Clips

NOOR (Light) Part 1 of a Trilogy (2011)
An tribute to the Masters of Middle Eastern Patterns. NOOR is 4D animation of classical design motifs and calligraphy from Arabic, Persian, Moroccan, and others. Inspired in part by British scholar Keith Critchlow's 1976 scholarly book "Islamic Patterns" and by my pilgrimage to The Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Directed by Steve Beck with Robert Rippberger, Assistant Director, with Beck's original, custom, real time 4D animation software "NOOR 4D" and with The NOOR Visual Orchestra members, who include: Phat Ho (software, from Viet Nam), Dan Chapman (2D animation, California), 2D still Arabic calligraphy by Dr. Fayeq Oweis (from Palestine), advisory consultant Omar Bakr (from Saudi Arabia), consultant Jory Gessow (from Israel), and muse Candice Eggerss, among the lead players. Music composed by Rony Barrack (from Lebanon) and performed by The Boulder (Colorado) Philharmonic Symphony, and by Rony Barrack.

Polymediast Steve Beck (2011)
Videons Overview. Edited by Meera Paramohammed, one of my students at UC Berkeley.

NOOR (2011)
Polymediast Steve Beck NOOR Series Overview. Edited by Meera Paramohammed, one of my students at UC Berkeley.

The Lone Breaker (1985)
The Lone Breaker staring Hot Feet and his Rocket Crew! SIGGRAPH Art and Film Showing Award Winner (1985)! Follow Hot Feet as he break dances around the world and outer space, breaking his way into everyone's heart!
Based on the video game BREAK DANCE created by Steve Beck and published in 1984 by Epyx. This Break Dance cartoon was made in 1985 with an Apple II computer and custom "moviemation" software developed by Steve Beck and his team at Beck-Tech in Berkeley.
Music by Barry "Foz" Fasman; animation by Vince Collins. Directed by Steve Beck. Co-Producer Eddy Goldfarb.

Voodoo Child (1982)
1982 Steve Beck is commissioned by The Douglas Brothers to create two music videos of Jimi Hendrix live concert music for a home video VHS album the Douglas Brothers published they had filmed many Jimi Hendrix concerts and rights to the music. Music that was played at the concerts. In the summer of 1968 in Chicago Steve Beck was a light show artist. At The Electric Theater on the near north side of Chicago, owned by Aaron Russo - who later was Bette Midler's manager, among other things. Beck helped to design and build all the light show equipment and then to operate it during live concerts at night. Beck did light shows for many of the 60's rock bands there including Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, and many others. After the shows ended around 2 AM or so Beck joined all the bands to party and...this commission was a dream come true for Beck! The work is an homage to the analog light show motifs. Beck produced it in 3 days in 1982 with his Beck Direct Video Synthesizer. This clip is from a not yet restored video recording of the music video. Full restoration of the video and the music is scheduled to commence soon.

Video Ecotopia (1976)
Made in one day in 1976 Beck created this piece for a PBS pilot for a series "Ecotopia" based on: the book "Ecotopia" by Berkeley author Ernest "Chip" Callenbach. The work is an attempt to show what television might look like in Ecotopia. (And did I ever miss what the future was going to bring with the likes of You Tube and such.) Read the book! It is an excellent precursor to the ecological movements which developed later. This was the final project effort of the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET). Executive producer Paul Kaufman asked Beck to create a short piece showing what television might be like in the new nation of Ecotopia. A complete 30 minute pilot was produced with this piece as part of it. (Directed by Robert M. Zagone.) But PBS declined to pick up the series and that was also the end of the road for NCET. Beck collaborated with Kaufman and Callenbach to develop the concept. This production was made in one day at Beck's small studio at his 1406 Euclid Avenue apartment in the north Berkeley Hills. Production Assistant: Don Hallock; Music mix by Rick Davis.

UNION (1975)
Union is one translation of the meaning of the word "yoga." The work is an allegorical journey of the self seeking reunion with itself. Initial scenes see an archetype of the self diving into the deep realm of the akash. After a turbulent dissolution, the Self is reborn in a golden drop of nectar. Within an egg like alembic, the self emerges reborn. But then faces a turbulent and stormy journey through the electrical energies. Finally finding serenity after the storm, we see a depiction of the inner energies experienced in meditation stages of consciousness. The three "spinal currents" Ida, Pingala and Sashumna appear, also with chakric energies. UNION was made when I was a student of Yogananda and his Self Realization Fellowship (SRF). Music composed and performed by Steve Beck

Video Weavings (1973-1975)
Video Weavings is an homage to the ancient art of weaving. It is a reflection of the "warp and weft" of textiles in the horizontal and vertical scan of television. Video Weavings was the first digital video synthesizer designed, built and performed by Steve Beck. The first version of the Video Weaver was assembled as a "bread board" in 1973 using a "bread board" construction. It was first operational in December of 1973 at Beck's studio at the famous 1406 Euclid Avenue apartment building in the north Berkeley Hills. Using a series of cascoded 4 bit up/down counters synchronized to the NTSC vertical and horizontal scan, and clocked by the NTSC color subcarrier 3.57945 MHz, the Video Weaver operated in real time. The digital outputs were routed into the "quad" four channel analog colorizers in the BDVS (Beck Direct Video Synthesizer.) Control of the digital warp and weft and feedback counter paths was via a modified Texas Instruments hand held calculator. Later in 1976 Beck constructed a second Video Weaver using three wire wrap boards with 74C00 series CMOS digital ICs for lower power use. An Intel 80C51 single chip microcontroller was also added to the design for logic control, again via a modified Texas Instruments hand held calculator keyboard. In 1991 Beck was honored with an invitation to participate in the Ars Electronica exhibition "Pioneers of Electronic Art" in Linz Austria. Curated by prominent video artist Woody Vasulka and German scholar Peter Weibel, it was a glorious event, including interactive Laser Video Discs. An excellent catalog was also produced for the exhibition in Linz, Austria. For Ars Electronica Beck constructed a third "Video Weaver (Reincarnated)." This version condensed all of the digital logic ICs (over 300 of them!) into a single digital IC, the Xilinx FPGA (field programmable gate array). However Beck retained the quad analog RGB colorizers. Control of the Video Weaver digital parameters was via a large matrix switch array board. This mimics the warp and weft arrangements found on textile weaving looms. The Video Weaver Reincarnated was again exhibited as a nine screen video sculpture at the first Kwang-ju Biennale "InfoArts" at the invitation of video master Nam June Paik in 1995.

CYCLES (1973-1974)
CYCLES utilizes ideographic glyphs in declaring the cyclic principles. "Time is rhythmic; the heart beats, the respiration goes in and out; time is cyclical." (From The Parable of The Beast.) CYCLES was made in 1973-1974 by Stephen "Steve" Beck and Jordan Belson. Technically, CYCLES was a collaboration and fusion of Beck's Direct Video Synthesis and Belson's optical film methods. The film depicts an interpretation of Sri Yukteswar (Yukteswar Giri) and his book The Holy Science. In particular, the Electric Cycles, (or Daiva Yugas). In one sense the film is an archetypal allegory of these concepts. Spanning a time period of 24,000 years the state of development of human on Earth begins at a very high level of consciousness. Over time however it gradually recedes into a dark and undeveloped state. Just as the "clock" diagram in the book depicts the current era of the early 21st century as the a time when human consciousness is increasing and refining in quality. However, Yukteswar notes that this is also an era of "pleasure and pain" in equal proportions for Earth. Structurally the film follows a musical theme and variations concept. There are 12 "verses" in the work, each verse consisting of 12 elements. An opening Gaia Goddess presents a glowing ring of fire to give birth to and launch the new cycle of Yugas. The colors are light and golden. But then, gradually, there begins a descent into a dark and stormy time. At times human figures can be glimpsed, at points which represent changes to a new phase or cycle. An image appears of a city with tall buildings and lights. This corresponded to 1974 on the calendar of the work. Eventually the human figures appear again, rising and holding, instead of falling and descending and separating. The final verse depicts the Tandava Dance of Lord Shiva, who is said to appear and dance his dance a the conclusion of a Universal Era. The dance of Shiva results in all of the material world being reduced to subatomic plasma energy. From whence a new Universe can emerge and be reborn fresh and vitalized. The run time of the complete work is about 10 minutes. Beck Source File Reference: BeckClip_Cycles Partially Restored H264

Dance of Shiva (1973)
A visualization of the Tandava Dance of Shiva, the legendary figure of Hindu mythology. Shiva's Tandava is described as a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. Made by Steve Beck and colleagues in 1973 for a live, on stage performance at The Electric Concert in Dallas, Texas. Dancer is mime artist Noel Parenti. Music by Warner Jepson. Concept partner, Brice Howard, Executive Producer. A production of the National Center for Experiments in Television at KQED-TV, San Francisco. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation - thank you Howard Klein! The Electric Concert was a video multimedia show at the Bob Hope Memorial Theater. At SMU - Southern Methodist University. The original three nights shows sold out, so four more shows were added, 2400 audience members per show! Also participating in The Electric Concert was modern dancer and choreographer Katie McGuire. Her original dance piece "The Metaphysical Circuit" was performed live on stage with 12 dancers. A 16 feet wide by 12 feet high video screen was illuminated with live color video using the Eidophor Video Projector from Switzerland. Beck Source File Reference: BeckClip_Shiva_1080_H264

Illuminated Music 1 (1972)
This was a live on the air television broadcast on KQED-TV in San Francisco on May 19, 1972. Beck's Direct Video Synthesizer was technically superior in that its video signal was true NTSC broadcast quality. This enabled executive producers Brice Howard and Paul Kauffman of the NCET to reach an agreement with the NABET television engineers union to permit Beck to "live on the air." At that time the KQED-TV transmitter had 75,000 watts of power. But the new TV antenna high atop Mount Sutro in San Francisco boosted that to over 300,000 watts of effective radiated power. Beck's development as a videographer / synthesist was still primitive, so he selected a musical piece to "Illuminate" that would carry the time flow. Jazz master, the great Yusef Lateef (RIP) had just release a new album with a song "Like It Is." The basso ostinato of the song carried the time progression of the performance. Beck had practiced and rehearsed many hours to perform the 7:45 minutes without any edits, LIVE! The opening scene shows Beck at his Beck Direct Video Synthesizer (and an auxiliary Buchla analog music synthesizer to the right to provide additional waveforms, but not any music.) The camera zooms into the video screen, but just as the images begin the station engineers faded over to Beck's direct video signal. The performance was part of a 30 minute TV "magazine" show "Scan" hosted by journalist Joe Russin. Earlier in the show Mr. Russin interviewed Beck at the synthesizer. Another early work of Beck's "Conception" was also shown, playing back from a 2" Quadruplex videotape which had been previously recorded, scene by scene, with only cut edits. After the show ended at 8:00 PM Beck was told that the telephone switchboard at KQED-TV had "lit up like a Christmas Tree" with hundreds of persons calling in. Saying how cool this was, when was it going to be on again, how it transformed their television, etc. But Beck's favorite caller was a man who was very upset and told the station "What did you do to my television?!?!?! It's broken now!" (There never was another live on the air broadcast by Beck, nor was there ever any by any other person or synthesizer.)