It begins with one explosion. And then another. And another. Mushroom clouds emerge from under the ocean, expand over the horizon, and churn up the environment in violent upheaval. For more than half an hour, at ever slower speeds, the explosions continue for a work of art that is as hypnotic as it is devastating.
Dennis Hopper credited Bruce Conner with inventing the music video, and Bruce Jenkins, the former director of the Harvard Film Archive, once wrote, “what the Cubists wreaked on painting . . . Conner inflicted on cinema itself.” For every iconoclastic film that the renegade West Coast artist made before his death in 2008, there are sculptures, collages, paintings, and drawings, too. Simply put, if you’re not yet familiar with Conner’s work, now’s the time for an introduction—well ahead of the retrospective that MoMA and SFMoMA are rumored to be jointly planning for next year.