Dan Zen started with mechanical light shows in the nineties and then moved to digital light shows in the twenty-tens. For years, he projected on his own bands and now does a show a couple times a year for friends. Let there be light!▲ TOP LEFT is picture of Dan Zen (1988) preparing one of his light shows for the Chessman show at Leander Boatclub in Hamilton. This was an oil drop mix in between two glass planes separated with caulking manually moved for the psychedelic opening act, the Mind Set. MIDDLE BOTTOM and above middle show other oil drop works (more later). MIDDLE LEFT shows patterns from video feedback Zen discovered by switching an early video camera to an inverse setting and pointing at the resulting playback on a TV. This video was later projected on the last Gnostics space rock show seen in the middle section at right. LEFT BOTTOM shows Zen's op art room and at FAR RIGHT a variety of moving visual op art. Later, Zen would go on to create Opartica based on these early interests. The small drawing in the center section at left is from the seventies when Zen was about ten. TOP RIGHT shows a prototype for the light show constructed below and projected at TOP MIDDLE. The prototype has a little window to view the results of hand spun patterns (more later).
▲ Chessmen (1988) at the Op Hop, Hamilton, Canada. Op Art slide show with go go dancers. Dan Zen is the lead singer / song writer / guitarist - pictured with maracas and black and white blob cravat. Zen would then go on to create Opartica and project that on bands with digital projectors.
▲ Cycling Strip (1989). Dan Zen cut out a section of an old slide projector and inserted a patterned strip that would be pulled around a motor shaft. The projector would then project the sum of the strips. Zen often used overlapping circles to make a spotlight effect in the room or on the band.
▲ Motor oil drop show (1996). In the eighties and nineties, Dan Zen made a dozen mechanical light shows with motors purchased at Steel City Surplus or taken from humidifiers, etc. Zen's early oil drop shows were between Plexiglas plates that would circle and oscillate. This was followed with the pinched bag approach which was one of the more longer lasting light show machines. In the picture above is a spindle that would wind up string to pull hinged plates of plastic together to squeeze two plastic baggies of oil and colored water mixtures. Once the spindle winding reached the end, it the string would slip off thereby releasing the plates and letting the baggies sag. Note the swivels to prevent the string from winding.
▲ Atomic Fireball - Thee Gnostics at the Speedway - just after Dan Zen left Thee Gnostics to make interactive works like the McLuhan disc and start Dan Zen. Zen filmed the show and the oil drop lights can be seen in the background - perhaps more in part 2 of Atomic Fireball.▲ Here is a video of the oil drop show mechanics in action at the end of Thee Gnostics show - the pack up.▲ Dan Zen Light Show Construction for overhead projector (1996). This light show used a motor mounted on a side of a wooden frame. The motor had an axle made from a cheap paintbrush handle that passed through a hole drilled in the frame to turn a wheel with a rubber band around it for traction. The wheel turned an acetate with an op art pattern. The acetate spun around a nail through a Plexiglas bottom and was kept in place by wire spans attached to eye hooks to the frame. Note that the motor is geared down so that it would rotate slowly. See the results below.
▲ Thee Gnostics play the Tivoli, Hamilton, Canada 1996. The Tivoli is a huge old movie theatre in Hamilton as can be seen in the middle section of the video. See the Dan Zen Music Exhibit for more on Thee Gnostics.▲ Last Mechanical Light Show (2014) - for Thee Gnostics Reunion, Dan Zen made a mechanical light show around an overhead projector. On the overhead were the inside of keyboards which are patterned acetates that electrically connect the keys. Each keyboard has a different design and they are wonderful! Zen opened up dozens of keyboards and made bookmarks from them for gifts. Above the acetate Zen positioned a tray of water that would wobble and cause the water to ripple thereby warbling the projected image. Zen made a dozen cyber medallions that would hang on the light show and encourage people to wobble the water when lightly tugging at the medallions. He then gave these medallions out to people after the show. The whole light show was encased in Zen's kids' time machine (cardboard box).
▲ Supernova - The Gnostics at the Vishnu Rama (1995) - Oil drops in the center then a mixed video by Gaven at the edges that feature various footage of Thee Gnostics and some Dan Zen op art video feedback visuals. The first video projector show organized by Zen. Some excellent sounds and visuals at 5:30.▲ Cosmonaut - The Gnostics at the X-Club (1995) - Oil drops and then slides of black and white art by Tomas.▲ Supernova - The Gnostics at Gorgolon Release (1995) - Oil drops and then a compilation of optical slides by Gaven.
▲ Ride Theory (2006) at the Corktown in Hamilton, Canada. Dan Zen started doing light shows for friends' bands after he stopped playing in Thee Gnostics. Lights for this show were saucers and op art rays with posterized pics of band members. Not shown are posterized big box stores making it look like some alien abduction theme. Zen made the saucers with buttons and wire and still has them.▲ Ride Theory at the Casbah in Hamilton (2007) - The Ride Theory show featured night time shots of cars put into Zen Pan - an unreleased motion tool by Zen.▲ Space Rock Band Simply Saucer in Dan Zen Tilator Light Show at Ciao Edie in Toronto With Zoom Long Exposure (2007).▲ Christmas / Reign Ghost at Sneaky Dee's Toronto (2007) - Bob Bryden with the Saffron Sect as backup. The light show had people waving their arms to be part of it. Quite an experience! This was Dan Zen's first light show using microphone through-put to move a displacement map over Zen's Focuso pictures. Programmed in Adobe Flash. Zen would go on to make a series of music frequency driven light shows for Bob Bryden.▲ Try the Flash lightshow - requires a mic or camera and Flash. Once accepting the camera, then you can make noise to activate the light show. Click the picture then use A-L and Q-Y to get different pictures and 1,2,3...0 for strength of sound activation. TRY SHOW▲ Try the Magic Shadows Flash light show (2011) - requires a mic or camera and Flash. Once accepting the camera, then you can make noise to activate the light show. This light show was used for the Magic Shadows at This Ain't Hollywood in Hamilton. TRY SHOW
▲ Hawkwind Tribute Night - This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton (2011) Bunch of Hamilton Space Rock lovers getting together for a Hawkwind night at This Ain't Hollywood in Hamilton. Digital lights by Dan Zen, analog lights by General Chaos - fun night! Zen's lights were from Opartica Tunnel an online op art making tool by Dan Zen. TRY OPARTICA
▲ The Saffron Sect at This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton (Feb 2014) Lights made sections (sect) randomly and would cut across their band name if shown. Made in Adobe Flash by Dan Zen in one hour of coding.▲ Hollow Earth at This Ain't Hollywood (2014). Frequency Ring made in Adobe Flash with Dan Zen's Woodpecker code from 2011▲ The Saffron Sect at This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton (Sep 2014) lights made with two long strips moving in different directions and overlapping with blend modes. Similar to the physical strips in the slide projector but this time digital. Pictures provided by Gaven and collaged by Zen. Also shown in Toronto twice - once before this and once after this.
▲ Bob Bryden - Yorkville Days at This Ain't Hollywood 2014. A series of 12 different frequency activated lights made by Dan Zen with Adobe Flash and Zen's Woodpecker open source code.
▲ Simply Saucer - Casbah in Hamilton, Canada (2014). Dan Zen uses the crossing strips technique again - made in Adobe Flash. This time his pictures of Hamilton Factories blended with cosmic pictures of galaxies.