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Author Of The Month: Christopher Scoates

Published: October 17, 2011

Bulletproof … I Wish I Was: The Lighting and Stage Design of Andi Watson

Christopher Scoates, Director, University Art Museum

Published by San Francisco-based Chronicle Books, the 288-page text presents a decade’s worth of lighting designer Andi Watson, known primarily as the lighting designer for the band Radiohead, an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The monograph is accompanied by hundreds of stage photographs and a foreword by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Critical essays by Dick Hebdige and Fiona Ragheb elucidate the history of stage lighting.

In his opening essay, “The Future of Light,” Scoates unpacks the intricacies behind Watson’s effects with a series of interviews, diagrams, photographs and behind-the-scenes details that bring life to the designs. Scoates first met Watson at the Radiohead “In Rainbows” stop at the Hollywood Bowl well into the second phase of the lighting director’s career. In backtracking, the author relates Watson’s colorful history (he worked for bands like INXS, Prince and the Cure before signing on with the nascent Oxford band Radiohead) as well as dedicating a chapter to the history of concert lighting, from the early work of Lazlo Mohony-Nagy in the 1930s to the liquid light movements of the underground 60s to the major stadium undertakings of Pink Floyd (The Wall), the Rolling Stones (Steel Wheels tour) and U2 (Pop Mart, Zoo TV and 360 Tour).

In his analysis of Watson’s work — including Oasis, Dido, the Arctic Monkeys and others — Scoates breaks down concepts, implementation and the influences (Jean Cocteau, cubism, “the Matrix”) on work that employs laser light, mirrors, LED tubes, oscilloscopes and videos. Scoates, who was named director of the University Art Museum (UAM) in 2005, explained that the book forms part of a larger story for the UAM that began in 2007 with a campus installation titled “Sound Oasis,” a three-dimensional audio environment on and which continued in 2009 with a large 12-monitor light and sound installation by British musician, producer and visual artist Brian Eno titled “77 Million Paintings.”

Author of the Month: Karen Clippinger

Formerly chief curator for the University Art Museum at UC Santa Barbara, Scoates came to CSULB with 20 years’ curatorial experience. His writings have appeared in New Art Examiner, Sculpture, and Art Papers and he has published numerous exhibition catalogues including Nosegays and Knuckle Sandwiches: Work by Thomas Woodruff; Green Acres: Neo Colonialism in the US; On Translation: the Games; and Mining Culture in Technicolor. Scoates holds an M.F.A. in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a B.F.A. in graphic design from the University of Florida.