bikiniatoll   13

Amid a toxic landscape, SF found a home for its elite cops - San Francisco Chronicle
"Sent to work on a Superfund site, they were told they were safe. But the S.F. cops stationed at the old Hunters Point shipyard had good reason to doubt."
sanfrancisco  hunterspoint  housing  police  politics  williebrown  2018  jasonfagone  cynthiadizikes  bikiniatoll  contamination  radiation  shipyards  ww2  wwii  superfundsites  history  development  corruption 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Bruce Conner, parsing the nuclear age - LA Times
"In the collective imagination, the mushroom cloud was only a vague if powerful picture. At Kohn Gallery, where a fully restored “Crossroads” is being projected on a large wall in the center gallery, that picture is writ large – turned over and around and studied closely, like an alien specimen held in the hand.

“Crossroads” was composed by editing and reassembling declassified government footage of a 1946 test blast at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Some 700 cameras recorded the underwater test – talk about overkill – which had been ordered to understand the blast’s effects on warships.

The goal was to prove that the nuclear threat, still brand new, did not render the American fleet obsolete, so that appropriations for naval defense contractors could continue.

Like Eadweard Muybridge’s early photographic motion studies, Conner’s film uses 27 black-and-white shots in extreme slow motion to create an almost abstract visual choreography. Original music by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley begins as a low rumble (think microphone static) and soon emerges as a propulsive electronic rhythm.

The first of the film’s two primary parts centers on startling, even mesmerizing sea-level views of the blast. Plumes open and swell like exotic flowers, no two alike. Then the camera rises into the sky.

From airplanes we get aerial views akin to that of Tiepolo’s gods, goddesses and personifications of virtue and vice surveying the follies of mere mortals below. The blast’s expanding cloud skitters across the surface of the sea, swallowing ships in its wake like Noe Peaks disappearing into San Francisco fog.

The film’s longest section comes at the end. A flat gray field slowly but steadily dissolves, like an old television set forming a picture of total annihilation. An enormous battleship emerges as a hulking black silhouette at the left.

Conner was a poet, not a polemicist. Yet, in its entirety, “Crossroads” might be seen as a metaphor for the way in which an astounding force – the atomic bomb – dispersed and steadily spread until it enveloped everything in sight."
bruceconner  2014  christopherknight  film  crossroads  1976  bikiniatoll 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Creepy World of Bruce Conner | by J. Hoberman | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"“It’s All True,” the title of the Museum of Modern Art’s powerful retrospective of the American artist Bruce Conner (1933-2008), comes from a letter Conner wrote to one of his gallerists in the aftermath of his only previous museum retrospective, organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1999:
My work is described as beautiful, horrible, hogwash, genius, maundering, precise, quaint, avant-garde, historical, hackneyed, masterful, trivial, intense, mystical, virtuosic, bewildering, absorbing, concise, absurd, amusing, innovative, nostalgic, contemporary, iconoclastic, sophisticated, trash, masterpieces, etc. It’s all true.

How about “sinister,” “creepy,” and “indelible”? As a fifteen-year-old Pop Art aficionado wandering through the Whitney Museum’s 1964 Sculpture Annual, I discovered Conner’s work in the form of the assemblage Couch. There was no warning. It was like rounding a corner and bumping into Death or seeing the title Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on a 42nd Street marquee. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Claes Oldenburg’s rough, pillowy Soft Wall Switches (one of the only other pieces I remember from the show) was something I could understand as art. Couch was something else—a derelict remnant of a nightmare haunted house. Conner took a moldering, paint-spattered, wax-encrusted Victorian divan and managed to imbed it with a child-sized mummy. The simulated, decomposed corpse was nestled into a corner. On closer inspection, it looked as though it might have been strangled."



"Conner largely abandoned assemblages in the early 1960s. It’s sometimes said that if he had continued in this mode (and continued to exhibit in New York) he would now be bracketed by Rauschenberg and Johns but in fact Conner was too anarchic and contrarian a personality to be easily assimilated into the art world. From making objects, he switched to graphic work. These include intricate drawings, sometimes called mandalas, that were variously redolent of Rorschach tests, amphetamine, and the Cabala; as well as ghostly photograms, photographic work and collages documenting San Francisco’s late 1970s punk scene, and, in the late 1980s, a series of found engraving collages reminiscent of Max Ernst’s. Mainly, however, Conner made movies, some of which, like the 1978 film set to Devo’s “Mongoloid” or the 1981 piece scored by David Byrne’s “America is Waiting,” could be seen as art-world music videos—a form that Conner more or less invented."



"If “3 Screen Ray” is a triptych, Crossroads is an altarpiece. Shown in a museum, it seems like an exemplary—and rare—instance of twentieth-century religious art. Like A Movie, Crossroads is entirely fashioned from found footage, namely previously classified US government documentation of the first post World War II atomic test at Bikini Atoll during the summer of 1946.

The footage, some of it originally shot in super slow motion at 8000 frames per second, has been selected and organized but in no way manipulated, save for the addition of a soundtrack. (An audio collage fashioned by Patrick Gleason on a Moog synthesizer gives way to a dreamier drone composition performed on an electric organ by Terry Riley.)

Crossroads consists of twenty-four shots, ranging in duration from a few seconds to a final one of six and a half minutes, during which time appears to stand still. The movie’s dozen or so billowing mushroom clouds—fantastic geysers of vaporized water erupting a mile high out of the ocean, often the same explosion film from differing angles—are a sort of visual mantra. The word “awe-inspiring” barely communicates the cumulative sense of wonder and dread. To sit through Crossroads is to experience what the poet Frances Ferguson called the “nuclear sublime” or appreciate why, after the successful Trinity test of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer might have recalled a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”"
bruceconner  2016  crossroads  jhoberman  bikiniatoll  jrobertoppenheimer  film  death  terryriley  patrickgleason  moog  sountrack  art  sfmoma  moma  inkblots 
december 2016 by robertogreco

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