BOMBHEAD, 2002 Digital print with acrylic paint additions Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York; John B. Turner Fund, © 2017 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

BOMBHEAD, 2002
Digital print with acrylic paint additions
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York; John B. Turner Fund, © 2017 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

EYE FILM MUSEUM

Bruce Conner's CROSSROADS and The Exploding Digital Inevitable

April 25, 2017 @ 7:15pm

American film archivist and film restorer Ross Lipman produced a ‘live documentary’ about CROSSROADS, a compelling experimental film made by Bruce Conner in 1976. Conner paired minimal music by Terry Riley with footage of nuclear bomb tests on the Bikini Atoll. Lipman provides a running commentary on film and audio clips, material about the creation of Conner’s film and the complete 4K restoration.

Conner, one of the key figures of 20th-century American experimental film, edited 36 minutes’ worth of footage made by the American government as they carried out a notorious nuclear bomb test on the Bikini Atoll on 25 July 1946. The test was registered by five hundred cameras, making it the most comprehensive record ever of a critical event in the history of mankind.

The Americans detonated the biggest atomic bomb of the 20th century in secret, but the fallout was so massive that the inhabitants of the Bikini Islands were contaminated by the blast and had to be evacuated – causing a worldwide scandal.

an urge towards self-destruction

Ross Lipman, a former restorer at UCLA Film & Television Archive, was responsible for the 4K restoration of Conner’s film. He talks about the project in his live documentary, using a range of film and audio clips, stills and rare archival material. He highlights Conner’s motives and also shows how complex film restoration can be: Lipman created a number of versions with different sequences  for various media forms and exhibition contexts. The documentary also throws light on the social significance of Crossroads, fully exposing as it does the human urge towards self-destruction and the blind worship of technology.