“You kind of get obsessed when you get into it,” says liquid-light artist Josh Bohannon. “Anything you can think of can be applied. There aren’t books about it or anything, so you have to figure out everything for yourself. It’s a lot of experimentation, a lot of fun.”
Bohannon and Tres Burros band mate Ake Arndt recently projected live visuals under the moniker Operation Mindblow for their second annual Winter’s Womb show at the Til-Two Club in City Heights (last year’s was at Dream Street in O.B.), which hosted eight local psychedelic bands and a poster-art show.
“I was working on an ad campaign for Zero about two years ago,” says Arndt, the art department manager at Black Box Distribution, a skateboard and footwear company. “I think Jamie [Thomas] was inspired by some ’60s Led Zeppelin footage, so we were messing with overlays and projections, and I stumbled into that era when they were doing light shows and crazy organic stuff.”
Liquid light shows were pioneered around 1966 in the U.S. by artists including Glen McKay (who projected for Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead) and the Brotherhood of Light (the Doors, Traffic, the Who). Around the same time, U.K. artists Mike Leonard (Pink Floyd) and Mark Boyle (Soft Machine, Jimi Hendrix) devised their own methods of projection at London’s underground UFO Club.
Operation Mindblow is reviving and expanding on these artists’ techniques, employing dyes, oil, water, layered picture frames, and custom contraptions made from fans and aquarium pumps. Following in the footsteps of Boyle, who integrated amoebas, paramecium, larvae, sperm, and wasps in his art, Operation Mindblow often incorporates brine shrimp (or Sea-Monkeys) in their projections.
“They project about eight inches across,” says Bohannon. “That looks pretty amazing.”
The duo has thrown a handful of desert and mountain parties and recently did visuals for Best Coast at the Casbah. They project regularly for friends the Loons, Earthless, Red Octopus, and the Kabbs and plan to put on a Summer Meltdown show at Til-Two around July.
“Our goal is to make super-rad visuals without using any video or digital stuff,” says Arndt. “Just to keep it fun and interesting and do weird shit.”
What kind of weird shit, you ask?
“I’d like to get some ants,” Bohannon says.
February 12 at Soda Bar: the Loons, Joy, and the Fairmounts.