Jonathan Bernbaum was a visual wizard who wanted to blow minds. Creating complex video projections with remarkable technical prowess, he pulled from a vast library of materials he obsessively sourced and created over the years.
“I would give him a line out and he would build these complex ecosystems of light, animation, and image, and all in real time,” says Jay Fields, member of Katabatik, one of several local experimental music and sound collectives Bernbaum collaborated with. “No one will ever be able to fill his shoes.”
An internationally-recognized VJ, Bernbaum, 34, toured the globe with big-name electronic music acts such as Australian duo Knife Party and German-American DJ Markus Schulz, sometimes designing and running video projections at mega-festivals with hundreds of thousands of attendees and millions around the world watching via live stream.
But Bernbaum, who grew up in Berkeley, felt most at home in the tight-knit Bay Area underground electronic music scene. “We are a family,” says friend, DJ and sound artist Remy Beatty, of the S.P.A.Z. collective. “It was the community first, the acceptance there, and then the music that drew Jonathan in.”