brucine (broo'-seen), 1) n. Pharm., Chem. a bitter, poisonous alkaloid, C23H26N2O4, obtained from the nux vomica tree; 2) n. Bruce Bortin's 'low-impact' weblog

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ramona, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Demonic Mandolinist

Demonic Mandolinist, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

...his eyes glow with the intensity of his rockingness!

Gayle at the Fire

Gayle at the Fire, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Paul Gayle Ramona Mary

Paul Gayle Ramona Mary, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Thanksgiving at Red Dog


Foliage, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


Pico, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Looking for something


Clouds, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Digger Pine

Digger Pine, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


Sunset, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


this is supposed to have a 2-pixel black border

Stanislaus, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

View from Red Dog

Enterprise at the Airport

Enterprise at the Airport, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Enterprise Office

Enterprise Office, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Way then hell out beyond Hegenberger, fa cryin in the sink. Which merely foreshadowed the white-knuckled drive to the Coliseum Amtrak Terminal later that evening

Monday, November 24, 2008

Martha and Teresa

Martha and Teresa, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

At their 15 years at HAP anniversary party


90 SEVENTH ST ANNEX, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I want that algae investigated, stat!

Life Intrudes

Life Intrudes, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

...on the sere plain that guards the Annex

Arroyo SSI

Arroyo SSI, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Federal Building San Francisco

Eared Hat

Eared Hat

Julie for Xmas party

Julie for Xmas party, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lil Sharp & Big Blurry With Leaf Shadows

Here's the video I've been working on. Refracted laser light processed to a fair-thee-well. It's pretty abstract.

For something like an explanation, check out this elaborate post.
The audio is an excerpt from 9 Beet Stretch by Leif Inge

He is In Denial of Being Gay

He is In Denial of Being Gay, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

No on 8 Rally, Oakland 11/15. Brilliant ad-hoc anti-counter-demo fluidity.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blurry Watercolour'd Fairy Light

Blurry Watercolour'd Fairy Light, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

If you were the music that goes with this light, what would you sound like???

Cute Kitties

Cute Kitties, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Mary, Pearl & Ray

Prunt Vase Wears a Foam Hat

Prunt Vase Wears a Foam Hat, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


BAART-Hole, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Behind BAART Market. I think this one goes all the way down. I like the little suspended speck of filth.

Federal Matrix

Federal Matrix, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Architecture that says 'We Can Fuck With You"

Federal Scrim

Federal Scrim, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Clear Autumn Light

Clear Autumn Light, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

6th St San Francisco

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thomas Wilfred and Assistant

Thomas Wilfred and Assistant, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Photo is from Yale University manuscripts and Archives Digital Images Database
© 2000-2008, Yale University Library.


"The instrument works, yet I cannot get on the screen just the form development I want"" so the artist and the mechanic get together in the laboratory for a fresh start. The building of suitable light-projectors is a task requiring great patience and vision. "
Thomas Wilfred (1889-1968)

Danish musician, moved to the United States as a young man. Invented Lumia, the art of painting with light; founded the Art institute of light in New York.

"More and more artists of our generation have begun to contemplate light with the eyes of a sculptor gazing upon a block of marble - seeing in light a new and basic medium of expression with unlimited possibilities" (Wilfred)

Created light art instruments known as “Clavilux”. Many models for different purposes, the earliest was a large “color piano” to be used in large performances. Also “Table Model Clavilux”, “Clavilux Junior”, “Clavilux Silent Visual Carillon”. Clavilux Junior was a proto-interactive device for the home, resembling a television set, but showing abstract light compositions. It could be controlled by a wried remote-controller.
Wilfred areated large-scale “passive mode” moving light compositions (animated “with internally programmed instruments”), like Lumia Suite (MOMA, 1963-64). Influenced many others, including kinetic artists like Frank Malina.

More Thomas Wilfred information: a beautiful page by Richard Edgar Løvstrøm including a brief biography, description of the machines, photos and helpful links to further resources here:

"Light is the artist's sole medium of expression. He must mold it by optical means, almost as a sculptor models clay. He must add colour, and finally motion to his creation. Motion, the time dimension, demands that he must be a choreographer in space.

Thomas Wilfred"

See a loving appreciation of Wilfred's work, by Eugene Epstein

The following image from Mr Epstein's website is copyrighted © by Eugene Epstein, 2008. It's from "Untitled," Opus 161, a 22-month-long composition created in 1965/66 by Thomas Wilfred.

An animated sequence of images from this piece can be seen here:


Here's a Time Magazine review of a clavilux concert in 1925.

I think of Wilfred as a beautiful nut, and identify with him as such. Here's his tabulation of a survey that he conducted of his audiences of his concerts.

Photo is from Yale University manuscripts and Archives Digital Images Database
© 2000-2008, Yale University Library.

I just love that.

All of this by way of leading in to my recent video work. I've been doing some abstract stuff made of light. Unlike Wilfred, I've got access to lasers and video editing software. I don't have that intense,bug-eyed assistant guy, though.

Here's my set-up:

So the light from the laser-pointer gets refracted through the funky texture of the hand-blown glass tumbler (available from Esteban Prieto, Prieto Glass, 3264 Big Bend Blvd, St Louis, MO) onto the projection screen (the inside of the door to our apartment) and tghe image is recorded b y the video camera. The light changes shape because the tumbler is on a turntable. A slow turntable, slowest one I could find, but not really slow enough.

...and after a slew of video processing, this is what you get:

As I wrote to Eugene Epstein,
I think I remember seeing one of Wilfred's pieces at a show called Electronic/Minimal at the Milwaukee Art Center in the late 60's. I liked the idea of a piece of art which, every time you looked at it, it would be different.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

R.I.P. Phyllis the Furnace

RIP Phyllis, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

The Oldest Working Glass Furnace in the Bay Area hangs it up. Adios, Phyllis.


OBAMA OBAMA, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

14th St at Adeline, West Oakland

Beauty Paradise

Beauty Paradise, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

A little bit of golden light on a sliver car

Morning Light

Morning Light, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Walking to BART (to BAART) last Thursday

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