Of the many words used by friends and collaborators to describe Tony Conrad, who died last April at the age of 76, one of the most frequently heard is "disruptive." In a career that straddled experimental music, film, visual art and education, Conrad vigorously resisted the complacency that befell many of his peers from the 1960s New York avant-garde.
For Tyler Hubby, director of the new documentary "Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present," this presented a challenge. The filmmaker had been shooting footage of Conrad since the mid-1990s — when his musical career had enjoyed a renaissance after a lengthy hiatus — and began to work in earnest on a feature in 2010. But how do you pin down such a multifaceted, mercurial artist?
“Tony was very aware — and wary — of the camera throughout filming, and in many ways was giving a performance,” Hubby recalls. “I just kept the camera rolling to break that down a bit, but he always knew what was up and always seemed to know what was or was not in frame.”