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Ramón Sender Baryón

Naked Close-Up

San Francisco in the 1960s was an incubator for new ways of thinking about film making, music, art, and indeed, life. It was a revolution in the arts and a revolution in the way we thought about our lives. The opening words of the book, in a letter from Walter Diverge, filmmaker, to his wife Sarah, set the tone: “Forget the rules of vision that we have learned, the theories, the prejudices we were taught, and return to seeing nakedly without labels or preconceptions, confronting each new image as a fresh encounter. For the number of colors are infinite, even in a cubic inch of empty space.” That’s the idea behind this book. It’s about new realities, naked, without the clothing of conventional preconceptions, and close up.

Ramón Sender Barayón puts us in the middle of the revolution. He invents the Multi-Media Space-Time Lab as a center in which a filmmaker and a group of musicians explore new freedoms in film and music. Their manifesto started with: “The San Francisco Multi-Media Space-Time Lab was founded in 1962 by Albert Sprigg and Perennia Applegarden to fill the need for a center where artists and composers could gain access to the equipment necessary to experiment with new techniques in the audio-visual realms …”

The group of artists who inhabit the Lab are imaginary amalgams of the San Francisco art scene at the time. They do interesting things. Sometimes enjoyably zany, they are always serious about their work, and they create new artworks and models that, from today’s perspective, opened up new ways to think about film, art and music.

As Walt Diverge says towards the end of the book, “I don’t think any of us yet realize what a special thing the Lab has been.”

That’s the reality in the book. As Ramón Sender Barayón points out, “That’s what this book is about. It’s about a special thing.”

Joel Chadabe

 

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Composer, visual artist and writer, Ramón Sender Barayón was the co-director, with Morton Subotnick, of the San Francisco Tape Music Center from 1962 to 1966. During that time he collaborated with composers and visual artists including Pauline Oliveros, Tony Martin, Joseph Byrd, Terry Riley, William Maginnis, and many others in the San Francisco art world at the time. He also collaborated with Don Buchla in the design of the first Buchla synthesizers.

In 1966, with Ken Kesey and Stewart Brand, he co-produced the Trips Festival, a three-day event that, in conjunction with The Merry Pranksters, brought together the nascent hippie movement for the first time.

Following 1966, he was a resident at Lou Gottlieb’s Morning Star Ranch, then the Ahimsa Ranch. He lived and worked in and around Occidental, California, until 1979, then collaborated with author Alicia Bay Laurel on ‘Being of the Sun’. In 1989, he founded the Peregrine Foundation, of which he was the administrator until 1999.

He holds a B. Mus from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Erickson, and an M.A. from Mills College, where he studied with Darius Milhaud. He currently lives in San Francisco and works as an artist, musician, and author.

 


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