A Cool New World

In August of 1991 a message arrived that would change my life.

Henry Brimmer, publisher of Photo Metro Magazine had called to offer me some free time in front of a computer. Hmmmmm. He said I could check out Photoshop, whatever that was, and do some "cool new stuff" with my photography. Thus began a total about face in my life. I was always intellectually interested in computing and had even attended the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the new AppleŽ II debuted, knowing that this event was historic. I sensed that in the 1970's computers were way too dry and mathematical for me. When they got easier to use and spoke the same language I did, then I would return.

Ten years later I knew something was afoot when I visited Jerry Pompili at Bill Graham Presents. He had a little Mac computer on his desk and there was this squadron of toasters flying across the screen. I was too embarrassed to ask what this was about but I knew  these flying toasters were of great significance.

After arriving at Henry's workshop, he put a photo up on the screen of a little blonde, blue eyed girl wearing an enormous red straw hat and said, "click here; drag this over there" and so forth. I could not believe what I was seeing. I was literally making miracles happen. I was doing things in seconds that had taken my air brusher one entire hour to do- at $100 per. Things I always wished I could do but didn't have that other lifetime necessary for mastery. The rapture I felt was exactly the same as I had experienced years before when I first picked up a still camera and watched the magic transpire.

What I didn't realize that day was that I would be engulfed and swallowed whole; devoured and chewed up. Control of my life was not my own anymore, well, at least not for awhile anyway. Like Alice down the well, I tumbled into other worlds- Autonomous Zones; Synthesia; Cyberspace. For me it was more like "Cyberia." Well, I've got control of my life back again... or at least the illusion of it. Thanks Henry.

Soon after this I ran across Instructional Designer Steve Schatz who worked at the Center for Electronic Art. I spent an amazing hour with him and was encouraged to study at CEA. After "kvelling" (rhapsodizing) about how wonderful the computer age is, Steve left me with these parting words... "Robert, It's a Cool New World."

A Cool New World indeed!

Signature: Robert Altman
San Francisco, November 1994 . . . (Updated August 1995)

I would like to acknowledge:

Harold Hedelman: President and founder of the Center for Electronic Art, for his vision and devotion to the Center. Even though I continually test his patience, Harold and CEA have provided the knowledge in mere months that would have taken me years to acquire.

Eric Oesterle: My teacher and my friend whose joy in the medium and vast knowledge have made some of my computing moments in Hell do an 'about face.'

Stan Osborne: A new friend and lord of the Sun (our home server) for deciding that the World Wide Web is where the action is.He has forsaken his well earned leisure and so enables the "rest of us."

Michael (Rex) Booth: Our Production Manager and my co-worker. Michael is dedicated to CEA and possesses the phenomenal ability to master his art (most impressive) and enjoin it with the endless complexities of CEA's computer labs. He never ceases to amaze me.

Mike Walton Mike (our lab administrator) is my newest gumbah at CEA. Besides his vast array of digital talents, his integrity is a solid rock upon which I sometimes find solace. Thank you Sir for sticking your neck out over and above the call of duty.


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