Conner's Crossroads and The Exploding Digital Inevitable
Crossroads (1976), the most controversial film by avant-garde icon Bruce Conner, consists solely of images of atomic tests, set to music by Terry Riley. Former film historian and restorer Ross Lipman takes a new look at the material, and the human urge towards self-destruction. He does this in the form of a 'live documentary'.
The centerpiece of this project is Crossroads, Bruce Conner’s 36-minute assemblage of US government footage of the iconic Bikini Atoll atomic bomb test, the single most recorded event in human history (500 cameras). As an archivist, Lipman carried out the 4K restoration of the film, a highlight in the currently travelling Conner career retrospective. This restoration involved a multi-tiered strategy of versioning, with different iterations intentionally created for different media forms and exhibition contexts.
Parallel to this type of laboratory work, Lipman also creates his own films and documentaries, most notably last year’s celebrated Notfilm, an insightful outcome of his restoration work on Samuel Beckett’s FILM. Stylistically the approach here is very similar, but with live narration, integrating an array of movie and audio clips, still photographs, and rare archival documents that tell the story of Crossroads' unique production, as well as the massive cultural spectacle of the original Bikini Atoll tests and mankind’s drive to self-destruct.