Professor Melissa Ragona Presents “UnderSound: Bruce Conner’s Sonic Structures” At MoMA

Melissa Ragona, Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Critical Theory, presents “UnderSound: Bruce Conner’s Sonic Structures”, Friday September 23, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as part of a symposium on the avant-garde film and sound pioneer.

Ragona will address the idea of undersound as one of the major conceptual structures of Conner’s sonic work across installation, sculpture, photography, cassette, and film. Borrowing from Michael McClure’s notion of an “undersoul,” a term Conner embraced as a way to position many of his works, she examines the visceral sonic and optical effects Conner achieved through his unique use of syncopated rhythm and cuts.

Ragona joins an esteemed panel featuring a keynote by Kevin Hatch, Assistant Professor of Art History at SUNY Binghamton and author of Looking for Bruce Conner (2012); Anastasia Aukeman, Assistant Professor at The New School and author of Welcome to Painterland: Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association (2016); Michael Duncan, art critic; and Sheldon Renan, writer, director, and producer. Exhibition curators Stuart Comer and Laura Hoptman will moderate.

This symposum is presented in conjunction with BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE, the first complete retrospective of Conner’s work over the course of his 50-year career, spanning film, video, painting, assemblage, drawing, prints, photography, photograms, and performance. Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was one of the foremost American artists of the postwar era, exploring communities in and outside of California; his collaborators in the fields of poetry and music; female subjects; and his crucial involvement with avant-garde cinema and underground film communities.

Ragona teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate seminars at Carnegie Mellon in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture spanning art history, film, sound, aesthetics, and critical theory. Her critical and creative work focuses on sound design, film theory and new media practice and reception. Her research and writing on luminaries of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s such as Andy Warhol, Hollis Frampton, and Paul Sharits have been published in MIT Press Journal, October, Duke University Press among others.

Image: Bruce Conner. CROSSROADS (promotional still). 1976. 35mm film (black and white, sound), 37 min. Digitally restored 2013. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Accessions Committee Fund purchase), with the generous support of the New Art Trust. Courtesy Conner Family Trust. © 2016 Bruce Conner