hip hop scene is interesting [Bean puts on a record by Anti-Pop Consortium] It’s like what working with the rock scene was a few years back …. The bands I used to work with, Deerhunter and Black Lips, are just too big now. [As promoter at Lenny’s] every time I try to book them it’s like five grand. It’s a lot of money.

BeanBen Worley/Bean Summer, Information (video still)

That’s what I wanted to say!
No, no, no, no …
missed it!
I can’t believe he missed it
get him outta’ there!
hate that guy
hate that guy.
Thank you god thank you god
where’s she going with this?
have to keep goin’ on and on …
To the point
to the point
to the point
to the point
to the point
to the point
to the point.
To make a point
to make a point
to make a point
to make a point
to make a point.
One way
the best way
the most efficient way
the way to achieve your goal
and that is …
communicating to make a point.

Information, edited/reappropriated voice

Roy Ascott said, ‘Art is didactic.’ Didactic, in reference to art or literature, means “intended to convey instruction and INFORMATION as well as pleasure and entertainment.

No one’s going to come sit here and figure out what all this crazy video means. Most people might watch it for like 15 seconds. But I hope they’ll watch to the end. That’s the beauty; there are all these points of why I put things in there, but I think the viewer that sticks around and sees the end … will either be really excited, or they’ll be really angry.
—Ben Worely/Bean Summer

“Information” debuts at Get This! Gallery on Saturday, April 25 from 7-11PM. Show continues through May 16.

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  • Shana worley | Keritesorszag
    September 14, 2012 at

    […] BURNAWAY » Information — Studio Visit with Ben Worley/Bean … […]

  • John Hayes
    April 24, 2009 at

    “I’m 30 years old. I have severe dyslexia. I might have a high visual IQ, but writing emails and stuff … that’s all scattered. I see words on page, and the text starts floating around. So, the video helps me connect with that and show how it’s actually helped my artwork.”

    If you would like your visual problems to stop when you read or e-mail you should visit to get See Right Dyslexia Glasses.

    You can always take them off when you do art if you like.

  • jeff dahlgren
    April 23, 2009 at

    Added thought:
    im actually curious to see this at Get This(always thought that gallery name was kind of awkward,if not a bit silly-but that doesnt matter….)i guess theres a time to see it on a night/day other than the opening…
    i saw his show some time back at beep beep (another odd perhaps unwieldy name-which from my understanding was cuz the original idea for the gallery was to show robot themed stuff/ is this true? – i somehow now doubt it)
    the beep show (encyclopedia studies show) was interesting,but i wished the pieces werent so concerned with being in pretty frames and pretty presentations…i know this must seem an odd observation,but for me there are times when this gets in the way of the feeling of the work,i lose what i hope to relate to personally…i admit im bringing a great deal of my intentions etc…
    i’d read some interesting words of his(that i cannot quote)-but i do know i was inspired by his dada/fluxus/borroughs cut- up ‘tude-sometimes the spirit of those factions really rev my engine….(throw in some of that situationist impetus while were here)-
    ….im starting to think maybe i just hate the context of galleries.

    ya know-i had a friend in the early 2000’s who for a loooong time,wld only listen to stuff like aphex twin autechre boards of canada etc….and he felt the sound of much other stuff had become “gross”…i sometimes see what he means…maybe the cleanliness of bean’s beep presentation could be equated to that…i like me some of that cleanliness,but i also like some low-fi ugly..i feel we need more low fi ugly cuz its somehow closer to real to me…especially if it carries forward a certain feeling.just depends on knowing when to use which and where to show what i guess…

    another somehow related thought:
    i thought it was funny that billy bob thorton got mad when the interviewer referenced his acting career…actors that decide they want to go musician and keep the 2 separate-in terms of getting attention to their work- are full of it. i can appreciate the thought-but…it’s also absurd.

  • jeff dahlgren
    April 23, 2009 at

    Intriguing words about (from) an intriguing artist. thanks for this.

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