Stephen Jones

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Born 1951 in Sydney. Artist, electronics engineer, theorist. Education: Graduated from ANU (B.Sc. 1973). Lives in Sydney. For many years (1983-1992) he was the video-maker for the electronic music band Severed Heads. He is an experienced video editor and electronic engineer having developed equipment ranging from analogue video synthesisers to DVD synchronisers, and currently builds interactive installation devices for artists. He also provides conservation and preservation services in the electronic and video arts. He has just written a book on the history of the early decades of electronic art in Australia (to 1975).

Personal note on own activities: "I have been active in video production since 1974. My first involvement was with Bush Video and the Paddington Video Access Centre where I learnt video editing and technical production. I subsequently taught myself electronics and built several video synthesisers for use in video art performance and installation work. I have also provided technical support in the "new media" arts (when they were still known as Video Art). Positions included technical support for the Biennale of Sydney 1976, 79, 82, 84, technical support for Nam June Paik & Charlotte Moorman (April 1976) at Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. Technical installation of other major exhibitions including Kaboom (1994) and Sound in Space (1995) both at the MCA, Sydney. I provided Technical Producer support for a number of video productions at the Paddington Video Access Centre from 1976-78. I curated the VideOzone show at the Ozone Cinema (now the Chauvel) Paddington Town Hall, July 1978. I was technical manager for the first two Australian Video Festivals, 1986 and 1987.

In 1982 I set up Heuristic Video, a post-production facility for independent video production. I built the facility and acted as editor for many of the works that were produced there. In 1983 I joined up with the electronic band Severed Heads and produced the world’s first live video performances with a band as part of the band's touring show. I continued to work with Severed Heads until 1992.

In 1989 I joined the engineering department of Pro-Image Post as part of the installation team building their new facilities. When these were up and running I stayed on to do the full documentation of the facility and then to develop the infrastructure for one of the first fully digital video post-production facilities in Australia. This involved the design and implementation of digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital converters, digital video switching and distribution amplifiers, the necessary cabling, installation as well as operational staff training.

On completion of this project I became a freelance installation engineer and designer looking after Garner McLennan Design's facilities and later developing a MJPEG video converter board for the Shotlister Non-Linear editing system. I also went back to technical support provision for artists and museums. I built custom electronics for works by Rebecca Cummins, Robyn Backen and other artists. I have since continued to design and manufacture small runs of electronic devices for various clients both in the arts and museums and the commercial video industry as well as for clients in Japan.

From 1996 to 1999 I worked on a project called the Brain Project. The aim was to develop a survey of the study of Consciousness in western science and philosophy. Areas covered included early and contemporary philosophy of mind, neuroscience, neural network theory and Al, organised systems, cybernetics and complex systems. There is a web-site and I produced a CD-Rom of this research.

In 1998 I produced a first pass of a history of the electronically generated image in Australia for dLux Media Arts for a symposium called Synthetics, which was presented at the PowerHouse museum in July that year. This consisted in 8 important pioneers in computer graphics and video synthesis discussing their early work. I presented my work with video synthesisers here. I also built and showed The Reading Machine: Towards the realisation of Charles' and Ada’s future, a Brain Project installation at ArtSpace, Sydney, July, 1998.

In 1999 I spent 7 months working at ATR (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute) in Kyoto, Japan, building custom electronics for two major Artificial Life installation works [Haze Express shown at Ars Electronica 1999, and Pico_Scan shown at Sieben Hugel, Berlin, 2000] by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau.

In 2000, I installed Sommerer and Mignonneau’s Pico_Scan at the Sieben Hugel exhibition, in the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany. I attended, and presented a paper, at Alife 7, in Oregon, USA, August 1st - 7th, 2000, and likewise Consciousness Reframed 3, Caerleon Wales, August 23rd - 25th, 2000. I produced the visual layer for the Sinfonye (led by Stevie Wishart) performance of music by Hildegard von Bingen in Der Alte Misuk Tage at the Brandenburg Dom, August, 2000. This consisted in imagery based on the von Bingen manuscript paintings plus the lighting and staging of the concert. I returned to ATR, Japan, to build the user interface for Sommerer & Mignonneau’s Riding the Net, Sept - Nov, 2000. Presented Synthetics at ISEA 2000, Paris, December 10th, 2000.

Since 2001 I have been primarily engaged in researching the history and development of art & technology as represented in computer graphics and electronic and digital imaging in Australia. I continue working as an electronics designer for artist’s interactive projects and other prototype development. Clients include Rebecca Cummings, Robyn Backen and Rea. I have contributed papers to Consciousness Reframed IV at BEAP in Perth and to the Computer Art Congress in Paris France, December, 2002.

Between 1999 and 2004 I have done a range of experimental technical development projects for the Advanced Telecommunications Research Laboratory in Kyoto, Japan, and for television industry and art installation projects in Sydney. The most recent is a multi-DVD player synchroniser system for use in museums. I have had several exhibitions of my own digital artwork and have continued the research of the history of the electronic arts in Australia."