A non-fiction film examining the pioneering life and works of artist, musician, and educator, Tony Conrad. One the great American artists of our time, yet to the world at large Conrad remains criminally under appreciated.
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Tony Conrad: Completely in the PresentDirected byTyler Hubby
Introduction to minimalist music and contemporary art, backward and forward.
Conrad gives us a recipe on how to exploit present state at length, and oppose pre-set orchestration - commonly taken for granted.
Caught this at the Buffalo International Film Festival in 2016. I am also lucky enough to have known Tony personally and took a few of his classes in the late 90s when he was teaching at the University of New York at Buffalo (UB). Amazing guy and this film does a great job of detailing his life. He is missed.
He's a fucking genius. He did the sound for Jack Smith's FLAMING CREATURES (1963). He worked with Lou Reed and John Cale and clearly was an influence on The Velvet Underground. He took film to another level by frying, roasting, sauteeing and pickling it. A goddamn visionary for sure.
It's hard to imagine a more fitting tribute to an artist who explored temporality than an atemporal documentary that flashes backwards and forwards and ultimately immortalizes him on film on the eve of his passing.
I have been listening to Tony Conrad's music religiously (and that is the right word, because it is enveloping spiritual music) since I was a teenager in the 90s. And I have read a lot about him. I knew of his films and his art exclusively from books. And I knew next to nothing about the man. However adequate-or-better this doc is, I left it giddy, as though I had just had the time of my life w/ a super fun person.
So, Tony Conrad was pretty much peak human being... This extraordinary artist/thinker/strategist/interdisciplinary engineer/conceptual architect who spent 5 decades quietly wreaking inspired havoc on the Established and Inviolable, with the righteous eloquence/intensity of, like, Nietzsche but also w/ heart/curiosity/fun. Hubby's doc works like a well-chosen frame for Conrad's art. The whole thing's an utter joy. 4.5
Feel a bit conned by Mubi's explanation of this movie. Tony Conrad is quite an interesting experimental musician/artist/filmmaker, if you're in to that sort of thing, but he's not "ridiculously charismatic", nor did I find the "power of his personality" a delight to behold.
And btw, the last scene doesn't show Conrad's genius, it shows that he's seen John Smith's 1976 short film "The Girl Chewing Gum".