YLEM Forum: Steve Beck, video & computer pioneer

Steve Beck image from Steve Beck's website.

Wednesday, January 17, 8 pm
7:30 pm "mix and meet"

RX Gallery and Bar
(No one under 21 allowed)
132 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Two blocks from Powell St. BART Station
Best nearby parking: Hotel Bijou, Mason St. Between Ellis and Eddy. Evening only = $10

(entirely voluntary - it's to help our friends at the RX Gallery)
Open to the public and wheelchair accessible

Sponsored by YLEM: Artists Using Science and Technology

Contact: Trudy Myrrh Reagan, forum@ylem.org

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
SEPTEMBER 2006: Artists Remember 9/11
JULY 2006: Biomimicry
MAY 2006: What's Hidden in the Molecules
MARCH 2006: Animate!
JANUARY 2006: Multimedia Fandago
SEPTEMBER 2005: Show/Play!
AUGUST 2005: Art, Activism and Technology
JULY 2005: Patterns in Nature
MAY 2005: ARCHIMEDIA from Australia
MARCH 2005: Art Enlivening Biology

(previous forums not on site. We have been hosting forums for over 25 years!)