Bruce Conner's CROSSROADS and

THE EXPLODING DIGITAL INEVITABLE

a live essay with 4K restoration

 

Crossroads

Bruce Conner, BOMBHEAD (1991)

 

"Ross Lipman's THE EXPLODING DIGITAL INEVITABLE is the ideal way to encounter one of the very best films in the history of cinema,
Bruce Conner's CROSSROADS."
- Erika Balsom, author, Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art

"The masterful preservation of CROSSROADS is a wonder to behold, and THE EXPLODING DIGITAL INEVITABLE adds to the meditative spectacle. Lipman's live performance essay is riveting, and feels more essential than
ever in the current moment."
- Jennifer Peterson, author, Education in the School of Dreams

"I found myself reeling in the 'after-cloud' of THE EXPLODING DIGITAL INEVITABLE. Live-cinema can morph and this notion made it resonate on a whole other level. It opened my mind to what cinema can be."
- Karissa Hahn, filmmaker

 

In 1976 groundbreaking collagist, sculptor and filmmaker Bruce Conner released his magnum opus, a 36 minute assemblage of US government footage of the iconic Bikini Atoll atomic bomb test. If Conner invented the modern found footage film with A MOVIE in 1958, he re-invented it with CROSSROADS. His editing of the film's brilliant "dual" score--by seminal minimalist composer Terry Riley and synthesizer pioneer Patrick Gleeson--evokes a surreal beauty latent in the devastating images that comprises one of the most profound meditations on the nuclear era extant.

THE EXPLODING DIGITAL INEVITABLE is a live documentary essay integrating an array of movie and audio clips, still photographs, and rare archival documents that tells the story of CROSSROADS' unique production, as well as the massive cultural spectacle of the original Bikini Atoll tests themselves--the singlemost recorded event in human history. It also chronicles the extraordinary collaboration of Conner with Riley and Gleeson, including original interviews with both composers. In joint presentation with CROSSROADS, the entire program runs 90 minutes.

The Exploding Digital Inevitable premiered at the Rotterdam International
Film Festival, 2017.

 

IFFR

 

A separate 30 minute presentation discussing the groundbreaking 4K digital restoration of the film, as detailed in the ARTFORUM text essay, "Conservation at a Crossroads" is also available.

 

The Restoration and Reconstruction

In 1996, the Pacific Film Archive in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive embarked on a then-authoritative preservation of the film in consultation with Conner, under the directorship of Michael Friend. Now the Conner Family Trust and the Michael Kohn Gallery, in a joint project with the UCLA Film & Television Archive, has created a unique edition that seeks to faithfully interpret the film in digital presentation while simultaneously honoring the previous work and addressing traditional archival imperatives to respect medium specificity. This undertaking involved a multi-tiered strategy of versioning, with different iterations intentionally created for different media forms and exhibition contexts.

Of particular importance to the interpretive process was a 2003 standard definition video remastering conducted under the direct supervision of Conner. This version not only included slight editorial changes, but critically, went back to the original 1/4" audio recordings made at Patrick Gleeson's Different Fur Studios. Terry Riley's composition had been recorded in stereo, but the film was released in mono in 1976 as the industry had not yet widely integrated the Dolby Stereo format. The current project closely examined the 2003 remastering, the 1996 preservation, and the original 1976 production in generating its versions. "Conservation at a Crossroads" discusses the archival issues surrounding the broad industrial changes that led to a significant new remastering and reconstruction of the film.

CROSSROADS (Bruce Conner (1976): Digitally remastered, reconstructed, and restored by the Conner Family Trust and the Michael Kohn Gallery, in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Laboratory work by Cinetech and NT Picture and Sound. Sound Restoration by Audio Mechanics.

Thanks to: Dave Cetra, Grover Crisp, Michael Friend, Shawn Jones, John Polito, Michelle Silva.

An early draft of this material previewed as a work-in-progress at the Reel Thing, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (LA), 2013. The restoration lecture was presented at Museum of Modern Art (NY), Oct. 28 2013. Made possible with the generous assistance of NT Picture and Sound.

 

see list of restored films here

see list of essays and lectures here