Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting More and More Goalbic for "the new year"

Tony Conrad (born Anthony S. Conrad in 1940) is an American avant-garde video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician/composer, sound artist, teacher and writer. His father was Arthur Conrad, who worked with Everett Warner during World War II in designing dazzle camouflage for the US Navy.

The Flicker (1966) is considered a key early work of the structural film movement. It consists of only completely black and completely white images, thus producing the title's flicker when projected. When the film was shown some viewers in the audience became physically ill (flickers can produce epileptic attacks in a tiny percentage of people). Conrad began working in video and performance in the 1970s while teaching at Antioch College in Ohio and the Center for Media Studies, University at Buffalo.

Among other things, Conrad was responsible for the name of the group The Velvet Underground (although never actually in that group himself), and, drawing on his mathematical background, for the naming scheme for intervals now used by most musicians that work in Just Intonation (a tuning system based on the usage of fundamental tones derived from the harmonic series of a single fundamental, thereby based on nature rather than an arbitrary division of the octave).

Along with John Cale, Angus MacLise, La Monte Young, and Marian Zazeela Conrad was an early (although not original) member of the Theater of Eternal Music (also nicknamed The Dream Syndicate), which utilized Just Intonation and sustained sound to produce what they called dream music. This group performed compositions by La Monte Young in which the other performers would sustain certain harmonically related pitches determined by Young for the duration of each piece, while Young would perform complex improvisations on saxophone or voice. In recent years Conrad has characterized those works as collaboration for which he, Angus MacLise, and John Cale should share authorship credit. These views remain a source of contention for Conrad and to some extent Cale among the former participants in the Theater of Eternal Music.

A graduate of Harvard University (A.B., 1962, major Mathematics) and recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, Conrad's work has been shown at many museums including the Museum of Modern Art and P.S. 1 in New York City. In 1991 he had a video retrospective at The Kitchen an artist-run organization in New York City. His film The Flicker was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's exhibition, The American Century.

Conrad's first music release, and only release for many years, was a collaboration with the German "Krautrock" group Faust, "Outside the Dream Syndicate", published by Caroline (UK) in 1973. This remains his best known musical work and is a classic of minimal music.

Recently he has composed more than a dozen audio works with special scales and tuning for solo amplified violin with amplified strings. Recent releases include "Early Minimalism Volume 1," a four-CD set, "Slapping Pythagoras", "Four Violins" (recorded in the 60s), "Outside the Dream Syndicate - Alive" (with Faust, from London 1995), and "Fantastic Glissando". He has also issued two archival CDs featuring the work of late New York filmmaker Jack Smith, with whom he was associated in the 1960s. Support for Conrad's work has come from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the State University of New York, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Conrad continues to teach at the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo.


Post a Comment

<< Home