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April 5 - 6

Tony Conrad – Film/Performance

Filmmaker, composer, musician, conceptual artist, Tony Conrad (b. 1940) is a multi-faceted and polymath artist who has exerted an immeasurable influence over the American avant-garde film and music scenes. Conrad's first experience in film came from his creative partnership with Jack Smith as the sound designer for Smith's best known works, Scotch Tape (1959-62), Flaming Creatures (1963), and Normal Love (1963-64). An accomplished violinist, Conrad began a fruitful partnership with minimalist music pioneers La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and John Cale, as a key member of their multi-media performance group, and as one of the inventors of "dream music," a mode of improvisation that explored the musical possibilities of drone harmonies.

Conrad's musical work informed his breakthrough film debut, The Flicker (1966), a radical reduction of the cinema to its most essential properties – light and darkness, black and white, sound and silence – that brought film fully into the emergent minimalist art movement. With subsequent works such as Straight and Narrow (1970), Coming Attractions (1970) and Four Square (1971), Conrad created some of the purest and, to this day, among the most arresting examples of structural film.

An important complement to Conrad's films is found in his path-breaking work as a performance artist who has explored a wide range of unusual materials and methods in order to challenge traditional notions of film events. Conrad has not only experimented with various ways of cooking film – treating raw film stock as an ingredient to be stir-fried or pickled, and then projected – but has also played film as a musical instrument (stretched taut and played upon with a bow) and, most recently, has used a Tesla coil to electrocute film stock. The theatricality, mystery and off-beat humor of Conrad's performances have made them among the most rewarding and thought provoking forms of expanded cinema.

The HFA is pleased to welcome Tony Conrad for two evenings of films and unique, live performances and to welcome French filmmaker Marie Losier, who will also present her wonderful portrait of Tony Conrad, DreaMinimalist, together with a program of Conrad's little-seen and wickedly funny recent video work.


Special Event Tickets $15
Saturday April 5 at 7pm

Straight and Narrow

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1970, 16mm, b/w, 10 min.

Featuring music by Terry Riley and John Cale, Conrad's black and white flicker film is designed to make the viewer experience a range of color and motion effects through its carefully modulated rhythm structure.

The Flicker

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1966, 16mm, b/w, 30 min.

One of the essential American avant-garde films, The Flicker transforms Plato's cave into a hallucinatory dream machine. Must be experienced to be believed.

Followed by a live musical performance by Tony Conrad (electric violin) and MV Carbon (electric cello).

 Listen to this evening's introduction and performance.

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Special Event Tickets $10
Sunday April 6 at 3pm

Tony Conrad: DreaMinimalist

Directed by Marie Losier, Appearing in Person
US 2008, 16mm, color, 28 min.

The latest in Marie Losier's ongoing series of film portraits of avant-garde directors (George and Mike Kuchar, Guy Maddin, Richard Foreman), DreaMinimalist offers an insightful and hilarious encounter with Conrad as he sings, dances and remembers his youth and his association with Jack Smith.

Snowbeard

Directed by Marie Losier, Appearing in Person
US 2008, 16mm, b/w, 3 min.

Losier's poignant short film offers a moving tribute to New York icon Mike Kuchar, filmed on his last day before leaving Manhattan to relocate to San Francisco.

Recent Video Work

In Line

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1985, video, color, 7 min.

Grading Tips For Teachers

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 2001, video, color, 13 min.

Tony’s Oscular Pets

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 2003, video, color, 5 min.

Conversation II

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 2005, video, 6 min.

 

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Special Event Tickets $15
Sunday April 6 at 7pm

Short Films

Articulation of Boolean Algebra for Film Opticals

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1975, 16mm, b/w, 10 min. excerpt of 75
min. original

4-X Attack

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1973, 16mm, B&W, silent, 2 min.

The Eye of Count Flickerstein

Directed by Tony Conrad, Appearing in Person
US 1967-1975, 16mm, b.w, silent, 7 min.


Film Electrocution

Performed by Tony Conrad

A live performance in which raw film stock is electrically manipulated, processed and projected.

audio from evening Listen to this evening's performance, introduction and Q&A.


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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700