What is Ryeberg? Its website provides a helpful formula: written text + video clip/s = a Ryeberg, but there’s much more to it. Ryeberg invites writers and artists to tell stories through curated online video. According to their site, “Ryeberg curators select from the vast, disordered warehouses of video-sharing sites, then interpret and present their videos in a way that best serves their perspectives and purposes.”
So what, then, was I expecting to hear from authors Craig Davidson, Andrew Pyper, Joanna Kavenna, and D.W. Wilson when they came to Banff Wordfest for a Ryeberg Live event in the Club? Well, anything, really. I wanted to see what happens when writers descend into the wormhole that is online video. But what I wasn’t expecting was the starkly diverse interpretations, perspectives, and insights all four authors brought to their Ryebergs — a range that was simultaneously intellectual, creative, comical, and terrifying.
Andrew Pyper kicked things off by telling us that “fear is like sex.” Then he told us that the first 12 years of his life paralleled a crucial era of American horror cinema. Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and The Shining all influenced Pyper’s understanding of what storytelling was and could be. He showed us the trailer for The Shining, and spoke about restraint, and how horror could undersell as much as it could oversell.
After this, Pyper took us inside the elevator in the trailer for Dawn of the Dead, a two-second flash that reveals how “at its heart, horror is about opening doors.”
If Pyper talked about what helped open his creative doors, Craig Davidson plunged us into the brutally honest wormhole of his own psyche, an Internet vortex time suck where, as he put it, “the hole has no bottom.” Davidson navigated us through an online voyage that began with nostalgically researched types of candy, and clips discussing the virtues of Mexican Coke. Then it got horrifying.