[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Bruce Conner (1933 - )

collage - cut and paste - cut up - edit - film edit - montage - photomontage - remix

image sourced here.


Bruce Conner is a key experimental filmmaker and assemblage artist. He was born in Kansas in 1933 and made his first film (called simply A Movie) in 1958. During the 1960s and 1970s his collage films of found footage were influential and well-received. Key works include Report (1967, about the JFK assassination), Marilyn Times Five (1973, constructed from supposed nude film of Marilyn Monroe), Mongoloid (1978, with Devo music) and America Is Waiting (1981). Conner's assemblage creations have been shown in galleries and documented in books. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Conner [Jul 2005]

Bruce Conner and found footage

San Francisco 1965
While waiting for McClure to leave his place, Bruce Conner and I played around with my parent's car. He posed all over the old Rolls-Royce, but I like his flying lady hood ornament pose the best. --http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/keenan/b1965-5.html [Apr 2005]

Jamming has become a method of devaluing the cultural capital of the mainstream, of reversing the one-way flow of media. It is to many an almost evangelical trajectory, borne by Beat era notions of 'beatitude' a kind of heartfelt sense of pathos and epiphany through art or artistic gesture. This has won it critics from people Bruce Conner's work in the early 1960s on film shows a screen world of beatific menace and threat; cold war anxiety about nuclear weapons, and trashy cast off material about hot-rod races, nude dancers.

When cut together the combination of fact and fiction, rare archival and Z-grade schlock in Bruce Conner's films opens a window into the hidden underbelly of postwar US culture. The psyche of America is unveiled as a vast repository of pent-up desire. The cut-up method was an extension of the overall beat project; to symbolically defy the claims made upon everyday life by a post war command economy. The rigidly warlike hierarchical structure of the militarized government of America in the 1950s was met with an explosion of counter cultural resistance movements, beginning with the beatniks. As McKenzie Wark and Mark Davis point out in their books, it is the members of that same once vehemently anti-authoritarian counter-culture thirty five years ago who today still jealously clutch to cultural power within the contemporary Australian media. --http://www.sniggle.net/Manifesti/notes.php [Apr 2005]

A Movie
A Movie is a 1958 montage film in which Bruce Conner put together snippets of found footage to a musical score. The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Movie [Apr 2005]

Conner made his first film, A Movie, in 1958. A startling bombardment of rapidly edited images, this, like all his films, is devoid of linear narrative and is designed to be understood on a subliminal level. As with his assemblages, he pieced his films together out of scavenged materials, and many of his movies explore the intermingling of sex, death and violence he sees as being central to American culture.

"Bruce's movies changed my entire concept of editing," says longtime friend Dennis Hopper, who contributed an essay to the catalogue for Conner's current show. "In fact, much of the editing of Easy Rider came directly from watching Bruce's films, and, when I look at MTV, it seems they all must've been students of his." --Dennis Hopper via http://www.geocities.com/bakfan_uk/Bruce_Conner.htm [Apr 2005]

Born in McPherson, Kansas, in 1933, Conner studied art at Wichita University and Nebraska University, which awarded him a B.F.A. in 1956. He continued his studies at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the University of Colorado. In 1957, attracted by stories of a vibrant art and literary scene, he and his wife, Jean, moved to San Francisco. Conner subsequently became a key figure in the burgeoning Beat community, along with visual artists Jay De Feo, Joan Brown and Manuel Neri, and poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and Philip Lamantia. After sojourns in Mexico City and Brookline, Massachusetts, Conner resettled in San Francisco, where he continues to work today.

Conner first attracted attention in the late 1950s with his moody, nylon-shrouded assemblages, which were complex amalgams of such found objects as women's stockings, bicycle wheels, broken dolls, fringe, fur, costume jewelry and candles, often combined with collaged or painted surfaces. Erotically charged and tinged with echoes of both the Surrealist tradition and of San Francisco's Victorian past, these works established Conner as a leading figure within the international assemblage "movement."

Simultaneously during the late 1950s, Conner began making short movies in a singular style that has since established him as one of the most important figures in postwar independent filmmaking. His innovative technique can best be seen in his first film, A MOVIE (1958), an editing tour-de-force made entirely by piecing together scraps of B-movie condensations, newsreels, novelty shorts and other pre-existing footage. His subsequent films are most often fast-paced collages of found and new footage. Conner was among the first to use pop music for film sound tracks. His films have inspired generations of filmmakers and are now considered to be the precursors of the music video genre.

During the 1960s Conner became an active force in the San Francisco counterculture as a collaborator in light shows for the legendary Family Dog at the Avalon ballroom, and through his intricate black-and-white mandala drawings and elaborate collages made from scraps of 19th-century engravings, all of which remain icons of the period's sensory-based spirituality. During the 1970s he focused on drawing and photography, producing dramatic, life-sized photograms as well as intimately scaled inkblot drawings. In recent years Conner has continued to work on a small scale, producing collages and inkblot drawings that have been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including the 1997 Whitney Biennial. Throughout Conner's entire body of work, the recurrence of religious imagery and symbology continues to underscore the essentially visionary nature of his work. --http://www.themodern.org/conner.html [Apr 2005]

Meta-media society
Other artists such as Bruce Conner, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist similarly give up the idea of creating totally "new" images. Instead, their works come to function as research laboratories where existing media images are juxtaposed together in order to be analyzed. (During the same years Roland Barthes publishes his articles on the semiotics of advertizing photography.) And, a little earlier, in 1958, Bruce Conner creates his famous "compilation" film "Movie, movie" totally made from the "found" media material. Such a movie - something would not be conceivable just a three decades earlier, when media society was still young and still exited about the possibility of accumulating media records (so even Vertov thought it was necessary to shoot his own material.)

These artworks of the 1960s signal the arrival of the new stage in history of media, which I will call meta-media society. The tremendous accumulation of media records by that time, along with the shift from industrial society concerned with the production of goods to the information society concerned with the processing of data (which was noted by the early 1970s) changes the game. It becomes more important to find effective and efficient ways to deal with already accumulated volumes of media then to record more or in new ways. I am not saying that the society no longer has any interest in looking outside, in representation and new forms; but the emphasis shifts to finding find new ways to deal with the media records obtained by already existing media machines. This shift is paralleled by the new economic importance of data analysis over material production in the information society. The new "information worker" also does not deal with the material reality directly but with its records. Importantly, both meta-media society and the information society adopt digital computer as their key technology to process all types of data and all types of media. --http://www.crac.org/htmls/levavant.html [Apr 2005]

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications