Bill Etra

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Bill Etra (Born March 27, 1947) is a live video pioneer and the co-inventor (with Steve Rutt) of the Rutt/Etra Video Synthesizer.[1]

Etra worked briefly as a professional cameraman, then studied film at NYU. He began teaching experimental television at NYU before he graduated.[2]

In 1971, Etra and video artists Woody and Steina Vesulka started a performance space at The Kitchen.[3]

Using the Rutt-Etra synthesizer, Etra made Narcissikon with his wife Louise.[4]“This was my first Rutt-Etra piece. The initial picture is Louise sitting against a black background. She’s got an output monitor she can watch, and I put it in a circle wipe, feed it into the Rutt-Etra synthesizer, get a white line wipe, put Louise’s face into that, take it out of the Rutt-Etra, and outline it in the synthesizer, and Louise is on the intercom, and she’s talking to me and I’m talking to her, and we actually ran through it twice."[5]

Another early piece was Heartbeat, in which Louise Etra sits in a chair in a studio, while a circle bounces on screen, blipping in time to her amplified heartbeat. Bill comes in and kisses her; the sound grows; the circle bounces larger. Then he goes back to the control room, she relaxes, and the circle returns to normal.[6]

At WNET, Etra created a video based on an Edgar Allan Poe story, Silence, with David Silver narrating. “That scared me so much I stayed away from narrative for years and years,” Etra commented.[7]

Etra attempted a symphonic work at the Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester, New York, when Central Maine Power Music Company played space music, to the accompaniment of the star maps of the planetarium, plus Etra’s video pictures of the musicians projected onto the stars.[8]

He has worked for Warner-Atari, Sun Microsystems, and LucasFilms, and produced digital video for New York clubs and theater.[9]

He has cooperated with Benton Bainbridge on a documentary about his life.[10]

He is currently developing (with Anton Marini) a video synthesizer plug-in that emulates the Rutt/Etra Video Synthesizer.

Mr. Etra holds several patents, including developments for 3D television and text-based (versus time-code based) editing of video.

His video art work is in the permanent collections of the Museums of Modern Art in Mexico City, Tokyo and Cologne and the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Beauborg in Paris.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rutt-Etra VSynth". Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Logan Hill (January 19, 2000), A Multimedia Life, Plus Weasels Wired. Accessed 14 July 2014
  3. ^ Logan Hill (January 19, 2000), A Multimedia Life, Plus Weasels Wired. Accessed 14 July 2014
  4. ^ Bill and Louise Etra, Narcissikon on YouTube. Accessed 13 July 2014.
  5. ^ Jonathan Price, 'Video Visions: a Medium Discovers Itself', New American Library, New York, 1977, ASIN: B00ECDT4V2. Chapter reprinted at http://museumzero.blogspot.com/2014/07/bill-etra-starts-out-in-video.html. Bill Etra Starts Out in Video. Accessed July 14, 2014.
  6. ^ Jonathan Price, 'Video Visions: a Medium Discovers Itself', New American Library, New York, 1977, ASIN: B00ECDT4V2. Chapter reprinted at http://museumzero.blogspot.com/2014/07/bill-etra-starts-out-in-video.html. Bill Etra Starts Out in Video. Accessed July 14, 2014.
  7. ^ Jonathan Price, 'Video Visions: a Medium Discovers Itself', New American Library, New York, 1977, ASIN: B00ECDT4V2. Chapter reprinted at http://museumzero.blogspot.com/2014/07/bill-etra-starts-out-in-video.html. Bill Etra Starts Out in Video. Accessed July 14, 2014.
  8. ^ Jonathan Price, 'Video Visions: a Medium Discovers Itself', New American Library, New York, 1977, ASIN: B00ECDT4V2. Chapter reprinted at http://museumzero.blogspot.com/2014/07/bill-etra-starts-out-in-video.html. Bill Etra Starts Out in Video. Accessed July 14, 2014.
  9. ^ Logan Hill (January 19, 2000), A Multimedia Life, Plus Weasels Wired. Accessed 14 July 2014
  10. ^ Benton C Bainbridge and Minou Maguna, Teaser for documentary about his life. Accessed 14 July 2014

Books[edit]

  • Price, Jonathan, 'Video Visions: a Medium Discovers Itself', New American Library, New York, 1977, ASIN: B00ECDT4V2

External links[edit]