Light Show Artist
What do you do?
I do many things, but the thing that I’m most proud of is creating and directing the Joshua Light Show, it was made to provide a strong visual background to go with the amazing music that happened at the end of the 60s.
Which musicians did you work with?
We found a permanent home at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East in New York, a 3,000 seat theatre on the lower east side. We got to work with all the great artists who were booked by Graham: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin etc, but it was not like we were side by side with them. We were behind them, behind a large sheet of plastic. It was very friendly backstage and of course I talked to Jimi and I talked to Janis. It was wonderful because the more familiar we were with the music the better we got, and the audience had a better experience.
Can you explain your technique?
Things have become much simpler today because there are many more techniques available, but in those days it was really a question of making as much light as you could on a wall, or in our case a projection on a very big screen that was about 30 to 40 foot wide. Our job was to fill it up with as much changing light and colour as we could. We used whatever projection equipment was available and preferably used materials that could be quickly changed. Primarily it was slide projectors and overhead projectors and an assortment of film. Another thing that was unique to our show was something called Lumia, which was reflected light. It created a wonderful Northern Lights effect.
What techniques do you use today?
In the last few years the cost of video projection has gone down so far we don’t need primary light sources anymore. We don’t project the video directly, we project it onto mirrors and that reflects onto the screen. What you can put into the projector is infinite so we have a person with a computer feeding the projector. Every show we do now has a very strong digital element. If somebody wants what we call the analogue show, we have to bring out the old projectors, the old fluids etc and we’re happy to do that but it costs a lot more money.
Where did your passion for this come from?
I don’t know. I just suddenly fell in love with light and what came along in the mid-60s was this thing called multimedia, a catch all phrase for say, turning on two projectors, and that was my groove. In high school in the 50s I decorated the school dances by putting in 8 red light bulbs with white light bulbs and that really impressed everybody.