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The 1960s Revisited: The Significance of the Trips Festival

January 22, 2016 @ 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


As Andrew Kirk notes in his most recent book, Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism, “The Trips Festival was not the first event of the era to unite commerce and technology with the cultural trends of the sixties, but it captured an important convergence of interests better than any previous single happening.” The technology symposium spotlights the influence of The Trips Festival and San Francisco’s mid-1960s counterculture movement on the emerging personal computer era. A keynote speech from author/historian Michael Kramer will set the stage for an intriguing panel of authors and historians, including Greg Castillo, David Bernstein, and Andrew Kirk. Film Director Eric Christensen will also make a special introduction prior to the screening of his famed documentary, The Trips Festival Movie.


1:00 PM: Keynote on the Importance of the Trips Festival by Michael Kramer
1:30 PM: Screening of Trips Festival Documentary with Director Eric Christensen
3:00 PM: Panel on Technology, Fashion, Music, and the Trips Festival with Greg Castillo, David Bernstein, and Andrew Kirk.


Andy Kirk, is Professor of History, Director of Public History Program, University of Nevada Las Vegas. Ph.D., University of New Mexico (1998). He is an environmental historian specializing in the history of environmentalism and environmental culture. As a public historian he works in cultural landscape and historic preservation, oral history and visual and material culture. Select publications: Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (2007). Collecting Nature: The American Environmental Movement and the Conservation Library (2001) American Horizons: The United States in Global Perspective, with Michael Schaller, et al. (Oxford, 2013) “Rereading the Nature of Atomic Doom Towns,” Environmental History 17:3 (July, 2012). “Alloyed: Countercultural Bricoleurs and the Design Science Revival,” in, David Kaiser and W. Patrick McCray, eds., Groovy Science: The Countercultural Embrace of Science and Technology over the Long 1970s (forthcoming, Chicago,2015). Fellowships, Appointments, Awards: Black Mountain Institute Fellowship, 2014-­‐2015, National Council on Public History (NCPH) Outstanding Public History Project Award, 2010, Co-­‐Editor, The Modern American West Series, University of Arizona Press. Current research: Oral, visual, and environmental history of global atomic landscapes. Fields: U.S. West, Environmental History, Public History, Modern U.S.

Michael J. Kramer is a historian, writer, teacher, dramaturg, editor, and author of The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture (Oxford University Press, 2013). His latest book-in-progress, This Machine Kills Fascists: Technology and Culture in the US Folk Music Revival, revises understandings of the folk revival as an anti-modernist movement, arguing instead that it offers a hidden history of people grappling with how to live more humanely in an increasingly technological society. With a related multimedia project, he focuses on the Berkeley Folk Music Festival, which ran on the University of California, Berkeley campus from 1958 – 1970. Kramer’s also at work on a set of essays about intellectuals and the counterculture. He has served as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the New York Times, and currently teaches various courses (history, American studies, digital humanities, and civic engagement) at Northwestern University.

Greg Castillo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at University of California, Berkeley, has investigated the Bay Area’s counterculture design legacy through a U.C. Berkeley Arts Research Center Fellowship (2014) and an Associate Professor Fellowship from the Townsend Center for the Humanities. His research informed a 2014 exhibition, Design Radicals: Creativity and Protest in Wurster Hall, reviewing “outlaw design” enterprises undertaken by faculty and students in the late-1960s and early-1970s at U.C. Berkeley. For the catalogue of the Walker Art Center exhibition on counterculture design,Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, Castillo contributed the essay “Counterculture Terroir: California’s Hippie Enterprise Zone” and delivered a public lecture at the exhibition’s opening symposium. Castillo will serve as Guest Curator for the expanded Hippie Modernismexhibition when it travels to the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive in February 2017.

David W. Bernstein is Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Mills College. His various publications include The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde; Writings through John Cage’s Music, Poetry, and Art(co-edited with Christopher Hatch), Cage (Re)Considered, a special double issue ofContemporary Music Review, and essays for Cage & Consequences, ed. Julia Schröder and Volker Straebel; The New York Schools of Music and the Visual Arts, ed., Steven Johnson; theCambridge History of Western Music Theory, ed., Thomas Christensen; Theoria, Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Center, Music Theory Spectrum, Contemporary Music Review, andCurrent Musicology. Bernstein is presently writing a book on Pauline Oliveros for the University of Illinois Press and Experiments in the Fault Zone, a history of experimental music at Mills College. He is also editor of Music Theory Spectrum, the flagship journal of the Society for Music Theory.

Director Eric Christensen’s independent documentary, The Trips Festival Movie, offers an in-depth look inside the famed Trips Festival. Due to the lack of footage taken at the actual festival, the film relies on fascinating photos, interviews with some of The Trips Festival’s organizers such as Stewart Brand, Ken Kesey and Bill Graham, and a wild and bizarre short of the festival shot by experimental filmmaker Ben Van Meter. The Trips Festival is said to have birthed the entire hippie scene and the revolution of the late 1960s. Influences of The Trips Festival can be seen in present day festivals such as Bonnaroo and Burning Man. Actor Peter Coyote narrates the film.


January 22, 2016
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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