DIGITAL BE-IN

History

 

 

Be-In Home

Follow the links below to experience the Digital Be-Ins of the past:

Crowd at Human Be-In
Leary at the Human Be-In

Human Be-In: The Digital Be-In was inspired by the Human Be-In and has, over the years, involved the original Human Be-In organizers. "A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In," was announced on the cover of the new issue of the San Francisco Oracle, and would feature Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Richard (Ram Dass) Alpert, Dick Gregory, Lenore Kandel, Jerry Ruben, and All SF Rock Bands January 14, 1967, 1 to 5 pm in Golden Gate Park. 30,000 people showed up. The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and others called the tune. Leary, in his first San Francisco appearance, uttered the sound bite of the decade: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out." Oracle publisher and Be-In co-organizer Allen Cohen characterized the event as a necessary meeting-of-the-minds, bringing together the philosphically opposed factions of the late 1966 San Francisco-based counter culture: on one side, the Berkeley radicals, who were tending toward increased militancy in response to the U.S. government's Vietnam war policies, and, on the other side, the Haight-Ashbury hippies, who, with the help of psychotropic compounds and various spiritual guides, saw the cosmic karma in it all, and urged peaceful protest and ongoing joyful celebration. The Be-In focused the key ideas of the 1960s counter-culture: personal power, decentralization, ecological awareness, consciousness expansion. More encompassing than a war protest movement, the counter culture "questioned authority" in regard to civil rights, women's rights, and consumer rights, shaped its own alternative media - the "underground" newspapers and radio stations, and spawned new directions in music, art, and technology. In the 1970s, the dynamic San Francisco area milieu, blending Silicon Valley with Haight Ashbury and Berkeley, gave birth to the personal computer - the ultimate gesture of personal power, "counter" to the then-prevailing main frame computer paradigm that implied centralized authority.

Digital Art Be-In 1: The first Digital Art Be-In was held on January 21, 1989 at American Zephyr Studios in downtown San Francisco. The event, sponsored by prominent software and hardware vendors, brought together artists, hackers, and industry movers and shakers in a celebration of the new electronic art and design world. A variety of impromptu exhibits and performances marked the evening.

Daniela Haskara performing artDigital Art Be-In 2: On April 12, 1990, the Second Annual Be-in was held at the same venue, with twice the number of attendees and even more impressive multimedia and music/graphics performances.

Digital Art Be-In 3: In 1991, the event was held at the San Francisco Fine Art Center on Saturday, January 12. With about 1800 attendees, the Third Be-In featured the innovative music of D'Cuckoo with the first computer-assisted visual accompaniment (developed at later Be-Ins as more advanced "blendo" projections), other performances, and a broader array of exhibits and art installations.

Digital Art Be-In 4: In 1992, the 4th Annual Digital Art Be-In converged -- on the precise day of January 14 -- with the 25th Anniversary of the original Human Be-In (the seminal 1960s event that brought the Haight Ashbury hippies and the Berkeley radicals together in a spontaneous happening of 30,000 people in Golden Gate Park where the Dead played, Allen Ginsberg read and Timothy Leary first said "Tune In, Turn On and Drop Out"). The "New Human Be-In," open to the public with, for the first time, tickets on sale drew almost 3000 people turning on to multimedia and virtual reality, tuning in to Worlds Collide, Todd Rundgren, Brenda Laurel, Howard Rheingold, Tim Leary, Graham Nash, John Barlow and The Step Children, and dropping out of centralized, linear, analog media!

Click here to read highlights from the 4th Digital Art Be-In: transcripts of speeches by Timothy Leary and John Perry Barlow.

Digital Art Be-In 5: The Fifth Annual event was held January 8, 1993 at the ultra-modern San Francisco Fashion Center Grand Atrium. It featured the debut performance of Vortex, a Grateful Dead spin-off band with Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick and on-stage sound designer Bob Bralove, and guitar virtuoso Henry Kaiser. The event, co-produced with Bill Graham Presents, brought the focus back to the multimedia revolution of the `90s with performances by Worlds Collide, Brenda Laurel, Timothy Leary and Psychic TV, and the top-selling progressive rap group Force One Network. The Digital Frontier was Multimedia jam session at Digital Be-In 6more extensive than ever before with cutting edge multimedia and virtual reality applications on display, including many hands-on experiences. Sponsors included HSC Software, Fractal Design, Apple, Adobe, any others.

Digital Art Be-In 6: The Sixth Be-In, again held at the San Francisco Fashion Center, had roughly 3500 attendees. The Main Stage show began with classic performances by Amy X Neuburg and Trance Mission, Global Vortex (now known as Second Sight) offered an encore performance. Digital artist Roz Dimon from New York and Jon Anderson (singer and co-founder of Yes) and Thomas Dolby from London attempted to join the party via sponsor AT&T's color Picasso videophone, but sound system snafus botched the low-bandwidth link. Tim Leary, hospitalized with pneumonia, missed physical attendance. The evening's main high point was the first Millennium Ceremony, produced by Dan Mapes featuring a remarkable performance by the Earth Circus Dance troupe, and, led by worldbeat drummer Muruga and a stable of stage dancers, an ecstatic, 20-minute Be-In Peace Jam. The evening's performances ended with The Hang Dynasty - Scott Page (Pink Floyd/Supertramp saxphonist) Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Doobie Brothers guitarist) and other top talents jamming with Jimmy Dright's United State. Lead sponsor AT&T was joined by 7th Level, Fractal Design, Silicon Graphics, Comptons New Media, ION and others.

Magenta CroweDigital Art Be-In 7: The Seventh Be-In was held at Maritime Hall in San Francisco's south-of-Market area. Performances included Cyber-Tribe with Eddy Gale, Marimba Pacifica and Todd Rundgren, offering a spoken word performance as part of the debut of the new Residents CD-ROM. Other CD-ROMs were also presented for the first time, including the Haight Ashbury in the '60s, and Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. The primary visual performances were supplied by legendary light show artist Glenn McKay, using decidedly analog equipment. Timothy Leary hosted the multimedia presentations and spoke to the crowd about the connections between the '60s and '90s Be-Ins. Producer Tony Bove showcased the Haight Ashbury CD-ROM, which grew out of a presentation Bove produced with Human Be-In organizer Allen Cohen for the 4th Digital Be-In. Marc Canter demoed the new Media Band CD-ROM, the first true interactive music/video CD-ROM. Dan Mapes led the Milennium Ceremony, featuring a meditative dance by Magenta Rose and visuals featuring the work of visionary urban architect Paolo Soleri. The Presenting sponsor was Microsoft, along with Compton's New Media, General Magic and On-Line Design. Artists Bert Monroy, Diane Fenster, Frank Tycer, John Odam, Barbara Nessim and Janet Ashford each contributed a piece on the concept of "7" for the "7 by 7" entry exhibit and giveaway poster.

Muscial performances at the Tokyo Digital Be-InTokyo Be-In: The first Digital Be-In held outside of San Francisco was held outside of the Western Hemisphere: in the Land of the Rising Sun. Co-organized by Verbum and IDG Expo (organizers of MacWorld Expo), with co-producer Miki Murdoch, the event was held at Makuhari Messe Conference center in Chiba. MacWorld Expo had 150,000 attendees (50,000 or more of which do not own computers!), and the Be-In attracted about 2000. The event, sponsored by Apple Computer and others, began with a presentation by Michael Gosney on the history of the Be-In and the connections between the 1960s Bay Area-based counterculture and the personal computer revolution. Gosney presented a videotaped message from Timothy Leary, in which he complimented the Japanese people on their spiritual depth and modern leadership, and suggested that Japan is going to "Turn On, Intertune In, and Shine Out!" Performances included Cheep Purple and A.K.A. Dig (Los Angeles boys living in Tokyo). The show MC was Robert Harris, a popular radio and television personality in Tokyo and one of the leading experts on Beat culture and poetry. The Digital Art Gallery was organized by Tadao Shibata, editor of SuperDesigning magazine. The Digital Frontier featured exhibits by avant garde multimedia publisher Digitalogue, HSC Software, Oracion and many others. One of the most popular features of the event was an auction for the Kobe earthquake victims: vendors donated millions of yen worth of software and many Be-In attendees spent the better part of the evening in the auction area. San Francisco's Residents made a surprise appearance late in the evening. The publicity on the event was quite widespread, including national television news stories.

Matt Venuti and the Venusians at Be-In 8Digital Be-In 8: On January 11, 1996, Verbum staged one of the first global netcasts on the internet: the Eighth Annual Digital Be-In. Interviews with visionaries Jerry Brown, R.U. Sirius, John Barlow and Denise Caruso were beamed to a global audience. Be-In attendees were interviewed, cyber-reporters posted pictures and text to our Realtime Be-In. A highlight of the event was the launch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Blue Ribbon Campaign for freedom of speech on the internet. Show highlights include musical performances by The Venusians, Haunted by Waters, tantric dancer Daniella Haskara, and the usual expected surprise appearances; readings by leading San Francisco poets Allen Cohen (with musical accompaniment by George Michalski), Neeli Cherkovski, Jack Foley, Genny Lin, Julia Vinograd and Bart Alberti; appearances by Timothy Leary, John Barlow, Paolo Soleri, R.U. Sirius, EFF Counsel Mike Godwin and many others. Wavy Gravy being interviewed live on the netThe musical performances were enhanced with the Be-In's popular "blendo" visual accompaniment by several leading digital artists, including Denise Gallant and Peter Towbin. In addition to the performances, the Be-In again featured the popular Digital Frontier, where pioneering digital media applications are showcased, with an emphasis on aesthetics and thoughtful content. This year, the Frontier incorporated a special edition of Gulture Enterprises' monthly "Open Screens" forum of film, video, computer and animation works. Other highlights included "VR the World," a collection of cutting edge virtual reality exhibits organized by CyberEdge Journal; "The Art-ROM Room" selection of limited edition fine art multimedia works on CD-ROM collected by Beverly Reiser and Lucia Grossberger; an interactive exhibit by IGC Networks, who manages Womens Net, PeaceNet, EcoNet, ConflictNet and LaborNet; and a Digital Art Exhibit of 2D works by Bert Monroy, a "futurespective" of editorial art from MONDO 2000 magazine, and the winners of the Micro Publishing News digital illustration competition sponsored by Digital Pond of San Francisco. The event benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently relocated to San Francisco from Washington, D.C. The EFF, founded by John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore, is the leading public advocacy group for citizen rights in the emerging media.

Danzo Teokali at Be-In 9Digital Be-In 9: A Celebration of Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace and the 30th Anniversary of the Human Be-In! Our live video netcast was tremendous, as was the on-the-spot documentation by our team of writers and photographers. This year we introduced the tradition of an all-night techno/trance dance party at SOMARTs Gallery beginning at midnight with a blessing by Matthew Fox. The evening's musical performances included post-modern world music ensemble Beyond Race, African cultural rap act HOOP-la, Brazilian drummers and dancers Loco Bloco, and electronic dance bands, Riots/Scramble and an all star line-up of San Francisco's spirited underground DJs, for the after-midnight "Seminar." Dancers include the traditional Aztec dance troupe Danza Teokalli, Panjaya Collective's "Angels in Cyberspace" performance piece, the Burning Man fire dancers and A Waking Dream theater collective. An unprecedented "Voce" chant ceremony will bring participants from around the world together in a stunning cyberspace ritual led by Phil Harrington. Performances were enhanced with the Be-In's popular "blendo" visuals by Dimension7 and other digital artists. The Visionary Soapbox area featured statements and "rants" by Sixties patriarch Chet Helms, ex-Governor George Clinton at Be-In 10and presidential candidate Jerry Brown, United Farm Worker co-founder Dolores Huerta, Burning Man organizer Larry Harvey, VRML co-inventor Mark Pesce, cosmic theologian Matthew Fox and others. San Francisco's charismatic Mayor Willie Brown joined internet pioneer Malcolm CasSelle, co-founder of the Afro-centric culture website, NetNoir, in a salute to cultural diversity in both cityspace and cyberspace. Click here to see some video on Be-In 9.

Digital Be-In 10: The theme of this 10th year anniversary event was Human Rights in Cyberspace, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It was held at 1015 Folsom, with musical and performance artists that included African music legend Hamza El Din, Grateful Dead alumnus Bob Bralove, dijeridoo shaman Stephen Kent, live electronica acts E.T.I. and Ceiba, and a multimedia performance piece by EZTV. Starting at 10:30, the event switched into even higher gear, featuring a collection of the best DJs from San Francisco's underground scene: Garth of Come-Unity, Douglas and Neal of CCC, Tracy of Mixology, Sunset's Galen, Grey-V of D7, Rob of Koinonea, Jeno of Nikita and many others. This year's sponsors were Yahoo!, MicroPublishing News, Alexa Internet, the S.F. Bay Guardian and other visionary concerns.

Jerry Brown makes a point at Be-In 9Digital Be-In 11: Following a tradition of socially conscious themes, the 11th Be-In's theme of Body, Mind & Cyberspace encouraged attendees (both physical and virtual) to take a hard look at what works and doesn't work in the digital realm, with an eye towards building a more human civilization in the 21st Century. The event featured a variety of speakers and live musical performances, as well as rave-style trance, ambient and drum & bass rooms with thematic decorations. On the main stage, Bay Area favorites the Venusians returned to the Be-In with their cosmic electro-pop sound. Other acts included cyber-vixen Joie Favre, Craig Russo of Seedpod Records, Arc Angel Gabe Real of Future Breaks FM and Galactic Dreamspell. The "Trance Cube" featured DJ Purple from Dragonfly Records-UK and leading DJs from the San Francisco psychedelic trance underground. The Ambient Salon area featured DJs specializing in this mellower form of techno offering a relaxing yet stimulating atmosphere for quiet discussions.

Media Revolution Panel at Be-In 12 with Danny SheehanDigital Be-In 12: Coming back from a 2-year hiatus, the 12th Digital Be-In had the theme Media Revolution. It brought together a panel of luminaries in the alternative and mainstream media to discuss "alternative" media, and the difficulties they face in getting non-commercial media into the mainstream. Human Be-In organizer/San Francisco Oracle publisher and poet Allen Cohen performed spoken word, as well as a Ken Kesey tribute along with Gerald Nicosia and Roseanna Lourdeaux. Studio Z.tv was energized with the live music of Medicine Drum, L.I.F.E., and Kode IV, with an EarthTroupe ritual interactive dance performance providing a theatric dance segue between acts. Meanwhile, in the Exhibition Room, an Avatar Theater played on one screen, combining live action with virtual characters using Adobe Atmospheres virtual world software. The other presented the Video Screening Theater by Video Activism Network, to a soundtrack of beats from DJ Dov, Ms.E and chiKa. After midnight the Peace Dance ensued with DJ Khaled elSayed's world music groove.

Highlights

From the Digital Be-In Media Archives:

Video Collage from Be-In 9

Press Release for Be-In 10

Exhibitors at Be-In 11

Photo Galleries of Be-In 12

Netcast Reporting during Be-In 12