Edison Light Company,
Giant Edison Screw,
G'day pOoT', how's it goin'?
In the Beginning............(approx. a year after my life-changing Cosmic experiences) I bought a Standard 8 movie camera and began making my own experimental Movies. The first was titled "CERTAIN THINGS" (after THE GOON SHOW) and was basically a TRIP movie running for 20 mins. (if you didn't reverse it as soon as you reached the end). It was crammed with depth, meaning, prismatic colour and distorted superimposed imagery.
My second movie was "POPPY", which ran for 20 mins. and was shot at Australia's first 3 POP Festivals! 1968-69, again totally superimposed and somewhat trippy.
However it didn't take long for me to realize that the actual PROJECTION of the movies fascinated me more than the shooting! I started projecting my 8mm movies onto the peaks of the Catholic Church opposite the house I shared in Fitzroy, Melbourne, in the middle of the night.
People loved it!......all 50 watts of it! So, I had to get a slide projector!
My first was a second hand ALDIS 500 watt, to which I attached a slow motor and Meccano shaft to carry 7" glass or perspex wheels. I think that my next few were ALDIS's or WATERWORTHs a very Deco-ish cast Aluminium projector made in Hobart, Tasmania. But ALDIS's were ideal for experimenters, with their 2 mounting bars. (The projectors, that is.)
And so my search for the ultimate projector began!, I've had and still have many ALDIS's. They made a great "two and a quarter" machine and I had 5 Tutor 2's which were trouble free for years despite constant abuse.
So one is using Projectors (designed to project an image onto a 4ft. Screen) to attempt to project an image 20 to 30 ft. wide onto a less than ideal surface, and often fighting stage lighting as well! When you were working with bands they always wanted plenty of light on them!
One searched of course for Musos sympathetic to the cause but when one is working with top billing acts, they want plenty of light and it's important for the projections NOT to be drowned by stage light spill! As Discharge Lamps (apart from expensive heavy Xenons) were unavailable in the early 70's, I started searching for ways & means to
TCALSS (To Cut A Long Story Short) I acquired a vintage Cinema Carbon Arc Projector housing, (a 1919 Zeiss) A.C. mechanism, elliptical mirror and a Transarc for $40. I managed to get some 7mm A/C Carbons, and made a rough frame to support the housing and some big lenses, etc.
The housing & leads were covered in asbestos & all the terminals were bare and it actually took me a few weeks to overcome the techno? fear and turn it on! Then I had to make an exhaust for it to remove the nasty carbon dust! The Light output was SCARY! So, what to PROJECT! ?
Any glass or film or plastic etc that I put into it lasted about 2 secs then shattered or exploded or dissolved producing voluminous clouds of toxic smoke. After cooking some clock mechanisms I had a brainwave. I sussed out perforated metals seeking the smallest pattern I could find, which just happened to be tiny (POLKA) Dots!
So TCALSS, since the 70's I have gained quite a reputation for Polka-Dotting Buildings, Streets, Beaches, Fog, Weather Balloons, Landscapes etc.
I use Polka Dot Wheels, sometimes with a second wheel for interference patterns, sometimes thru PRISMS to colour, distort & scan the images, or thru Anamorphic lenses, Splitters, Dichroic filters etc.
BUT, the Carbon Arc was a hassle to run indoors and effect range was fairly limited!
In '87 I got me what was then the brightest slide projector on Earth, a PANI BP4HMI (4000w HMI) 180mm sq. format with 3 x lenses) I paid $3500.
With the advent of simpler and more affordable discharge lamps I managed to pick up various Second Hand bargains in 16mms, OHPs, Moving Lights etc in the 90's. All I need now is some PIGIs. (7Kw Xenon).
But these days?......I mostly use say.......for a normal? easy gig .....( for say a mod jazz group or possibly a blues group)........One (slightly modified) Tiger Scan (1200w HMI) & one (modified) 250 MSR Robocolor, for band lighting. 2 Carousels & dissolve for slides, one Syllabus with Revolving gate, & my exploding Fluids.
I was born at a very early age, a Born a Ministers Son, on the day the 2nd World War ended, I had a happy childhood in country Victoria, but toward the end of my first decade all Hell (slowly) broke loose!
"Sounds nice" thought I!...............................He neglected to mention that for the first few lifetimes I'd get a roller toaster tour of the parallel universes, returning just in time to witness my very being being reborn and rebored, melted and vaporized, inhaled and absorbed, reconstituted and pixelated, and poured back into my light body thru the funnel of love, each grain of sound representing an incarnation in the saxophonographical user interface of life and limbo some more as we sing some all enveloping jasmine centred nectar of the gods imbibing dichroic bubble juice till my wiffle wafted out the window to become one with the girl-next-door in a spontaneously combusting arabesquimo becoming and begoing on holidays with her house-trained Ornithorhynchus, Scooter, signing "Get well soon, Otto" and behold, "I saw things in a new light"
If that didn't do the trick, a few eons of Psilocybin might help.
I actually started doing Lightshows with a Dutch Cameraman/Animator by the name of Eddy van der Madden.
Coincidentally I met Mike Batchelor, a Lightshow man in Sydney who did the Lightshows at SYD. Arts Factory (when I was doing a night there) Now, Mike called himself UFO and strangely, Mike moved from Sydney to Melbourne while Eddy moved from Melbourne to Sydney!..........And they both made really stylized Projectors, but Eddy painted his in bright colours while Mike did his matt black!
Here is a pic of a KALEIDOSCOPE made by Eddy van der Madden, of Sydney Australia.
Eddy van der Madden Lights circa '75
Below is a photo from an "EDISON" Show at a "STONED AGAIN" Concert in Melbourne. Australia, early '70's. symmetrical Fluids Projection.
I started using Edison Light Company in '68 because no-one could remember "McSpedden" My intention was to think of a Unique name but I didn't imagine it would take 20 years! In the 70's I called my full-on presentations Giant Edison Screw. (G.E.S.or Giant Edison Screw usually refers to the connecting end of a theatrical Lamp)
So it was EDISON LIGHT COMPANY for the first 15 yrs or so, and GIANT EDISON SCREW for my full-on shows.
In 1991 I realized that I am a HUMAN in 3 senses of the word i.e. I am a HUMAN Being, I am a HUGH-Man, and I am a HUE-Man in that I work with Hues!
Since then I have used the name HUMANIA for most Projection and Lighting events as well as for Street Parade Events revolving around a Ford "Blitz" Army Truck, a crew of 10 or so, and Pyrotechnics, Dirigibles, & mayhem!
Otherwise Huphoria a.k.a. "u.4.e.r.F.X." (or Humania) regularly features at "Earth Core" - Australias biggest Rave Parties.
Groups, Musos, Others I worked with:
Most visiting Artists were "tied up" in a prearranged exclusive "Australian Tour" surrounded by a lot of hype and finger snapping happening promoter types, and so, (with very few exceptions) there was no chance whatever of a local Light-show becoming involved unless the Musos themselves actively sought such people.
John Mayall, Tangerine Dream, Buckwheat Zydeco, Spirit, AC/DC, Split Enz, Colin Hay (pre "Men at Work"), Renee Geyer, Jeff Croziers Rock & Roll Magic Show, Max Merritt & The Meteors, Billy Thorpe (& the Aztecs), Daddy Cool, Spectrum/Murtceps, McKenzie Theory,Sanctuary, Captain Matchbox, Banana Fish, Tamam Shud, Country Radio, Company Caine, Lipp Arthur / Lipp and the Double Decker Bros., Skyhooks, Sherbet, Caesars Palace, Waak Waak, Jungi, Al Jadida and 100 others.............
Other Artists I have worked with:
Most of them probably wouldn't be known Internationally anyway! Perhaps Krzstof Wodiczko would, as he's a world famous Polish Projection Artist. I worked with him in Sydney in '83, but I guess most people checking out a Lightshow Site won't have heard of him anyway!
I've worked at most of Australias Major Arts Festivals although most of that work was with a Hobart, Tasmania based Contemporary Opera Company called IHOS Opera.
My work with them has been far and away my most challenging and satisfying. They have a reputation for ground breaking works which more often than not, are performed in monstrous sheds on the wharves, which apart from being cavernous, are impervious to Fire and Water, the latter of which has at times literally lapped at the audiences feet. They have just asked me to work in Shanghai with them next November (Hooray, my 1st O/S job after waiting 34 years!!!) which will be a bit of a buzz!
Otherwise, not much work at the moment. Just (still) trying to sell stuff.
Hugh McSpedden - 2002