David Byrne lectures at Berkeley about… Power Point!

From the UC Berkeley News:

Byrned_3304“Hello. My name is David Byrne, and I’m going to do an introduction to PowerPoint.”

The roar of applause and cheers that greeted this deadpan statement was undoubtedly the most enthusiasm ever exhibited before a lecture held in UC Berkeley’s Dwinelle Hall. Byrne, best known as the front man for the Talking Heads, proceeded to do exactly what he said he would. But while he poked fun at the popular Microsoft presentation software’s bullet-point tyranny and Autocontent Wizard inanity, Byrne also defended its appeal as more than just a business tool — as a medium for art and theater. His talk was titled “I ♥ PowerPoint,” and he confessed that he loves the program not in spite of, but in some ways because of, its shortcomings.

“I love not having an unlimited palette. In that sense it’s like a pencil. You don’t expect to have other typefaces or fonts; you have fun with what’s there,” Byrne said. “Freedom — who needs it?”

“PowerPoint is the Rodney Dangerfield of software: it gets no respect,” summarized Ken Goldberg, the Berkeley engineering professor and artist who invited Byrne to speak as part of the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium series he started in 1997. “It’s easy to ridicule it for its corporate nature, but the real story is about how participatory and democratic it is. High school kids use it, rabbis use it, people even use it for wedding toasts.”

Byrne_arrowsByrne discovered the software a few years ago and, excited by how easy it was to integrate visuals and music, began to create art pieces with it. He collected them into a book, “Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information,” which came with a DVD of about 20 minutes of his “PowerPointillism,” as Goldberg calls it. Those slides — among them images of Dolly the cloned sheep, simple drawings, and arrows jostling each other like a confused school of fish (below right) — cycled across the screen before the lecture began.

More here.  Byrne also writes an award-winning journal on the web (don’t call it a blog!) which you can look at on his website here.

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