Bruce Conner • November 18, 1933 – July 7, 2008

It was 1998 and our film night HIPNOTISMO was just kicking off. Held in the old Theatreworks hall in St Kilda, we were nineteen and full of beans. Amiel, Dorian and I were excited to show Conner’s MONGOLOID, a found-footage music video before music video. We had the reel of 16mm film from the state film centre, the projector was in working order and we had a half-full auditorium of late-night buffs. The 1978 film cuts together post-WW2 science experiments, nuclear tests and monochromatic chemistry animations, all wildly out of context, with the plasticated future-retro new wave of Akron’s favourite sons DEVO pulsing behind the high-school science. All very influential to us young artists and film-makers. We doubled MONGOLOID with MONGRELOID, George Kuchar’s 1978 film of a man and his intimate relationship with Bocko the dog.


In a perverse twist Bruce Conner’s MONGOLOID is unavailable on YouTube, due to a copyright infringement notice. Did the estate of Conner submit an objection? It never ceases to amaze me how precious stake-holders can be with found-footage work, to the point of placing their own copyright symbol on the tail of a video. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. It comes from the unsolicited pile of visual culture around us, it goes back to it, given a spin by the consumer/producer. Value-added organic compost in the electrified slurry of appearances, images and signs.


DEVO play Australia and Japan in July and August – sing along with MONGOLOID very loud.