Alan Rath, pioneering tech artist, dead at 60

Alan Rath, the Bay Area artist who pioneered tech-based, electronic sculpture and inspired the entire category of electronic and robotic art, died last Tuesday. He was 60.

The cause was complications from a rare form of multiple sclerosis, said Dianne Dec, who curated several exhibitions of his work at Hosfelt Gallery and served as his gallerist in San Francisco.

Rath's kinetic sculptures often featured video animations of giant human eyes that roamed across flat electronic screens, blinking and darting and staring back at their viewers. 

With a degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rath cited a wide range of inspiration, including Alexander Calder, David Smith, Jimi Hendrix, NASA and Robert Moog, who designed analog synthesizers.

"I realized I had zero musical talent, and I absolutely love music, and the ideas in music really inform so much of what I do," Rath said in an interview with The Chronicle in 2013. "But I can't make music, so I make these other things."

Rath's alien-looking pieces are designed to move with lifelike fluidity, composed of materials like fiberglass, polypropylene, aluminum, custom electronics and partridge feathers. Their movement is caused by motion sensors and body heat.

Read more on Datebook.

Image: Hosfelt Gallery