Tony Conrad, Doing the City: Urban Community InterventionsExhibition | Tony Conrad By Jason Bogdaneris
Internet killed the video star.
For avant-garde sound and video pioneer Tony Conrad the unplannable parameters of his work form the basis of his aesthetic. Unfortunately, on my visit, the audio for his oldest piece, Bryant Park Moratorium Rally, wasn't working (I saw two technicians helplessly shouting into a Labyrinthian set-up of microphones and reel-to-reel analog equipment). What was on display was Conrad's public access show from the early '90s Studio of the Streets. His interest in democratizing media has a political component, as it's obvious many of the subjects chosen at random in the streets of Buffalo are those who once formed the audience for mass media. His 360-degree axis camera technique is a useful metaphor for the table-turning project he had undertaken during that historical window between the dominance of broadcast journalism and rise of the Internet. "Anyone can make Good TV" is his gleefully shouted message. In his concrete studio everything from the problem of gum on the sidewalks to America's complicity with South African Apartheid is given equal time — a jarring corrective for a medium known for its hierarchical authoritarianism, but one that anticipates the open-sourced online age. It would never be as clunky or as charming again though.
Music News By Laura Smith
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