DOCUMENTARY SERIES PRODUCTION, DIRECTION
MOCA Los Angeles establish MOCAtv as an authoritative locus for a learned, historical analysis of the birth, growth and blossoming of the music video as an art form. Dissident though of no better place to begin than with the work of San Francisco-based artist Bruce Conner (1933-2008)––generally considered to have created the first real music video in 1961. Produced in conjunction with MOCA and the Conner Family Trust, the series explores Conner’s films which are set to the music of Ray Charles, Tony Basil, Devo, and Brian Eno & David Byrne. The multipart series features interviews and commentary with Toni Basil, Gerard Casale, Dennis Hopper, David James, Bruce Jenkins, Michael Kohn, and Michelle Silva.
Featured in the introductory episode, THREE SCREEN RAY is a reimagined and expanded version of his seminal COSMIC RAY, a literal cinematic slot machine where three reels of images meet and diverge and meet again. Influenced as much by his methodologies of assemblage as the kineticism of abstract expressionism, Conner cuts together images of sex, war, dancing, and cinema itself before abrading and abusing the reel. What results is an explosive collage and a reflexive comment on the power of film and media.
Beginning with his groundbreaking found-footage masterpiece, A MOVIE, the films of Conner have marked a radical intervention into the language of filmmaking. For their remarkable use of music to structure their energetic bricolage, early Conner films such as COSMIC RAY and BREAKAWAY are frequently pointed to as important precursors to the modern music video. Often referred to as the “father of found footage film” and the “father of MTV music videos,” Conner paired his trademark rapid-fire editing style with a broad spectrum of music from R&B, gospel, classical, pop and punk, to minimalist compositions. His pioneering body of work continues to exert a broad and lasting influence on both mainstream and avant-garde film culture.