Deru time travels back to ‘1979’ at NightLife 

click to enlarge Deru
  • courtesy photo
  • Deru’s ambitious new multimedia project is called “1979.”
Los Angeles-based ambient electronic artist Deru, who transports visitors to the past, prompting them to remember, is bringing his act to the dreamy depths of the California Academy of Science’s coral reef exhibit.

Deru (born Benjamin Wynn) debuts his new multimedia project “1979” at the Academy’s “NightLife” weekly party Thursday night. Themed “Brain Power,” today’s event includes lectures on the neuroscience of music and exhibits that allow visitors to control music with their mind, as well as Deru’s wistful, hypnotic and audio-visual show.

“The fact that it’s about memory the whole night — it’s insane how well it all worked out. This is the first show that we’re doing in the Bay Area, so it’s sort of perfect,” says Wynn, the son of a neurosurgeon, a California Institute of the Arts graduate with a degree in music technology and a Peabody Award-sharing sound designer for TV and film.

Deru’s last album came out on Mush Records in 2010.

For this follow-up, Wynn and visual effects artist EFFIXX spent two years creating material for a self-funded art project — arguably the first ambient, experimental, electronic and handheld video projector-based installation/album/website.

“I wanted to make an album release a piece of art,” Wynn says. “[The project] was partially to bring more attention to the music and to expand the experience into all these other arenas.”

The “1979” audio excerpt Deru hosts on SoundCloud is a dreamy, piano instrumental with nostalgic pops and hisses.

Wynn presold 50 handheld video projectors (“pico” projectors) for the project. Each $500 projector comes in a custom wooden housing preloaded with custom firmware and the “1979 audiovideo document.” Artists such as Amon Tobin, Nigel Godrich and Shigeto pop up in “1979’s” online, user-generated collage.

“I was rolling the dice a little bit. There were times I wasn’t sure if people were going to get it,” he says, wondering if he was “falling down some art hole, asking people to upload a memory for a song. But they thought it was a great sentiment, and the things people wrote on their memories totally floored me. They had it all at their fingertips.”

A string of one-off “1979” installations at bigger, artier festivals and institutional shows is slated to follow.

“It’s definitely the largest undertaking I’ve ever done for my music and probably the most creatively satisfying project I’ve done this far,” Winn says.



Where: California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $12

Contact: (415) 379-8000,



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