Written by
Bob Stumpel

October 1

Ray Charles’ First Soundtrack, COSMIC RAY (1961)

'61 FS Cosmic

Bruce Conner (1933 – 2008) has been described as the father of MTV-style editing. His reply: Don’t blame me!
Conner was famous for his collage and assemblage art, combining drawing, sculpture, painting, and photography, illustrating the “discarded beauty of modern America, the deforming impact of society on the individual, violence against women, and consumerism”. In the late 1950s he started also mixing in film as an artform.
In 1961, Conner completed his second film, COSMIC RAY (titles of Conner’s works, per his explicit directions, are to be typed in CAPITALS, always). It’s a 4m43s black-and-white collage of found film fragments (with atomic bomb explosions) and footage that Conner had shot himself (a nude woman with a pearl necklace), set to a soundtrack of Ray Charles’ What’d I Say (using the biggest part of the live version from the album Ray Charles In Person, recorded on 28 May 1959 at the Herndon Stadium in Atlanta, and released in 1960). The film has been nicknamed the “granddaddy of all music videos”.
The movie premiered in 1962. Art critics suggest it concerns sex and war (that’s probably why we never read what they write). Conner subsequently made more than 20, mostly non-narrative, films.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *