Ham, an Abstract Expressionist, was the manager of the building where Elias Romero lived. Romero collaborated on a theater piece with Ham, eventually loaning him his projector. Ham began experimenting with what he called "electric action painting" in his basement studio. In 1964, Ham collaborated with Spencer and Romero on The Run, Lee Breuer's experimental theater piece at the Tape Center. That same year, he constructed a four-by-six-foot light mural designed to operate continuously. This piece was installed at Virginia City, Nevada's Red Dog Saloon, and Ham claims that this provided the backdrop for "the first S.F. psychedelic light and rock 'n roll show"--a dubious claim, considering the show was not even in San Francisco. Ham considers himself the harbinger of the "Age of Light Painting," though those words recall Moholy's several decades prior.
Ham went on to help establish the countercultural prominence of the light show through his multiprojector work at the Avalon Ballroom that same year, adding films and slides to the light show's liquid template. His immersive projections would cover two or three walls at a time. He also collaborated with local avant-garde jazz musicians Fred Marshall and Jerry Granelli to form Light Sound Dimension (note the lysergic initials) in 1967, an improvisatory, though rigorously rehearsed, combination of abstract light, jazz, and electronic tape music. The group debuted at the SFMOMA, and a year later they opened their own cooperative theater where they performed weekly and conducted workshops for students and lighting professionals.
Electric light painting