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August 15: Cosmic Cinema

Cosmic Cinema:
Underground West Coast Psychedelia, 1965-1976
August 15, 7pm


I’ve got to break these chains
Before I go insane
I’ve got to get up and go
To go any place, I don’t know
I’m gonna break away
From all the chains that bind
And every day I’ll wear what I want
And do what suits me fine…
–Toni Basil, “Breakaway,” BMI Records, 1966

They say that if you participated in the psychedelic 60s, you can’t remember it, and that if you weren’t there, you can’t possibly understand what it was like. Since the advent of home video, we have been able to compensate for this aporia in our cultural memory by watching Hollywood relics, like Dennis Hopper’s blockbuster Easy Rider (1969) or Roger Corman’s memorable B-movie The Trip (1967). For better or worse, these films package one of the counterculture’s most salient achievements, still influential today: its experimentation with cinematic form. Working our way between the hotbeds of San Francisco and Los Angeles, we will discover the visual styles and technologies that these (relatively) unsung heroes utilized to “break away” from the binding chains of cinematic conventions.
Curated by Tina Rivers.


Single Wing Turquoise Bird, silent footage from a light show, c. late 1960s/early 1970s, 4 minutes [DVD]
Burton Gershfield, Now that the Buffalo’s Gone, 1965, 6.5 minutes [MPEG]
Felix Venable, Les angeS Dorment, 1965, 7 minutes [MPEG]
Bruce Conner, Breakaway, 1966, 5 minutes [16mm]
Scott Bartlett, OFFON, 1967/8, 10 minutes [16mm]
David Lebrun, Tanka, 1976, 9 minutes [16mm]