Bruce Connor, experimental artist and longtime San Francisco resident, died yesterday at 74 years.
Throughout his life he made all kinds of art, from woodcarvings in the mode of Max Ernst to assemblages of everyday objects that are some of the best ever constructed.
But it was his films that were seen by and were an inspiration to so many. He cut up and re-arranged existing footage into Collage Films that are exciting, hilarious, and deeply critical of Western society and technology. They were often set to pop music and so they could also be seen as early music videos.
As his films became more and more successful and curators and programmers demanded more material Connor railed against the Art World trying to force him into one medium over another, feeling it cramped his style and also his life by trying to force him to stagnate.
In the spirit of July Fourth I would like to say that people like Bruce Connor make me proud of the United States. As long as this country continues to produce irreverent cantankerous artists who turn a medium on its head I will stick around.
A toast on this hot California afternoon to the late Bruce Connor and I leave you with his film America Is Waiting, set to a song of the same name by David Byrne and Brian Eno which they recorded in 1981 on their record My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. It is fitting that Connor made the film because the song, like his films, utilizes “found footage” in the form of voices recorded off of short wave radio.