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Film Screening: Bruce Conner’s LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS

June 24, 2020
June 22–29, 2020
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY
Bruce Conner
Digital & Electronic Art
Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Art Museum.

Paula Cooper Gallery and Camden Art Centre present Bruce Conner’s acclaimed film available for free to screen online until June 29.

“LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (1959-1967/1998) is a psychedelic travelogue film that documents a series of ‘trips’ through rural Mexico and urban America. Conner combined street views of San Francisco shot in the late 1950s with scenes of rural Oaxaca captured during his “mushroom-hunting” excursions between 1961 and 1962, when Bruce and his wife, Jean, were living in Mexico City. On at least one of these trips, the Conners were joined by Timothy Leary, the ex-Harvard professor and soon-to-be leading proponent of psychedelic drugs.

“Whereas an earlier version of the film was silent and played on a loop, in 1967 Conner added a rock ’n’ roll soundtrack, The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ off their 1966 album Revolver. Conner often noted that this version of LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (along with COSMIC RAY) was rented by advertising agencies, which were presumably interested in his use of rapid-fire editing and strobe effects to generate visual disorientation and subliminal messages. In 1996, Conner revised the film once again: he used an optical printer to expand its length from three to fourteen-and-a-half-minutes, and added a new soundtrack, Terry Riley’s ‘Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band,’ to create a more meditative, but no less hypnotizing, iteration of the mushroom hunt.” — Johanna Gosse, Art Historian.

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Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Art Museum.