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© Amalie R. Rothschild, 1969
"The light shows were live performances in their own right. The people behind the scenes who manipulated film, overhead and slide projectors, color organs, strobe lights and a wealth of other equipment were just as much performers as the musicians on stage. At the Fillmore East, they employed a complex and amazing battery of equipment, most of it designed and specially built in house–and none of it ever seen by the audience. Every effect was produced by rear projection. The equipment was permanently set up backstage on a two-tiered platform attached to the rear brick wall of the theater and aimed at the back of a huge screen about 20 feet away. All the imagery was projected onto this screen, which formed the backdrop to the stage itself. The audience saw the images coming through it on the other side and they were a mix of improvisation and control.
This photograph is a composite of 43 different images taken over the years from when the group was known as the Joshua Light Show, and after Joshua left in 1970, when it was called Joe’s Lights. I found photographing the light show an enormous challenge. The curved screen spanned the whole stage, about 60 feet wide, and the swirling colors and images seemed to leap out and enfold the entire theater. Given the limitations and light sensitivity of the fastest color 35mm film of the time, High Speed Ektachrome 160 ASA, even pushed two stops there was no real way of capturing this all-embracing effect since there was a 2-stop difference in the intensity from the edges of the screen to the brighter center. The human eye compensates when seeing, but film cannot. In the photographs, the lightshow images ended up seeming concentrated at one central point of the screen, emerging like vignettes from darker, shadowy margins that frame the shots."
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