1984-1987 - THE RALEIGH, NC RADIO SHACK COCO CLUB.
Because I cannot understand how the computer works in any depth, I start attending the Raleigh CoCo Club meetings. (CoCo is what we called the Color Computer for short). This group is one of the most exciting I have had the pleasure of being involved with. Rank is based on skill not age. Two of the brightest people in the club are a 55 year old guy who has worked for IBM all his life and a 12 year old kid who knows the machine inside out. They treat each other as equals. At every meeting I learn something new. Due to the excitement and inspiration of these "nerds" I eventually learn to program in the BASIC computer language. My proudest moment is when I write a program that writes a program.I believe in intuition:
I am not sure how computers are going to fit with my other creative work. In the beginning it is completely different and time consuming hobby. Yet I feel that it will all come together in some fashion. Learning about computers is one of the smartest and one of the most intuitive gambles that I take.
The Radio Shack Color Computer or the CoCo as we affectionately called it. My first one has 32K memory, an 8 bit .8 MHz processor and tape storage (no disk drive).
My small printer plotter made by Radio Shack was controlled by the BASIC computer language. There were virtually no programs to run it. So I learned BASIC. Here is an example of a simple program and the picture that the program drew.
1984 - SIXTH ONE-MAN SHOW
I have a show of polaroids at the Durham Arts Council. After my step-mother's stroke, my father is now living in the house next door to me. I take him to the show in a wheel chair. He is pleased that I am exhibiting and, of course, I am pleased that he likes the work.1987 - WE MOVE TO THE COAST.
My wife and I move to a house near Cape Hatteras. We buy the house for a song. We live in a small fishing village which is where we live to this day.
1987 - I BUY A TRAILER AT THE BEACH.
After my wife and I move near the coast, I buy a trailer at the beach for $800. It is small and the perfect place to write and create. Having just the right place makes a big difference, and I write hundreds of pages here.1988-1992 - I PARTIALLY INVENT A WAY TO DIGITALLY PHOTOGRAPH WITH THE RADIO SHACK COLOR COMPUTER (COCO).
I buy a commercial program and hardware that will scan a video image. I buy a VCR that has a perfect still frame feature. Then I get a cam-corder. Once I get this to work, I realize that the scanned image is cannot be used by any graphics program (it has its own unique format). I have to invent a way to convert the image to a standard format. This takes me about six months (on an off). Finally with the aid of a little assembly code I program the computer to read and convert each dot from the unusable format to a more standard form (a BASIC graphics file). This can be read by a regular graphics program which converts it again into another format. Hew!!! But it works and works well.
1988 - PHILLIP GLASS FESTIVAL AT DUKE.
We go to Duke University to hear the modern composer, Phillip Glass, speak. We see a performance of his 1000 Airplanes on the Roof which is a divine piece of music and see a movie that he wrote music for.1988 - WASHINGTON, DC MALL.
We stay at an old hotel near the mall in Washington. For a week we visit several galleries each day. At the Smithsonian I see the "naive" masterpiece "The Throne" by James Hampton, made of aluminum chewing gum wrappers and light bulbs.1989 - BACK INJURY - PHOTOGRAPHY PUT ON HOLD INDEFINITELY.
I spend about a year putting together an inexpensive 2 1/4 camera system with a used Bronica S2a. Then I build a darkroom at a friend's house. The second time I use it, I injure my back. This injury continue for the next year and I never am able to use the darkroom again. I wonder if I will ever return to photography, my principle art form.
1989-1991 - ESSAYS, DRAMA, SHORT STORIES, HAIKUS.
I write an extensive series of essays (masquerading as interviews) with a fictitious character, Kirk Elbod. (Kirk Elbod, get it?) In addition I write short short stories about the experience of love at different ages, a one-act play, and numerous haiku poems. I mail my short stories out to dozens of small magazines. I get great rejection slips (very well written but...) and no takers. Finally I send out my haikus and five are accepted almost immediately by black bough in Flemington, NJ. Another is published by New Hope National Review from the United Kingdom. Later on the Internet, I call some of my short stories monologues (since some were spoken by one person) and put them under a drama heading. This becomes one of my most popular sites which has been visited by almost 3000 unique hits. (I have gotten dozens of requests for permission to perform these, and I always give permission to perform these for free as long as it is for a non-profit purpose.)For short stories, haiku poetry, and essays:
For a one-act play and monologues:
1989 - WE GET CABLE TELEVISION
We never believe that we will get cable out in the rural area where we live, yet we do. As a movie buff, I am now able to see all the old movies that I have been dying to watch. I watch about five movies a week and do so for the next ten years.1990 - SEVENTH ONE-MAN SHOW.
This show in Beaufort is like no other. It combines large photographs, small polaroids, computer art, and haiku poetry which is placed in a three-ring binder, one poem to a page. (This show which felt like such a mish-mash at the time, foreshadowed my web sites that I put together in the late 1990's.)
1990-1994 - MUYBRIDGE DIGITIZED PHOTOGRAPHS.
I digitize the work of Muybridge (no longer under copyright) using the technique mentioned earlier (see 1988 - I invent a way) and add color. I write a number of programs to help me with this work including an ability to save palettes so that I can try these out on each new scanned picture. I show color inkjet prints of this work to the Society for Photographic Education. The reception is generally very cold.
The next winter I get an Honorable Mention in the local art show which makes me feel like I am on the right track. I go ahead and put together a complete show (for no particular reason). Soon after this a local gallery gives me a one -man show of this work and the show is very successful. Sanskrit magazine (UNC -Charlotte) publishes two images in full color which look incredible. Then the Greenville Museum in Greenville NC has a show of these in its North Gallery which is followed by a display of these images at the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida. I realize that people either love or hate this work.
1992 - EIGHTH ONE-MAN SHOW.
The Muybridge digital photographs are exhibited at the Cambron-Black Gallery in Beaufort North Carolina. I feel good about the show even though I realize many people are puzzled.
Article in the local paper about reworking 100 year old photographs with the computer.
1993 - I BUILD ANOTHER DARKROOM BUT NEVER GET TO USE IT.
I get a handyman to build a small darkroom but never get to use it. The injury that I did to my back still bothers me and I am unable to work for any length of time, especially with the bending, stooping and lifting required by photography.1994-1999 - WILMINGTON, NC.
Because it is close, my wife and I start going to Wilmington, NC. We don't know very many people there but with a full blown film industry, the oldest theater group and theater in the country, and a fine art museum, it seems like a good place to be. We stay at an old motel, which I probably passed on my drive up north when I was six years old in 1951. I am still not sure what is going to happen for us artistically in Wilmington, but I have this feeling that something is going to work eventually. Stay tuned.1994 - FIRST MUSEUM SHOW.
The Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville NC likes my Muybridge "Woman in Motion" series and schedules a show in their North Gallery. After so much negative response, I am astonished that a museum wants it. It just shows that "You have to keep the faith, baby!"