Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tony Conrad | Pickled Films

From an interview my friend Jay Sanders conducted with the artist, for Bomb magazine, a few years back:

JS: It’s amazing to see how far things are pushed with your work from that period—in the Yellow Movies from ’73, which are films that can basically go on forever but utilize no projectors and no film, and also the film objects that you made around that time, where film itself is treated and transformed chemically, and is often fully unprojectable. I know you gave a recent talk at the Guggenheim and you called some of that work “pathological.” Citing this work specifically, could you elaborate on some of those projects?

TC: Well, if you take a roll of film and instead of making pictures on it, you process it by pickling it in vinegar and putting it in a jar and presenting it for people to look at that way, projected through the lens of the fluid around it, this is so distorted and such a monstrous disfigurement of the normal way in which you are “supposed to use” film, that it is a kind of pathology; it’s a sickness in the sense of a virus being inserted in the system. I think wellness and change are measured by comparison to potential for extremes of illness or death. I was trying to kill film. I wanted to let it lay over and die.

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