While both La Monte Young and Terry Riley were originally from the American west, Young’s move to New York and work with the Theatre of Eternal Music found him in contact with some of the darker strains of the Sixties counterculture. Riley’s music, while only marginally less rigorous than Young’s (no one is more rigorous than La Monte Young), maintained a lightness that can be seen in all the works here. Bruce Conner was a Californian and spent most of his life in the Golden State. One of his sojourns outside of it was to Mexico, where, in 1963, he searched the countryside with Timothy Leary for psychedelic mushrooms. This experience in captured in Looking for Mushrooms, with the soundtrack Riley’s “Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band” (an earlier version used The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”). Easter Morning is accompanied by the epic “In C”, often errantly described as the first minimalist composition. “In C” is a circular score that can be played by any number of performers on any number of instruments; in this case, the music is played on traditional Chinese instruments.
We end with one of Gene Youngblood’s favorites, Music with Balls, a “fabulously rich mantra of color, sound and motion…. The composition builds from placid serenity to chaotic cacophony to bubbly melodiousness with a mad yet purposive grace.”
Photos courtesy Kohn Gallery and Conner Family Trust.
Looking for MushroomsDirected by Bruce Conner.
US, 1967/1996, 16mm, color, 14 min.
Print source: HFA
CrossroadsDirected by Bruce Conner.
US, 1976, 16mm, black & white, 36 min.
Easter MorningDirected by Bruce Conner.
US, 1966, DCP, color, 10 min.
DCP source: Conner Family Trust
Music With BallsDirected by Terry Riley.
US, 1968, video, color, 24 min.