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Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area

Procession of the Image Processors

October 17, 2010; 11 Minutes; Audio

Artists in Person
Live Video Synthesis Performances by Skip Sweeney (Feedback), and Warner Jepson and Robert Pacelli (Templeton Mixer)

Advances in the media arts occur when the challenge of realizing an image requires another medium’s uncanny capabilities: film chains bollixed, optical printers nudged, the merger of chemistry and electronics. Hy Hirsh, an early adopter, wedded buoyant optical printing with sensuous oscilloscope waveforms; the shimmering result was Divertissement Rococo. Loren Sears, a remarkable tinkerer, has an equal interest in 24 frames and 60 hertz. Loops is an unrelenting barrage of pulsing color, transferred from 16mm and reconstituted as video. Scott Bartlett (with an able assist from Tom DeWitt) took a bounty of film loops and ran them through video colorizers and keyers to achieve the legendary Offon, a spiritual journey centered on the body. Philip Greene’s Golden Gate (1968) takes a similar tack, decentering film-based images through a film chain, for a painterly portrait with a decidedly anti-war theme. With Illuminated Music #1, Stephen Beck shows off the well-modulated movements possible with a synthesizer that needs no external image source. Later, Beck would collaborate with Jordan Belson on the “videofilm” Cycles, using his Direct Video Synthesizer. This alchemical allegory follows particles as they rise up through cyclical transformations, suggesting the sustaining elements, earth, air, fire, water.

To bracket the evening, we’ll have two performances, the first by Skip Sweeney, feedback fanatic from the pioneering Video Free America. Sweeney will show excerpts from early seventies feedback tapes such as Koto Feedback and Moog Vidium, then demonstrate a brand of feedback coaxed from digital tools. To close the evening, composer/imagemaker Warner Jepson will perform with syntho-sorcerer Robert Pacelli on the Templeton Mixer, an early image manipulator that will bathe you in showers of sinuous shape-shifting.

—Steve Seid