We mourn the passing of Rudi Stern, who died this August at the age of 69. I wager to say we will not see his like again. Rudi was a very special kind of genius, free ranging, and open with the continual belief and optimism that one associates with the very young. He believed in art; he believed in beauty; he believed in that ineffable thing called “touched by the spirit” — so rare. Rudi created light shows in the 60s with Timothy Leary; founded Global Village, the experimental video center in 1969; and is credited with reviving the use of neon after opening his gallery, Let There Be Neon, in the 70s. He wrote books, made documentaries, including Haiti: Killing the Dream, and in 2001, created a downtown sensation with Theatre of Light, a multimedia installation utilizing more than 30 projectors and thousands-that's right thousands-of intricately hand painted slides.
Paul Vershbow remembers, “I first met Rudi Stern seven or eight years ago; I was manning the keyboard of a (then state-of-the-art) double-scroller PIGI when a gaunt, cadaverous figure approached me with questions about what exactly I was doing, how was I doing it, and just who was I, anyway. After introductions and explanations, I realized that I had come across someone entirely different: a veteran with far more experience and depth than I could ever hope to attain.”
Over the next years, Rudi often worked with Paul and tried to find ways of bringing his particular penchant for the intricate, iconoclastic, and handmade to a public glutted by the disposable, digital, and banal. His enthusiasm and incredible energy were on view as he participated in the [now Live Design] Projection Master Classes last year, and I am personally honored to have been able to introduce him to the latest generation of artists. We who work in the fleeting, the ineffable, the ephemeral realm of projection need heroes like Rudi to point way towards what really matters: The Light.