HIGH-TECH'S MISSING LINK

IS JAMES J. DILETTOSO A TECHNO GOD OR JUST ANOTHER FLOPPY DISCIPLE? EVEN HE CAN'T SAY FOR SURE.

Inside, computer graphics flash across a video screen--wild colors, animation, a m‚lange of images that Dilettoso and his programmers designed or that other artists created using Dilettoso's software.

Dilettoso is tooling at a keyboard of another sort, a synthesizer he's set up in the back studio of his building. Over and over he toys with a descending series of chords with an organlike tone, at once New Age and slightly sinister, as if he were the phantom of the laboratory. He and his girlfriend, Susan Gordon, and a third musician have formed a New Agey band they call UFaux, and they've just come off a gig in San Diego.

He's thinking about an upcoming Billy Idol tour he's supposed to work on. Mostly, he's wasting time because he recently moved into the building from a studio down the street, and the telephone's not hooked up yet. Meanwhile, three big deals are threatening to erase themselves from the hard drive of his schedule. He's fiddling while circuit boards burn.

A producer from the TV show Unsolved Mysteries is trying to reach him for a long-in-the-works segment about the Swiss UFO case. Another producer is trying to telephone him about an interactive audio project involving Fleetwood Mac, and so are the Maryland investors lining up the cash to set up a computer graphics service bureau. The bureau essentially will make it possible for people with ordinary personal computers to send still and moving images to each other over telephone lines--rapidly--through Dilettoso's supercomputer, "To get from my medium to your medium, or from my head to your medium," as he puts it.

Maybe this is the project that will make a rich man out of Dilettoso. The Maryland investors think it will; they see it developing into a system to provide video on demand--movies sent to your TV and your TV only over the telephone lines. Dilettoso's not sure. "Why should I make it easier for a couch potato to watch TV without driving down to the video store?" he asks. He's walked away from projects before, most recently a video telephone that is allegedly better than AT&T's. He doesn't talk about it, but the investors have seen it and were blown away.

His technovision goes into fast forward, imagining a day in the near future when a news reporter at a remote location could record an event with a hand-held video camera, digitize it with a lap-top computer, modem it through a cellular phone and beam it to a satellite with a hand-held antenna to be picked up by his network. He has been negotiating with the inventor of just such an antenna, he notes.

He envisions the day when all music will be recorded directly into a computer, and rather than imprinting it on tape or CD, it will be sent directly from the computer to the radio station or to a speaker in your home.

He's got other plans, too, nothing sinister, but he won't say what because we wouldn't understand.

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