Lunch to rave in cyberspace
Global community's tech-event extends use of experimental art to Liberty Lunch

DATE: September 15, 1994
PUBLICATION: Austin American-Statesman

PAGE: 11

Central Texas' experimental arts community is an extended family of sorts. Though ZIP codes differ greatly, running the gamut from Smithville to the Yoga House near the University of Texas, from Bastrop to the Silicon Hills on Austin's west side, all members talk the same language: tech-speak.

The circle includes lightwave researchers, a man whose work with robotics was featured in Newsweek, body piercing professionals, gestural communication pioneers, software designers, dream creators, tribal percussionists and T-shirt painters.

The clan will introduce itself by tele-presence to distant relatives around the global village this Saturday at Liberty Lunch when "Zeus - The Cyber Rave: Project Global Link" blasts off.

Zeus is a multimedia, multiple environment event with Austin's Jelly Bean Productions' Lara Thomson and Wilson Leary as hosts. It will feature a diverse roster of characters ranging from medicine men to a robot band.

"It's several parties happening simultaneously under one roof," Leary said. "We've invited all kinds of tooney people, each a brother and sister in techno-arms."

Thomson, Jelly Bean's founder, and Leary, creative director, sought out or discovered each of Zeus' attractions through friends. "We bring technology to the regular Joe," Thomson said. "Most of these systems we'll have are used by major corporations and are very rarely seen by people like myself. Our event brings out and invites people to use the technology in a user-friendly environment."

Among the list of "subcontractors" on hand for Zeus are Craig and Charlene Sainsott, whose Shrinking Robot Heads, "an industrial, voodoo, surplus trash, ethno-pneumatic, meta-kinetic, solenoid rhythm orchestra" include Maraca Man, Xerox Madonna, Big Mac and the Jambo Singers, among others.

Then there's Brooks Coleman of the Austin Robot Group, who's deemed a miracle worker based on his Great Wall of Gizmos and floating blimp sculptures; Michael Moss of Nootrophia, whose super-vitamin "Smart Drinks" are said to enhance mental and thought capacity; Omega Metals' Patrick Wrobel and Susan Kolancy, who will provide ornaments and the services for body piercing; Eyecon Interactive Media's Karen Pittman and John Witham, who are at the forefront of creating a cybernetic world using virtual reality; Lisa Beckard, owner of Topos Gallery, who'll do installation art; and musician Fred Mitchim, a fusion/space soundmaster. To top off the sensory overload, High End Systems & Lightwave Research are lighting the 15,000-watt dance floor - house, trance and techno music are on the menu - that will make Liberty Lunch the envy of the club world for one night.

"The common denominator of our subcontractors is their ability to use their technology to enlighten and bring together different kinds of people," Thomson said. "We all envision the longevity of the rave scene, not so much where it is now, but where it's going. We'll soon have the ability to create a spiritual dance with each other in cyberspace to bring about global harmony. The younger generation has the uninhibited will to seek out new life and new civilizations."

Zeus' highlight is "Project Global Link," Eyecon's cyberart creation. Throughout the evening, Liberty Lunch will be linked up to Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Denver; San Francisco; Atlanta; and Toronto and Windsor, Ontario, over the Interactive Video Network. Users of IVN will interact by standing before a video camera while their image is transferred by the Mandala VR system running on an Amiga Toaster Editing video-digitizer-equipped computer, then sent through a video phone and received on a large screen TV projector thousands of miles away, where they will romp in digitized "cyberspace."

"Project Global Link," sponsored by XL ent., might be a harbinger of things to come in Austin. The Eden Matrix Online Service recently broadcast a live performance by Machine Screw at the Black Cat Lounge via the Internet on Sept. 7.

Technology didn't wash up on Austin's shore accidentally. The proliferation of raves and high-tech happenings are an indication that new art is being manufactured while the town collectively nurtures traditional forms of music and entertainment. Like Congress Avenue's bridge bats on a midnight bug hunt, Austin artists continue to follow their instincts.

Illustration: COLOR PHOTOS

Charlene Sainsott will present Shrinking Robot Heads at `Zeus - The Cyber Rave: Project Global Link' on Saturday at Liberty Lunch.