Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tony Conrad: Flickering Jewel

Program Three: Flicker & Process Films/Works on Video

San Francisco Art Institute

Presented in association with the SFAI Filmmaking Department.

Known widely as the creator of The Flicker (and thus, in 1966, a harbinger of the “structural film” genre), Tony Conrad’s 16mm films are perhaps more meaningfully appreciated in the context of his musical explorations of duration and the indulgences of subjective experience: “I was devoted to the experiential excess that flickering light made accessible to ‘abstract’ film.” This quick, single-evening survey takes this seminal film as a point of departure to a presentation of Conrad’s later works. Following further refinement of modulated flicker phenomena (including Articulation of Boolean Algebra for Film Opticals and Straight and Narrow, created with Beverly Conrad), Conrad produced a series of process-based films and performances, which involved such treatments as electrocution and cooking, Curried 7302, 7302 Creole and 4-X Attack among them. Later video works—at times created for public access cable in Buffalo, New York—appropriate and critique the televisual language, explore the reflexive nature of video and attempt to short-circuit the authoritarian power structures inherent in contemporary corporate media. Video works to screen include Redressing Down and Tony’s Oscular Pets. [Steve Polta]

See also: program one and program two.

Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Immersive Cinema is a series of concentrated, multi-part artist residencies. Begun in Spring 2008, each season’s chapter has surveyed the work of an active film/video artist, allowing them to creatively present new, previously viewed and in-progress work in personally significant contexts. Each series has featured the artist in-person and has been accompanied by a specially created, limited edition commemorative publication, available free at screenings. Following the March 2008 presentation of Jennifer Reeves: Light Work and the October 2008 presentation of Leslie Thornton: Tuned Always to a Shifting Ground, Cinematheque is proud to conclude the series with Tony Conrad: Flickering Jewel.

Time, time, time. Life should be abundant enough for each person to feel what it is to have their greatest pleasure in wasting time. – Tony Conrad

Radical filmmaker, composer/performer, artist and theorist, Tony Conrad has been at the forefront of experimental media arts since the early 1960s. Long associated with “minimal” music, underground film and collaborations with such iconoclastic figures as Henry Flynt, Jack Smith and LaMonte Young, Conrad is a true cross-disciplinary media artist. Working extensively with time as his true medium, he has made significant contributions in the fields of film, video and music and has developed, over the decades, complex and powerful theories on the libratory potentials of duration and the relationship of music theory to regimes of power. No mere academic, the visual and sound based work of Tony Conrad bristles with dizzying energy and always strives to transcend the intellect as it reaches towards the sensual.