YLEM Forum: Steve Beck, video & computer pioneer
Wednesday, January 17, 8 pm
RX Gallery and Bar
(entirely voluntary - it's to help our friends at the RX Gallery)
Sponsored by YLEM: Artists Using Science and Technology
Contact: Trudy Myrrh Reagan, email@example.com
40 years ago, Steve Beck felt driven to share the colors and moving shapes he saw in his mind’s eye, creating one of the first video synthesizers. At the birth of computer graphics, he was displaying abstract images in baseball parks! Hear about many adventures of his long career, and his latest project, the technology to put birdsongs in a bird book.
“The way lies not in the equipment (but the imagination).” With that, Steve Beck started experimenting with scrounged TV parts in high school, and as a young engineer designed a camera-less device, the Beck Direct Video Synthesizer in 1968. He was always interested in the mind-expanding, hallucinogenic possibilities in technology, to communicate the colors and moving images he saw in his mind. With his “Phosphotron,” he electrically induced phosgenes (patterns created by the activity of retinal cells) by electrodes at temples. From 1970-5, he took part in National Center of Experiments in TV (NCET) at KQED. There, he broadcast abstract video broadcast on TV - a first! Hatha Yoga and Zen have had an impact on his work, and he showed installation video art in Nagoya, Japan in the 1990s. He created “Voodoo Child” for Jimi Hendrix. A playful teddy bear of a man, he also designed several toys, like “Talking Wiggles,” a hand-puppet teddy bear that has electronic behaviors built in. He is the recipient of artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation, The American Film Institute, and has had many prestigious exhibits and awards. His latest project, just out, compresses the data of birdsongs to fit in pages of the book, “Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song”. Press a bird’s picture, and it sings!
Records of Previous Forums:
NOVEMBER 2006: How Techies Have Fun